SAN FRANCISCO—California architect Bill Melby has seen disasters and the aftermath many times during his decades-long career, and worries that the economic slowdown and pandemic may be taking real estate and business leaders' eyes off the ball. A cofounder of the Odiz-Melby design firm and statewide chair of the AIA Disaster Response Network, he's called upon from time to time to weigh in on planning strategies and readiness.

COVID is a slow-moving disaster but regular run-of-the-mill disasters can still happen any time, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires, as recent dry lightning sparks indicate, he says. In light of this year's fires and hurricanes, Melby decided to create a free downloadable handbook with more details than the typical "top fives" and "stop, drop and roll" educational efforts.

The handbook cites the types of calamities for which a business should plan, then gets into the tips, tactics, why and how-to of minimizing the consequences of disaster. Whether a business operation is at risk of hurricane, wildfire, "the big one" earthquake or other unforeseen events, Melby offers some recommendations such as:

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Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown is an editor for the south and west regions of She has 25-plus years of real estate experience, with a regional PR role at Grubb & Ellis and a national communications position at MMI. Brown also spent 10 years as executive director at NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area chapter, where she led the organization to achieving its first national award honors and recognition on Capitol Hill. She has written extensively on commercial real estate topics and edited numerous pieces on the subject.