University of California Transportation Center
Economic Impacts of the Loma Prieta Earthquake: A Focus on Small Businesses
- Author(s): Kroll, Cynthia A.
- Landis, John D.
- Shen, Qing
- Stryker, Sean
- et al.
On October 17, 1989, an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude on the Richter scale shook northern California. Centered in the Loma Prieta area of the Santa Cruz mountains, south of the San Francisco Bay Area, the quake caused significant damage not only in nearby cities such as Santa Cruz and Watsonville but also in major urban centers such as Oakland and San Francisco (see Figure 1). For a region long aware of earthquake risks, the quake was a sharp reminder of vulnerability. As history has shown, the area faces the potential risk of an earthquake of ten to fifteen times the magnitude of the October 17th quake, possibly centered much closer to urban centers, any time in the next few decades. The most recent major quake, then, has provided an opportunity to examine the regions economic vulnerability to the damage and disruption caused by earthquakes.