COVINA – Leaders in this suburban community, home to 60 unreinforced masonry buildings – mostly in the downtown business section – want to prevent a disaster.To stave off building collapses in an earthquake, city officials want owners to retrofit the buildings. As a first step, Covina will launch a program where owners can apply for city funds to pay for an engineer to check any unreinforced masonry buildings.Under the voluntary program, owners can be eligible for money to cover the cost of an engineer’s test. But that is all the city will pay for. Any problems revealed by the test will be the owners’ responsibility to repair.The City Council recently approved the program, which will be funded by $200,000 from one of the city’s redevelopment agency’s project areas.“Excellent. We are taking the first steps in making the downtown businesses much safer,” said Covina Mayor Peggy Delach.Several council members want the program to become mandatory.“Voluntary isn’t good enough. We need to motivate (property owners) to bring (buildings) to code,” said Councilman Kevin Stapleton.Engineers estimated that bringing 100 percent of the 60 potentially hazardous buildings up to code would cost about $8 million, according to a staff report. The same report said some buildings on the list could be demolished, depending on the result of testing.“We may find out that some are reinforced,” said Mike Marquez, Covina’s community development director. “We don’t have an idea as to the severity of the conditions.”The city hopes to meet with the building owners next month. But they won’t have to go far to find one owner.The Covina redevelopment agency owns five of the 60 potentially hazardous structures: 310 N. Citrus Ave., 543 N. Citrus Ave., 151 E. College St., 159 E. College St. and 118 E. Italia St.The Citrus Avenue properties are in the middle of a proposed housing/commercial development. Marquez said the two buildings will probably not be retrofitted and will likely be torn down if the council approves that project.Covina-Valley Unified School District is listed by the city as owning one of the 60 buildings.Darrell Myrick, one of the school board members, said he hadn’t heard of the city’s new program.“This is something the city just passed,” he said. “We will take a good hard look at it. We’ll make a decision in the best interest of the district” and the students.However, the district may not have to do anything. The city lists it as the owner of a building at 120 School St. but district officials said the welding center, which is an adult education program, is at 126 School St. [email protected](626) 962-8811, Ext. 2718 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!