Santa Clara County

In wake of Napa earthquake, Gilroy buildings being retrofitted

Retrofitting in Gilroy

GILROY, Calif. - Retrofit work is being done in the city of Gilroy's downtown area- to prevent the kind of damage seen in the Napa Valley.

A while back, the Gilroy City Council passed a strict ordinance forcing select business owners to retrofit their buildings or face closure and fines. According to the city, 17 masonry buildings need to be retrofitted. Five of those retrofit projects are currently underway, while the other business owners are still trying to figure things out with the city planner.

Gary Walton is a private developer and owns several buildings in the downtown area.

"I would say the biggest problem that we've had in downtown is just the property owners haven't had the money to do the retrofitting," said Walton.

Walton had one building that needed to be retrofitted, he replaced the brick wall, a falling hazard in the case of an earthquake.

But he said the repairs were minor compared to others. Some retrofits can cost more than the value of the building.

"I would say on a typical building it's going to be at least $100,000 in retrofit on up," said Walton.

It's also up to the property owner to come up with the money for the repairs. But how are businesses supposed to pay for the retrofit? Several stores were forced to close their doors, so they're not generating any income.

"There haven't been any financial incentives from the city to help with that expense," said Walton.

And it can be a huge expense. However, in the event of an earthquake retrofitting will mean less damage to the building and those inside.

Walton is also part of the Unreinforced Masonry Task Force in Gilroy. It's a group made up of both property owners and city officials all working together to get this large retrofit project moving forward.

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