What is San Francisco Famous for?

 

Say it aloud: “San Francisco.”

Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

The Golden Gate Bridge?

Hills?

Fog?

Earthquakes?

If you don’t live here, I guess earthquakes are at the top.

For those of us that are lucky to live here, we have to make some kind of peace with the potential…eventuality…for a major earthquake. I’ve got a little tool handy to shut my natural gas. My water valve is also easily accessible. I’ve got an emergency kit in my car.

When I toyed with moving here in 2006, was surprised that homes in the Marina district, even those along the water, cost less than I might have thought, about 20% less than other districts.

“That’s because the Marina is mostly on fill and in a liquefaction zone,” said the realtor. LIQUEFACTION! Ick. During the last big earthquake, the Loma Prieta in 1989, most of the damage was centered in the Marina.

When I began looking seriously in 2015, that price differential had completely vanished.

“The last earthquake has faded that much from thought,” said the realtor. “And there is the assumption, true or not, that homes have been retrofitted.”

Thinking about this especially today as tomorrow early morning is the anniversary of the 1906 SF, which had an estimated magnitude of 7.8—compared to the 6.9 for the 1989 earthquake.

Until 1906, San Francisco was the most important city in the West. After that, major investment moved to other cities, especially Los Angeles. I wonder how impacted things would be if we didn’t have earthquakes to contend with.

In shopping for a place to live, I wanted bedrock! The disclosure packet for my house was 23 pages long, including abandoned gas stations a mile away.

Unlike many people, I’ve got earthquake insurance.

And life has been crazy for me the last few years. Divorce. Deaths. Moving. And so among the things I think about, earthquakes aren’t too high on the list, except as a reason to keep even more people from wanting to move here.

About Karen Ray

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