Earthquakes are ingrained in San Francisco culture. Two major quakes – in 1906 and 1989 – dramatically reshaped the city, and have seared the could-happen-at-any-moment possibility of another big one in the minds of many people in the city and the Bay Area region. Mostly it’s a quiet concern or background noise that fades deep into a pile of more pressing day-to-day concerns. But the thought is still there, and the next big one, technically, could happen at any moment.
This inevitability of loss, though, has been a challenge from a policy and political perspective. Locals and politicians alike are at least slightly convinced another earthquake is coming, and that it could be as or even worse than 1906 and 1989. But when? And how much city money should be spent to prepare for it?