California Hospitals Want Delay For Seismic Retrofits

SACRAMENTO – Many California hospitals facing the 2008 deadline for earthquake upgrades are hoping they will get an extension.

According to the Sacramento Bee, 1,109 hospitals in the state are currently considered to be at risk of collapse during a major earthquake and by 2008 must be replaced or retrofitted to meet strict seismic safety standards. But with construction costs increasing by nearly two-thirds in the past three years, many hospitals are finding it difficult to make the upgrades in time.

The Hospital Building Safety Board has proposed California reassess these buildings with a new high-tech tool that is more accurate. Those high-risk structures that are retested and deemed less vulnerable would be given an extension to 2020 or 2030 to comply with the seismic safety standards. This new proposal would save the hospitals possibly billions of dollars, allowing them to avoid expensive quick fixes and plan for the changes more effectively.

The California Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are being lobbied by hospital officials for the revisions. Additionally, Senate Bill (SB) 1661 proposed by Sen. Dave Cox (R – Fair Oaks) is proposing extension options for hospitals with the 2013 deadline.

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