Loma Prieta Turns 21, a Sobering Reminder for a More Resilient San Francisco

COLEEN MCHUGH
October 22, 2010

Long-time and fair-weather Giants fans alike are enjoying a thrilling — yet quintessentially torturous — postseason this October, hoping for a fourth World Series trip since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Listening to postseason baseball commentary is often a lesson in history — or at least a lesson in obscure team records for most strikeouts in a playoff game or what players have hit the first three homeruns for their team in a postseason series. Sunday marked the 21st anniversary of another moment in Giants history — what would have been Game Three at Candlestick Park in the Battle of the Bay World Series against the Oakland A's. But as we well know, fans at Candlestick and across the Bay Area on that Tuesday evening in October were treated to a 6.9M earthquake instead of a baseball game.

Loma Prieta may be drinking-aged, but this anniversary acts as a sobering reminder of all we still need to do as a city to prepare for the next major quake — one that scientists suggest may be even bigger. In particular, San Francisco has done little to retrofit and protect its most vulnerable housing structures. Many soft-story buildings — those with openings such as garage doors or large windows, and lacking interior partition walls on the ground floor — sustained damage after Loma Prieta, and several collapsed completely. There are about 2,800 similarly vulnerable soft-story structures throughout the city that need to be strengthened. Proposition A on November's ballot is a first step in doing just that. This $46.15 million general obligation bond would fund specific seismic improvements to permanently retrofit affordable housing and single room occupancy buildings that have seismically vulnerable soft-story conditions. For further analysis on Prop A and the City's other ballot measures, see SPUR's Voter Guide.

The following are a collection images from 1989 of soft-story damage after the Loma Prieta Earthquake. If you're interested in helping with the Proposition A campaign, please send an email to volunteer@spur.org. Go Giants!

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