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News: Legislative Updates

A Snapshot Update on Functional Recovery Activities

Thursday, August 22, 2019  

By Ryan Kersting, SE, SEAOC Legislative Committee Chair and SEAOC Functional Recovery Working Group Chair

Here is an update from the SEAOC Functional Recovery Working Group (or SEAOC FR WG for short) on various activities relating to the topic of functional recovery..

After the response received from the call for interested members to send in a letter back in April/May, SEAOC formed the SEAOC Functional Recovery Working group, which has balanced representation from SEAOC’s regional associations and SEAOC’s standing committees while also includes general members who expressed interest.

The SEAOC FR WG has been having web meetings roughly every other week since late June. It has been a very dynamic conversation and environment, and it has been tough to stop to give an update without feeling like the update might already be out-of-date.

The group began by reviewing working drafts of some documents that EERI had already been working on (in the spirit of SEAOC’s MOU with EERI to work together on the topic of functional recovery). Our review of the functional recovery framework paper included some suggested revisions that EERI incorporated prior to publishing their paper which was officially announced earlier this month (see attached EERI paper). The group’s thoughts on the EERI paper were discussed with the SEAOC Executive Committee, who agreed it would be appropriate to write a statement from SEAOC’s perspective on the functional recovery topic and to indicate alignment with EERI on the building design and retrofit concepts included in their framework white paper. That statement has been shared with EERI for them to use in conjunction with their white paper (see attached SEAOC statement). Conversations moving forward are using EERI’s working definition: “Functional recovery is a post-earthquake state in which capacity is sufficiently maintained or restored to support pre-earthquake functionality,” where it is understood that the time needed to achieve functional recovery will vary by occupancy or use of the facility.

SEAOC’s FR WG will continue to meet on a regular basis and will be focusing on getting into the next level of details about what design criteria might be appropriate for a building code or standard to adopt/develop in order to achieve certain performance goals in terms of functional recovery time for various occupancies.

There are many groups discussing functional recovery and those discussions are very fluid. Thankfully, SEAOC is well represented, is playing a leadership role in many of these, and is successfully connecting our committees and members to these conversations through the SEAOC Legislative Committee and FR WG. Here is a quick update on some of those other activities:

CA AB 393

SEAOC continues to sponsor this legislation which would for a working group to consider how a functional recovery standard might be implemented for California. The SEAOC Legislative Committee is continuing to advocate for this bill in partnership with other supporting organizations including EERI, AIA-CC, ACEC-CA, ASCE Region 9, and more. The bill will be heard in the Senate later this month, and if passed, would go to the Governor’s desk. His decision on the bill would come sometime in September or early October.

FEMA-NIST Committee of Experts on Functional Recovery

The 2018 reauthorization of NEHRP charged NIST and FEMA with convening a committee of experts to “assess and recommend options for improving the built environment and critical infrastructure to reflect performance goals stated in terms of post-earthquake reoccupancy and functional recovery time” and to include these in a report to Congress by June, 2020. FEMA has contracted with ATC to form a project technical panel (PTP) that includes a number of SEAOC members, including Chris Poland (representing EERI), Ron Hamburger (representing ASCE), Susan Dowty (representing ICC), Greg Deierlein (representing Stanford), David Bonowitz (representing PUC IT1), Jon Heintz (representing ATC), and Ryan Kersting (representing SEAOC and chair of the PTP). The NIST-FEMA committee (PTP and PRP) will be meeting a number of times over the coming months, including holding stakeholder workshops to inform the preparation of the report to Congress. SEAOC’s FR WG, in collaboration with EERI, will be able to collaborate with and provide input to the NIST-FEMA committee.

ICC/CALBO Seismic Roundtable

On Thursday July 25, ICC and CALBO, with support from SEAOC, hosted a “Seismic Roundtable” event in Sacramento to hear presentations from various groups working on the topic of functional recovery and to brainstorm some options for a roadmap for functional recovery within the context of the IBC. In the morning, presentations were given by Chris Poland (NIST Community Resilience Fellow); SK Ghosh and ICC; FEMA and NIST; Asm. Nazarian; SEAOC and EERI; ATC; and ASCE-SEI. In the afternoon, a facilitated brainstorming workshop considered how many ways can we get there, how we might get there faster (overcome challenges and obstacles), and how we can work together. The sessions were attended by members from state agencies, CALBO / local jurisdictions, ICC, EERI, SEAOC, AIA, and other interested parties. A follow-up session is schedule for the ICC Annual Conference in October.

EERI Public Policy and Advocacy Committee

The EERI Public Policy and Advocacy Committee (PPAC) meets regularly to discuss California legislation and EERI’s efforts to continue developing the concept of functional recovery and possible policy statements related to functional recovery. The SEAOC Legislative Committee and Functional Recovery Working Group are well-connected with EERI’s efforts and look forward to continued collaboration.