A major problem facing today's society is the effective translation of geoscience and engineering knowledge into public policy. This problem is especially severe in the area of earthquake hazard reduction and, more generally, in seismic safety policies. Although an exact inventory of all types of hazardous structures is not possible in many jurisdictions because the issue is politically sensitive, there probably are well over 100,000 such structures across the state of California. Carefully coordinated and large-scale intergovernmental effort involving the federal, state and local governments is necessary. This intergovernmental effort should also seek to involve important private sector interests. Only by combining political and economic resources through such a partnership will California be able to effectively reduce the life-safety threat posed by all types of hazardous structures before the next major earthquake.