Garcetti’s response to the Times’ work in bringing the concrete-building problem to light seems a reasonable, if cautious, one: He is talking to earthquake experts, assigning lawyers to examine the legalities of the situation, and looking into the possibility of getting some kind of state assistance, perhaps in the form of a statewide loan program, for concrete building retrofits. “We won’t turn things around in a day,” the mayor told the Times.

But the government’s wheels are at least starting to turn. There’s a chance now that a dangerous hazard will be addressed—and that lives will be spared the next time a major earthquake hits. And it is clear that the Los Angeles Times’ enterprising journalism gave the push needed to get the policy process rolling.

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John Mecklin is the California and Nevada correspondent for the United States Project, CJR's politics and policy desk. He is the deputy editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Follow him on Twitter @meckdevil.