The Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, Calif., voted unanimously last April to require seismic retrofit of pre-1978 buildings with "soft stories" (lower-floor structures that are insufficiently braced against lateral forces, and would likely collapse in a powerful earthquake). "Now, Los Angeles officials are considering a similar undertaking, but on a much larger scale," reports the Los Angeles Times ("San Francisco offers lessons to L.A. on quake retrofitting," by Rong-Gong Lin II, Rosanna Xia and Doug Smith). "San Francisco identified about 3,000 wood-frame apartment buildings that need retrofitting; Los Angeles has many more."

"San Francisco offers lessons to Los Angeles about the politics of earthquake retrofitting," the Times reports. "As in Los Angeles, advocates of new quake safety rules faced heavy opposition from property owners and tenants groups. But they were able to make the case that inaction would be more costly in the long run."

Making that case was no cake-walk, however. Reports the Times: "The city began to focus on soft-story buildings after many of them collapsed in the Marina district during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The regulations were finally passed 24 years later."