Earthquake Reality in San Francisco

As I sit here at the playground in the heart of Cole Valley, I’m looking at the homes around me (within eyesight) from a different perspective, that of how many were built after 1906. From what I can see…all of them!

What strikes me is the thought of that photo in a previous post which showed the city flattened (maybe someone can put up the link?). When selling a home today, we always say, “it survived the 1989 Loma Prieta quake”, but it’s scary to think of something stronger and all these homes around me gone.

That’s my morbid thought of the day. Cocktails!

Posted from iPhone

11 thoughts on “Earthquake Reality in San Francisco”

  1. It wasn’t so much as the earthquake that destroyed the city, but the fire that followed the 1906 quake.

    Best thing to do to incentivize seismic retrofit is to eliminate rent control (there are over 150,000 rent controlled units in the city and we are a majority renter city). The elimination of rent control can be taxed to fund affordable housing. Let the market fix the problem – not some draconian, impossible to implement, mandate to retrofit.

  2. Dede,

    Right you are about the fire. But seriously, next time you’re at a vantage point to see a lot of San Francisco and its homes, picture them gone. Whether it be quake, or fire, or tsunami, or A-bomb. That’s what it must have felt for the residents back in 1906.

  3. I’ve seen a bit of large scale destruction before, but not here, and on a much smaller scale. Watched a friends neighborhood burn down once in 1987 – 31 homes. Can’t imagine what 1906 was like or the Oakland Hills fire in 1991. Pretty scary stuff, I hear you. Especially when you start thinking about it happening to your family when your not at home. Never want to see that again. Thanks for helping me see context.

  4. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. It could be anything, and here the risk of Earthquake and the myriad of bad things that could result from earthquake are very real. Anybody that thinks otherwise is a bit delusional, in my humble opinion. I’m not suggesting we live in fear and all flee the Bay Area, because that would be silly, I’m just saying, “don’t think it can’t happen here….again.”

  5. I was living in Cow Hollow during the 89 quake. We sat on the roof of our green street buiding and listened as police cars drove by using their loudspeakers to say that with no water pressure, the “Marina could burn all the way to Lombard Street”, which they were going to use as a fire break! The only thing that stopped the fire were some fire boats that came to the aid by pumping bay water up through a network of fire hoses connected by neighbors to put out the fires.

    I believe it was over two months until we had gas service back at the corner of Pierce and Green. What that meant in our building was no hot water, and no cooking. The ATM cash network in the city was down for weeks also.

    Remember, the 89 quake centerpoint was in the hills above Santa Cruz. I cannot even begin to imagine what a similar quake will do to the city if it is on the Hayward Fault, or in the city itself.

  6. Exactly! We’re all going to get wiped off this planet in one way or another. Fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, plague, West Nile, shark attack, car accident. Might as well enjoy where you are, while you’re here. I’m convinced when your card is pulled…time to go.

    My wife always nudges me when I say someone died of natural causes. Nobody dies of natural causes. Heart failure? Not natural. Parkinson’s? Not natural. Cancer? Not natural. Old age? Some part of your body failed and quit. Simple as that. Some just last longer than others.

    This is my morbid alter ego talking. Maybe I should go be an editor of another real estate ssite. ;-)

  7. Was anyone else here in 89? If you were, you would NOT own in the Marina, or some other hoods as well. Even parts of Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights will suffer from liquifaction. My point is not that I want to live somewhere else, but, even if you own on bedrock, your water and gas and internet will be down for weeks. I experienced it, how about any of you?

    By the way, why are the most horrible urban alternatives always given when telling someone to leave San Francisco? I lived in Chicago and Denver and loved those cities as well. I am an architect, and the SFGOV website predicts that up to 1/3 of the structures in San Francisco will be unhabitable after a 7.5 quake based in the city. Instead of talking about Cancer and Texas, how about talking about encouraging property owners to make their structures safer?

    [Editor’s note: Amen! Sometimes I like to just poke a little fun, but you make some very excellent points, and no, I wasn’t here in ’89.]

  8. I made the point becuase they (N.O. and Texas) are getting a hurricance right now. I could have used Florida, or St.Louis. We are not the only place that is in the line of nature, and far from it. My daughter had an “earthquake drill” in school today, I had tornado drills, my wife had the earthquake variety. Lots of tornadoes since then, only 1 quake. I’m not making light of the earthquake, and people should be prepared; but there are many types of natural disasters many with much more frequent occurances. But don’t live in the Marina.

  9. Thanks editor. If I can just add one very strong memory from the earthquake of 89 that was rather beautiful as well. On the first nights almost the entire Bay Area was without electricity and the stars in the sky and milky way looked like what one might see in Alaska or some other remote area. The light actually reflected on the bay, and the moon seemed very bright as well.

    On Green Street we had nightly bbq’s and lots of wine and I did get to know my neighbors. With the refridgerators not working we did run out of food, but the sharing was very uplifting.

    I chose to drive down to Santa Barbara and stay in a hotel for a couple of weeks till services were restored but others could not afford this and were really stuck. But I was lucky to have almost a full tank and could get all the way to Salinas where the power was ON. ALL gas stations in the northern part of the Bay Area were closed due to no electrical power, and there were huge gas lines off 101 near San Jose. Highway 1 was closed, 280 was open and 101 was closed south of San Jose.

    The 89 quake was not huge in magnitude or length, but when we do get hit by a big one, it will not be wine and cheese with your neighbors, even on outer Broadway. I always have a store of water, food, batteries, and cash, and still try to keep my gas tank above half full. I imagine we will all experience something at least as great as 89 again in our lifetimes, let’s just hope it is not worse and similar to the 06 quake.

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