Study the Issue to Show Interest in the Issue

The alternative and more costly measure would be to take action.

by Eric Holdeman / March 6, 2019

Here in Washington state, the insurance commissioner has proposed to study what needs to be done to make the state more disaster resilient. See Kreidler’s request to plan for statewide disaster resilience passes Senate, which seems like a wonderful idea on the surface, but then ... we have already studied the resilience issues in Washington state. 

Check out these two items:

One is Resilient Washington, which was a study dating back to 2012. Little to nothing was done to implement the recommendations in that study. The Seattle Times did a series of investigative pieces about the lack of attention to seismic issues, see my op-ed in Crosscut, Washington dawdles as megaquake looms that had links to all of the Seattle Times articles. 

This prompted Gov. Inslee (now running for resident) to form a Resilient Washington Subcabinet in 2017 which produced these recommendations.

So to date, we have had plenty of studies and recommendations, but little action. If the process is important, then I guess we are more resilient, just because we are thinking about doing something — just not doing it. 

If you want to know what "action" looks like, see these actions/legislation from the state of Oregon:

Here is the Oregon legislation that is actually accomplishing something concrete:

Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 455.400, mandates emergency response facilities (regardless of the age of construction) to meet earthquake life safety standards before Jan. 1, 2022. If a facility has major seismic deficiencies, seismic rehab must be completed.

Public school buildings must meet life safety standards before Jan. 1, 2032.

Here's the link and text:

https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/455.400

Note: Section 3, chapter 797, Oregon Laws 2001, provides:

Sec. 3. Subject to available funding, if a building evaluated under section 2 (4), chapter 797, Oregon Laws 2001, is found by a board to pose an undue risk to life safety during a seismic event, the governing board of a public university listed in ORS 352.002 (Public universities), local school district board, community college board or education service district board, as appropriate, shall develop a plan for seismic rehabilitation of the building or for other actions to reduce the risk. For a board that is subject to ORS 291.224 (Inclusion of capital construction program in budget report), the board’s plan to rehabilitate or take other action to reduce the seismic risk of a building must be included in the capital construction program of the board. A board that is subject to ORS 291.224 (Inclusion of capital construction program in budget report) shall rank the relative benefit of projects to reduce seismic risk in comparison with other life safety and code requirement projects. Subject to availability of funding, all seismic rehabilitations or other actions to reduce seismic risk must be completed before January 1, 2032. If the building is listed on a national or state register of historic places or properties or is designated as a landmark by local ordinance, the plan for seismic rehabilitation or other action shall be developed in a manner that gives consideration to preserving the character of the building. [2001 c.797 §3; 2013 c.768 §162; 2015 c.767 §177]

Note: Section 3, chapter 798, Oregon Laws 2001, provides:

Sec. 3. Subject to available funding, if a building evaluated under section 2 (4) of this 2001 Act is found to pose an undue risk to life safety during a seismic event, the acute inpatient care facility, fire department, fire district or law enforcement agency using the building shall develop a plan for seismic rehabilitation of the building or for other actions to reduce the risk. Subject to available funding, all seismic rehabilitations or other actions to reduce the risk must be completed before January 1, 2022. If the building is listed on a national or state register of historic places or properties or is designated as a landmark by local ordinance, the plan for seismic rehabilitation or other actions shall be developed in a manner that gives consideration to preserving the character of the building. [2001 c.798 §3

The Funding – State Seismic Rehabilitation Grant:

There is no ‘match’ so to speak. Currently the max amount anyone can get for a building is set at $2.5M. We have two programs as mentioned above and both are supported with general obligation bonding. Since 2009 we started with $30M, then jumped it up to $200M based on the Oregon Resilience Plan. This current biennium we have $120M and Gov. Brown has an investment request for another $120M for the 19-21 BI. Usually the funds go about 80% for schools and 20% for the emergency service facilities. Voters approved these programs and they are in our state constitution under Article XI-M (schools) and Article XI-N (EM Fac). The link below will take you to the program that oversees the statewide programs.

https://www.orinfrastructure.org/Infrastructure-Programs/Seismic-Rehab/