Earthquake risk analysis for Los Angeles County under present and planned land uses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Local governments rarely use risk analysis, the most sophisticated level of hazard assessment, to inform their planning and development decisions. But new tools are rapidly becoming available to accomplish such analysis. In this paper we present an example of an earthquake risk analysis for Los Angeles County, using available land-use maps, a probabilistic earthquake hazard model developed by the Southern California Earthquake Center, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's new HAZUS earthquake loss estimation software. We computed the annual expected loss owing to earthquakes and the spatial variation of this risk. The analysis shows that the annual long-term earthquake risk in Los Angeles County, as a result of direct structural and nonstructural damage, is $388 million per year. We also investigated the extent to which planned future land-use growth would affect this risk estimate. We found that planned growth of 14.2% would result in an increase in annual risk to $449.5 million, a 15.8% increase over the risk to current land uses. Because of ever increasing disaster costs, planners need to be able to evaluate the risks that their communities face, both in the present and in the future. It is particularly important for planners to be sure that they are not disproportionately planning future growth for hazardous locations. In this paper we describe some ways in which to perform such evaluations, by using tools that have only recently become available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-432
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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