As part of Building Safety Month 2021, SEAOSC hosted a group of building officials from across California, practicing engineers, and representatives from EERI and the National Association of Home Builders to discuss functional recovery. This second annual event was held in partnership with CalBO and ICC.
SEAOSC Board Member Susan Dowty of ICC presented FEMA P-2090: Recommended Options for Improving the Built Environment for Post-Earthquake Reoccupancy and Functional Recovery Time, and Ryan Kersting of SEAOC updated the more than 75 attendees about pending California Legislation related to it (AB 1329).In addition, SEAOSC Existing Buildings Committee Chair Daniel Zepeda introduced the group to SEAOSC’s Safer Cities Advisory Program.
After hearing the updates, the attendees were separated into breakout rooms to discuss the issues and how functional recovery impacts individual jurisdictions. The groups recognized that our communities may need to respond to multiple hazards. Having the right resources available are critical to success, such as access to electronic records and enough staff available to respond. Many participants were taking lessons from the pandemic and seeing how they could be applied to the next disaster, for example expanding essential facilities to include grocery stores and pharmacies. Remote operations will be an essential tool in serving our communities in the next disaster.
The group discussed concerns about the cost impact of functional recovery, including the current shortage and the rising cost of materials. Functional recovery may best to be done at a state level rather than individual city level, given that different communities have different resources available. Availability and timing of funding from insurance claims and FEMA was also discussed. Political momentum can be difficult to achieve but it’s essential to execute these efforts.
There was widespread consensus that functional recovery needs to include existing buildings as well as new constriction. Understanding different construction types, building inventories, and building vulnerabilities is needed. It’s important that planning is holistic; for example, including stakeholders, first responders, and inspectors to ensure people know how to implement the plan.
Many participants spoke about the importance of communication and messaging. We need to help stakeholders and decision makers understand building performance and recovery time, as well as the nuance between functional recovery vs safety standards vs community resiliency. With education and political will, we can be prepared for a successful functional recovery in the future.