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South Bay Homes Earthquake Risk – How to Prepare

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey and Hurricane Irma, it got me thinking about Southern California’s greatest natural disaster risk: Earthquakes.

I vividly remember the 1994 Northridge earthquake while growing up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. My parents woke me up to get into the door jams while our home was shaking. It did not last long but I remember watching our entry way ceiling pendant sway from side-to-side for a minute or two. And that was it…no big deal. But, in Northridge and throughout parts of the San Fernando Valley, it was a much different story.

What is the Risk in the South Bay?
A recent L.A. Times article by Rong-Gong Lin II gave some great insight on the impact of earthquakes throughout the greater Los Angeles area. For the South Bay, two of the biggest risks are the San Andreas Fault and the Palos Verdes Fault. The article paints a “grim” picture of a 7.8 to 8.2 San Andreas quake. Scientists predict an earthquake like this could be up to 45 times stronger than Northridge.

I found watching this San Andreas animation terrifying and comforting all at the same time. The terrifying aspect is how hard Metro L.A. would be hit, but I was comforted (selfishly) that the South Bay is far away from the epicenter. The South Bay beaches would have muted intensity with less shaking while most of the P.V. Peninsula would be spared relative to Metro L.A.

Palos Verdes Fault Risk to the South Bay
The Palos Verdes Fault is what should concern the P.V. Peninsula and the South Bay beaches. Part of this fault runs through Valmonte and into Hollywood Riviera and could cause extreme shaking and damage to homes in the local area. To see the damage that could occur, check out this report….a little scary, huh?

If you dig a bit deeper into the report, you will find estimates on damage, building loss, and displacement. You can see that the Valmonte census tract would have 8 – 21 households displaced while areas in Lunada Bay away from the fault would see less displacement but still a projected 2 – 7 households. What was even more interesting, is that even though the Manhattan Beach Tree Section is farther from the P.V. fault, the tract south of Ardmore/Valley would see the same amount of homes displaced as Valmonte.

Do Your Homework
I own multiple income properties along with other investors in the area and we have opted to pass on earthquake insurance due to the expensive premiums and outrageous deductibles. The price just does not pencil for the risk. That does not mean earthquake insurance is not right for your property, so please do your homework.

1. See the Rong-Gong Lin II article here.
2. Study the San Andreas animation along with the link I provided to the P.V. Fault.
3. Use temblor.net to type in your address and asses your risk. My parents live in Valmonte nearby the P.V. Fault and it shows that their risk is relatively low where I would not opt for earthquake insurance if it were my home.
4. If you own a one-level home, then it might be worth bolting your structure to the foundation. A few thousand dollars in retrofitting could offset the risk of a few hundred thousand dollars worth of repairs.
5. Consult with your insurance broker on whether or not earthquake insurance is right for you.

Other Helpful Resources

How to prepare (L.A. Times)

SoCal Earthquake Center

Earthquake Insurance Opinion (L.A. Times)

California Earthquake Authority