San Diego is more seriously at risk of earthquake devastation than previously thought.

A new, five-year study unveiled this year by the Engineering and Environmental Research Institute projects grim outcomes for the San Diego area should the Rose Canyon fault explode with a devastating 6.9-magnitude earthquake:

  • $38 billion in building and infrastructure damage (roughly 10% of the total value of buildings and infrastructure in the region)
  • 120,000 buildings sustaining moderate to complete damage
  • 8,000 buildings damaged beyond repair
  • 36,000 households displaced
Retrofits Lower Risks, Insurance Costs for S.D.’s new Grim Scenario

Photo Credit To LA Times

“Older, highly vulnerable structure types will be hardest hit, causing extensive damage, many building losses, and many possible casualties,” the study found. “These older structure types including unreinforced masonry (URM) and older non-ductile concrete structures, have a long track record of poor seismic performance and yet, with few exceptions, have not been seismically retrofitted in the San Diego area beyond a partial retrofit program for URM buildings. Collapse or damage of these structures would add complexity to the emergency response, increase the number of human casualties, exacerbate financial loss, and delay recovery for the San Diego Region.”

Heightened understanding of our earthquake risks has prompted a record number of Californians to get earthquake insurance, and more and more cities throughout the state are passing laws to make buildings safer in a quake.

In 2016, the number of people signing up for an earthquake policy jumped more than seven-fold compared to previous years, the California Earthquake Authority reported, citing increased awareness about the threat of a major earthquake.

“Perhaps Californians are considering what scientists have been saying about earthquake risks in California,” the CEA reported. “They now say there is a greater-than-99-percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake, and a 93 percent chance of a magnitude 7.0 or greater occurring in California in the next 30 years.”

A magnitude 7.0 quake, the CEA said, would be three times stronger than the 1994 Northridge quake that flattened apartment complexes, overpasses and other structures.

Earthquake retrofits can increase the amount of credits applied to a policy, resulting in discounts of up to 20 percent, Bichlmeier said. That’s because a retrofitted building has little risk of failing in a quake.

“Retrofitting is the most important thing we can do because it saves lives,” he said. “Insurance doesn’t save lives. It saves your asset.”

Beyond that, retrofits add to the value of a property as an important – and sometimes mandatory – structural improvement.

Potential buyers know that the building is safer, and that boosts the property appraisal.

“Most apartment owners have worked very hard for their property,” Bichlmeier said. “It’s what they rely on for their retirement, and it’s in their best interest to protect it.”

Is your building at risk? Thousands are.  Use that knowledge to protect your future.  Contact Optimum Seismic today at or call (833)978-7663 to arrange for a free property assessment