Los Angeles became the first city in the nation to approve seismic standards for new cellphone towers.
The proposal, passed by the City Council on an 11-0 vote, requires new freestanding cellphone towers to be built to the same seismic standards as public safety facilities, said the LA Times. Cellphone towers are currently built only strong enough to not collapse and kill people during a major earthquake. They're not required to be strong enough to continue working, said the LA Times.
"The new law will not require a retrofit of existing cellphone towers. Retrofitting an existing tower would be as expensive as building a new one," said the LA Times. "As a result, the [Los Angeles] mayor suggested focusing only on new cellphone towers, which would increase construction costs by 10% to 20%.
Another limitation of the law is that it won't apply to new towers attached to buildings, which currently make up about 60% of cellphone transmitters in Los Angeles. Many towers are placed on aging structures that could be at risk of collapsing in an earthquake, said the LA Times.
Mayor Garcetti has proposed other arrangements to deal with communication vulnerabilities, the report says, adding that he is working on an agreement with cellphone providers to share network and wireless Internet access with customers of other networks during an emergency.
He is also working on other backup plans such as solar-powered, free WiFi that could be accessed at schools, libraries and recreation centers.