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Santa Barbara Residents Now Eligible For State Earthquake Retrofitting Grants

Some Santa Barbara homeowners can now receive grants of up to $3,000 to help protect their houses against earthquake damage.

Earthquake Brace + Bolt representatives announced last week that eligible residents can apply to fund an earthquake retrofitting project in their homes.

The newly expanded program, funded and co-managed by the California Earthquake Authority and the California Office of Emergency Services, is offered for the first time in four years to Santa Barbara houses in the 93101 and 93103 ZIP codes.

Online registration ends Feb. 27.

During a strong earthquake, the crawl space under a house is vulnerable to collapse, causing the structure to topple or slide off its foundation, according to Earthquake Brace + Bolt.

A seismic retrofit secures the house by bolting it to its foundation and adding plywood to brace the walls in the crawl space.

Officials said a typical retrofit costs between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on the location and size of the house, contractor fees, and the amount of materials and work involved.

Houses that qualify for the program are typically pre-1979 construction, have a raised continuous perimeter concrete foundation, are built on level or a low slope, and have wood-frame walls or low walls between the foundation and first floor.

The California Earthquake Authority estimates there are more than 1.2 million such houses in high-hazard areas in the state.

Unbraced wood-framed “cripple walls” make the crawl space likely to collapse, according to Earthquake Brace + Bolt.

The vulnerability is “very” prevalent in pre-1940 houses, said Janiele Maffei, chief mitigation officer of the California Earthquake Authority and executive director of Earthquake Brace + Bolt.

“A large percentage of homes — in particularly the downtown area of Santa Barbara — were constructed during that time frame,” she said.

“The cripple wall problem is found in older homes, and the Santa Barbara area has beautiful, old homes that were designed and built before seismic codes were readily adopted throughout California.”

The Earthquake Brace + Bolt program opened registration this year for $6 million in grants for seismic retrofits.

Throughout California, homeowners in 141 ZIP codes in 33 cities are eligible. The two Santa Barbara ZIP codes are the only eligible neighborhoods in Santa Barbara County.

The risk is determined by combining local geological hazard with the vulnerability of older homes and the construction type, according to Earthquake Brace + Bolt.

Expanding the program “is an important step forward in preparing California for a large earthquake,” said Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks. “Bracing and bolting homes to their foundation can help protect property and save lives.”

Nazarian helped secure the state-funded program.

In the aftermath of a magnitude-6.0 earthquake in Napa County in August, a California Earthquake Authority survey found that owners often thought their houses were retrofitted when they were not, and others did not know whether their house had undergone retrofitting.

After the Napa quake, houses with foundation damage received estimates of up to $300,000 for repairs, including lifting the house while the foundation could be rebuilt, according to Earthquake Brace + Bolt.

Click here to register for the program as a homeowner.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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