August 14, 2020 — Almost five months after the earthquake, Zagreb residents are still dodging plaster and brick “missiles” falling from building facades.
The term “new normal,” has taken on a different meaning for Zagreb city center and those who work there. Večernji list reports that, for locals, staying safe means walking at least a meter or two from any roof, balcony or overhang. Instead of looking forward, people are looking at the sky more often. Because, almost five months after the earthquake, there is chance that plaster, tile or bricks will come flying down. This is why printed warnings like “Caution” and “Danger, falling plaster” are posted everywhere in the city center.
Zagreb Falling Building Debris Hitting Residents, Cars
Zagreb city dwellers and visitors are sharing countless stories. One almost ended up hospitalized because of a falling “missile” which landed on the concrete sidewalk just a meter away. Falling building pieces are also landing on cars. Antonija Malenica Adamić, who lives on Prilaz Gjura Deželića, reports that falling plaster damaged her parked car in late July.
“Falling building debris damaged our second car in the same parking space. This happened after the earthquake completely destroyed our first car. It won’t happen again, I thought to myself, but look and behold, it happened! Fortunately, the damage was not significant. However, this is a reminder that the city center is still dangerous,” explains Malenica Adamić. Maja Romek also had a close encounter with falling pieces of plaster. One piece fell on Bauer’s shoulder. And that was last week.
“I thought that enough time had gone by and I didn’t have to worry. Now, my neck hurts more from looking up,” says Romek. Then she cites which Zagreb streets she believes are most dangerous: Ilica, Deželićeva, Petrinjska, Dragutina Domjanića, and around Mažuranac.
“Although, honestly, you should be careful everywhere,” she points out. Damir Borovčec from Zrinjevac also got hit by pieces of facade.
“I’ve also noticed that there is danger of entire ledges falling from buildings. These projectiles could kill someone, not just injure them,” he points out. Others are “resisting” repairing post-earthquake building facades because of the complexity of the procedure. Furthermore, who should pay for it? The Zagreb City Office for Construction indicated that the post-earthquake facade renovations are part of building maintenance. They added that these renovations can be done without a building permit. Under the Construction Act, they claim, building co-owners must cover the expenses themselves.
City Law Puts Maintenance Responsibility on Building Owners
According to current legal provisions, the City of Zagreb cannot repair earthquake-damaged buildings or organize their demolition. Residents must contact the building representative and building manager to repair or remove hazardous parts of a building. The Law on Reconstruction is currently under a second review. After its adoption, there may be legal provisions, that allow for a better solution.
However, not all Zagreb city center residents favor revisions. The new provisions may involve millions of kuna, especially if the building is protected as a cultural asset.
“The city or state must fully cover the cost of restoring city center buildings (after the earthquake). We are not to blame, and we simply cannot cover the repair costs,” Marcel Jelačić, of Gornji Grad, points out. Others, like Milivoj Žalud, believe that the solution involves compromise.
“I think the city should cover the cost of renovating the building facades, because they didn’t maintain them when the they were socially-owned before the war. However, it is also true that tenants didn’t really make an effort to invest in their own buildings after that. Plaster was falling even before the earthquake, though not to this extent. In my opinion, this is about shared responsibility,” claims Žalud.
Follow our Lifestyle page to stay updated on Zagreb efforts to repair earthquake damage. Check out the Potres u Zagrebu – Svi mi u Centru (Earthquake in Zagreb – All of Us in City Center) Facebook page here for more photos of earthquake damage.