Loma Prieta 30th Anniversary

CA-Modern story ponders what steps to take before the Bay's next big earthquake
Fridays on the Homefront
Eichler owner Adriene Biondo developed a keen interest in earthquakes following last July's 7.1 Ridgecrest quake and its aftershocks, which Biondo felt standing in her
Granada Hills Eichler living room 130 miles away. Following that experience, she began
to ask pertinent questions of experts and assembled an array of resources for her new
CA-Modern story, 'Quake-Up Call.' Above: An Eichler's floor-to-ceiling wall of glass, a priority concern, as our story points out. Photo: Sabrina Huang
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
New Fall '19 CA-Modern.
Fridays on the Homefront
Earthquake-ready metal post-and-beam bracing connections in an Eichler. Photo: David Toerge

"There is no such thing as earthquake weather," assures the U.S. Geological Survey, conceding all the same that such folklore has been around since the time of Aristotle.

Bay Area residents might be excused, however, if based on history they are convinced that such conditions exist locally in October.

After all, the region had sizeable October shakers in the past—in 2007 in San Jose, 1989 in the Loma Prieta earthquake, 1969 in Santa Rosa, and other places in other years dating at least back to a huge one in Hayward in 1868. Historically, no other month has been as shaky by the Bay.

All the more reason to check out 'Quake-up Call,' a feature about preparedness for modern homes penned by Adriene Biondo in the Fall '19 issue of CA-Modern magazine. Its publication also coincides with the 30th anniversary of Loma Prieta—October 17, 1989.

Biondo, a Granada Hills Eichler owner, preservationist, and restoration consultant, developed a keen interest in tremblors in the aftermath of last July's 7.1 Ridgecrest quake and its aftershocks, which she felt standing in her Eichler 130 miles away.

Following that experience, she began to ask pertinent questions of experts and assembled an array of resources to get homeowners prepared for what October—or any month, actually—might bring.

"It's a challenge with Eichlers," Joshua Carter tells Biondo as an engineer who has worked on several for South Bay-based Sezen & Moon Structural Engineering. "You want to keep that look, but what you need to do is antithetical to their construction. You can start with a thorough investigation of the structure to properly assess it."

"Although there is no sure way to completely earthquake-proof mid-century homes, structural retrofitting can provide substantial resistance to shock waves by strengthening roof-to-wall connections," added Kaveh Rad, head of Oakland-based Radco Engineering.

"Since mid-century homes were not built with current building and safety codes," writes Biondo, "most seismic professionals today advise Eichler owners to consider reinforcing five areas of the home: floor-to-ceiling windows, the post-and-beam system, masonry fireplaces/chimneys, roof, and water heater."

The CA-Modern story offers several suggestions on this point, but acknowledges that a more thorough discussion of the reinforcement issues is available in the Eichler Network's comprehensive story from a few years ago, 'Shake, Rattle…and Retrofit.'

Both stories describe the need to reinforce the original single-pane glass walls by replacing them with tempered, double-paned glass, or by covering the originals with security film.

"During earthquakes, original single-pane windows have been known to implode, shooting shards of glass across open spaces inside homes," warns Biondo.