Dear Management Doctor:

Occasionally I'm surprised to find jurisdictions across the country that have yet to adopt minimum standards for protection of life and property, particularly when hazards seem evident. While most of your readers are likely working for jurisdictions that have adopted and enforced zoning and building codes, I thought that some may still find this of interest. At the very least, it bolsters the argument for implementable plans, policies, and codes that consider health and safety. Perhaps too, these findings would help when "rightsizing" is being considered during the economic correction.

Note in particular the finding:

"(T)he U.S. is at risk when it retreats from proven mitigation tools contained in current code and when code enforcement capability and professional development is under-funded."


Dear Earthquake Concerned,

I certainly agree with your concerns. I am reminded of something out of my career, way back in the late 60's. I discussed it in Chapter 49 of my book, What Your Planning Professor Forgot to Tell You. Here it is:


Marin County is home to the San Andreas fault. After the Planning Commission approved plans for a brick church with a brick steeple sitting directly on top of the fault, we decided another approach might be called for.

The San Francisco Bay Area was filled with earthquake experts and the Geologic Services national office was nearby in Menlo Park. Since in the '60s California cities and counties hadn't yet addressed earthquake issues, it was easy to put together a volunteer committee of some of the country's best geologic scientists who felt the issue needed to be addressed. To add some weight and prestige to this effort, we decided to have the committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The Board turned us down by a three-to-two vote.

The chairman of the board said,

"It simply is not in the realm of sensible action to define the acts of God," and then cast his vote with the majority.

Sometimes it's better not to ask.

The Management Doctor