Quake-prone building owners fail to display stickers
Owners of earthquake-prone buildings in Wellington have been failing to display the yellow stickers warning people of the risks they face by entering.
Wellington City Council is reminding building owners that the must be displayed prominently - or they could face a $5000 fine.
The reminder comes after council staff spotted a number of confirmed earthquake-prone buildings failing to display the notices.
Buildings are considered earthquake-prone if they meet less than 34 per cent of the building code.
Once a building has been found to be earthquake-prone, it can be issued with a yellow sticker, setting out a timeframe for either strengthening it or knocking it down.
The length of time depends on the level of risk, the building's use and number of people who use it.
Buildings that pass the deadline without any work being done, or are damaged in some way making them dangerous, can be red-stickered, requiring them to close immediately.
Any building with a yellow sticker is legally required to display it in a prominent place.
To date, about 470 buildings in the city have been confirmed to be earthquake-prone.
The council's seismic activity manager Steve Cody said staff members out issuing new notices in the past week had noticed some buildings failing to display their signs.
"It's something I'm looking into at the moment ... It is a concern for me if people are starting to remove the notices."
He would not say which buildings had been spotted failing to comply, and said no fines had been handed out.
Most building owners were compliant, and it was only recently that a problem has arose, so the council would give owners the benefit of the doubt that the signs were not intentionally removed before resorting to fines, he said.
"They should be reading the notices and if they do remove or deface them intentionally then obviously there's going to be potential legal ation."
They did not have staff dedicated to checking buildings displayed the signs.
Built environment portfolio leader, councillor Iona Pannett, said people had a right to know the state of the building they were entering, so no more than one warning would be acceptable.
"I would be very concerned if people were consistently taking these signs down ... if people want to get rid of those they need to strengthen their building."
Council spokesman Richard MacLean said fines would be considered for repeat offenders.
However, the level of the fine compared to something like a parking fine, and the fact it had to be proven a sign was intentionally removed, meant warnings would be the first step.
It was similar to warnings given out in the first few days after a car registration expired, he said.
"The same sort of leeway applies."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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