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An aerial view of downtown San Francisco. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The newfound wealth from San Francisco's tech boom isn't translating to more sophisticated earthquake safety measures, reports the LA Times.

Why it matters: Earthquakes pose the greatest natural threat to northern California's economy and infrastructure, but the Bay Area's cities — once national leaders in safety — are now falling behind their neighbors in southern California.

The vulnerabilities, according to the Times...

  • "There are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 brittle concrete buildings in San Francisco — a building type that is one of the deadliest in earthquakes — yet the city does not have a list of where they are located."
  • "In Oakland, there are nearly 2,000 possibly vulnerable wood-frame apartment buildings at risk of collapse in a seismic event — and there is no law to require them to be fixed."
  • "The report said 17,000 units in Oakland’s soft-story apartments or condominiums could be declared uninhabitable after a major earthquake — 10% of the city’s housing supply. ... Yet four years later, no proposal for a mandatory retrofit law has been introduced by the City Council."
  • "San Jose doesn’t even have a list of its more than 1,000 apartment buildings thought to be at risk."

A suggestion: Utilizing the Bay Area's tech wealth to push for a massive retrofitting update — which happened thanks to a series of quakes in populated areas of the state from 1970s to the 1990s — but has stalled since northern California hasn't faced a "big one" since 1989's Loma Prieta quake.

  • The Times spoke to structural engineer Janiele Maffei, former board member of the Oakland-based Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, who said: “The minute you start that clock, you’re ahead. The minute you say you’re not going to start that clock for 10 years, you’re behind.”

Go deeper

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Philanthropy in the age of crypto

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The best charities are increasingly effective. That's the clear message sent by Open Philanthropy, the think tank that doubles as the grant-making vehicle for Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna.

Why it matters: With tech and crypto wealth becoming a fast-growing part of the philanthropic pie, there's more of an emphasis than ever on effectiveness — what the newly-divorced Melinda French Gates, in her recent Giving Pledge update, characterizes as giving as "impactfully as possible."

4 hours ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.

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