New Seismic Codes Could Prove Costly
(Memphis) One hundred thousand people could be hurt or killed if, experts say when, an earthquake hits the Mid-South.
An earthquake fault runs parallel to the Mississippi, and A few years ago FEMA warned that a serious earthquake in this fault would cause, “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States.”
“We as a community are dragging our feet on putting in more strict standards because we are in a seismic zone here,” said Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz.
Ritz believes it’s time to take action.
The city and county must adopt update seismic codes every seven years as technology changes.
Shelby County is still working on a code from nearly ten years ago.
“The state law requires us to have certain laws in place and if we don`t update them they`ll take over,” said Ritz.
Don Glays heads up the Memphis Area Home Builders Association, “It would stop the housing market in Memphis Shelby County.”
He says the plan being forced on Shelby County is for a seismic zone with much more activity like the San Andreas Fault in California.
“We don`t believe that is suitable from affordability prospective or a reasonably perspective to build to that level here in Shelby County,” said Glays.
The county commission can make changes to the 2012 International Building Code as long as the changes are not more lenient.
In the meantime Glays is working with experts to present an alternative plan to state lawmakers, “What we need to do is get the state to allow us to adopt local requirements that allow us to have a high level of safety at a reasonable cost. And that`s where we`re heading. At next week’s committee meeting the Commission will go through each proposed change to the code do decide where they want to make changes.”
Glays says the proposed changes could cause a new home’s price to go up ten to fifteen percent.
This means a $200,000 house would cost $240,000 because of the different guidelines.
The county commission is coordinating it’s votes with Memphis City Council in the next few weeks.
Ritz says the commission has already approved the new codes but they won’t go into effect until next summer to give people like Glays and the homebuilders association a change to work with state lawmakers.