O’Rourke speaks about earthquake effects: Watch Live on March 7 or Watch Video on YouTube

PEER and the EERI Northern California Chapter jointly hosted the EERI distinguished lecture “The New Normal for Natural Disasters” by Professor Tom O’Rourke from Cornell University on December 6, 2012 at UC Berkeley. This lecture discussed the effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, Canterbury Earthquake Sequence, and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy with respect to their impact on regional and international economics, national practices for security and recovery, and worldwide energy policy. The recording is now posted at PEER’s YouTube channel with the intermittent audio static from the live webcast removed.

For those who would rather watch a live presentation, check out the opportunity to watch Professor O’Rourke live at Stanford University on March 7th as a part of the Shah Family Fund Distinguished Lecture Series.

Title: Earthquake Effects on Critical Infrastructure
Speaker: Tom O’Rourke, Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering, Cornell University
Date: March 7, 2013
Time: 4:30pm (Reception at 4:00pm)
Location: Stanford University, Li Ka Shing Conference Center, LKS240/250 Directions

More information about this event can be found at the Blume Center’s website.

Abstract: The effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and Canterbury Earthquake Sequence are discussed with respect to their impact on regional and international economics, national practices for security and recovery, and worldwide energy policy. The lecture explains why these events require a fundamental re-thinking of the way we evaluate the risks of extreme events, as well as define and protect critical infrastructure. The impact of the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence on the underground infrastructure in Christchurch is explored with the use of an extraordinary GIS data set covering the effects of both liquefaction-induced permanent ground deformation and transient ground motion for 3 different earthquakes. Lessons learned from Christchurch for Wellington, NZ and San Francisco, CA are discussed. To address the need for protection against rare, high consequence events with limited financial resources, a strategy for improving infrastructure resilience is proposed.

February 20th Chapter Meeting

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Join your Chapter Colleagues for a fascinating presentation about Owner Liability.

Time: 5:30-7:30pm
Where: 101 Eighth St, Association of Bay Area Governments, Oakland, CA (across the street from Lake Merritt BART) (Map)
RSVP: chapterinfo@eerinc.org by Monday February 18th. Please RSVP so that we order enough food; however, don’t hesitate to bring along a suddenly inspired co-worker at the last minute!

Owner Liability: A New Incentive to Act?


Ken_Moy Kenneth Moy
Kenneth Moy has served as Legal Counsel to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) since 1982 and to its affiliate entities, including the ABAG PLAN Corporation, ABAG Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, the San Francisco Bay Trail Project, and the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority since their inception. He has structured and assisted in the implementation of a broad range of intergovernmental projects and programs including the first multi-governmental office condominium, a municipal liability and property insurance pool, the pooled purchase of natural gas and electricity, and regional infrastructure planning and implementation.He coauthored with Jeanne Perkins a report on private sector liability for earthquake hazards and losses (1984) and an update on public sector liability for earthquake hazards and losses (1988).Kenneth received an A.B. (cum laude in English) from Princeton University in 1975 and J.D. from the University of California (Boalt Hall) in 1979. He was admitted to practice in the State of California and the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, November 1979.


Can building owners be held liable for their buildings in an earthquake? Does finding out more about a building’s potential liability increase an owner’s liability? Are there practical ways to promote safety and reduce liability?

A recent appellate court decision upheld a trial court award of$1.9 million in damages against a property owner for bodily injury caused by their URM building during an earthquake in Paso Robles, CA. The decision found that the ordinance requiring retrofit of URM buildings did not shield the owners from liability because the goal of the ordinance was to improve public safety. The jury concluded that the building owner was negligent in failing to perform a seismic retrofit that could have prevented these deaths.

There may be similarities between this case and other vulnerable structures, such as soft-story buildings, schools, and government facilities. Soft-story notification programs such as those taking place in the Bay Area are part of a broader societal trend recognizing the seismic hazards of soft‐story buildings that will make it harder for owners to avoid liability in future court cases. Owners will need to integrate this risk exposure into their enterprise goals.

Register today at:


EERI Northern California Chapter | c/o EERI National | 499 14th Street Suite 320 | Oakland, CA 94612-1934 USA | chapterinfo@eerinc.org