Miami condo collapse raises possible concerns for builders in Long Beach

You would be surprised how similar Long Beach and Miami are.

Long Beach’s Building Superintendent David Khorram, pointed out that the building that collapsed in Florida was built about 40 years ago and there are many mid and high rise residential buildings that age in Long Beach.

As coastal cities, construction in both areas have to take into account the sandy subsoil. While California codes gear toward earthquake safety and Florida’s concentrates on hurricanes, they both follow and add to international standards.

The codes for the most part remain similar between the one enforced 40 years ago and the one today. However, the Sylmar quake prompted subtle changes.

RELATED: Miami-area condo collapse: At least 4 dead, 159 missing as search continues

If you want to see what that looks like, head to downtown Long Beach where the old City Hall is being dismantled. City employees moved to the beautiful, shiny building that is much safer (and shorter)than the old high rise. It’s part of what has been dubbed as a Renaissance of construction in Long Beach, especially at the Civic Center and the Port.

RELATED: Earthquake code makes it 'much less likely' for California buildings to collapse like Florida

"We are following what is going on in Florida closely," said Khorram, who also teaches at Saddleback College. The lessons from what comes out of the Florida collapse will be as useful to his inspectors as well as students of engineering, design and architecture, he emphasized.
"The building was there for 40 or so years and while the collapse was sudden, the cause probably wasn’t," he added.

He believes there might have been a gradual shift or crack that led to the accident.

He emphasizes that inspections are important during and after construction. In Long Beach, every time there is an upgrade in any building, everything has to be done to the new codes. At the same time, his department also depends on residents, building owners, and even designers to report issues – and not only code violations. 

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"If you start seeing cracks that are unusual on the walls of your condo on Ocean Blvd, for example, give us a call". 

He knows there are owners who want to save money and avoid updates to older structures, "but they will pay a lot more if there is a problem like what we saw in Miami, which is a tragedy. No amount of money can bring back a person’s life".