Tags: quake | faults | mapping

Quake Faults Mapping, Needed Before Construction, Hits Snag in Calif.

Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 03:46 PM

By Robin Farmer

A California state senator urged lawmakers Monday to increase money for mapping earthquake faults to prevent buildings from being built in dangerous places.

The California Geological Survey needs to complete about 300 more fault maps, including some covering highly populated areas like the Westside of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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But the budget for mapping will run out after work on the Hollywood fault is completed early next year.

"It boggles my mind," Sen. Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) told the Los Angeles Times. "Every day across California, local planning departments are making decisions, and we need to make sure that no future buildings are going to be built on fault lines simply because a map wasn't updated."

His comments followed the newspaper’s Monday report that at least 18 buildings, including apartments and a grocery store, on or near the Santa Monica and Hollywood faults were approved for construction in the past 10 years without the comprehensive studies that would have been mandated if the faults had been zoned.

"Most people are completely unaware that you have a whole bunch of buildings being built along earthquake fault lines. Because they're not supposed to be built there," Lieu told the newspaper.

Without a fault zone designation, the public, including homeowners, may not know it exists.

Officials estimate about 300 more maps need to be drawn to represent nearly 2,000 miles of faults across the state, CBS Los Angeles reported.

No funds are available to draw zones for the communities surrounding the Santa Monica fault and other faults in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, and the Napa and Lake Tahoe areas among others.

California lawmakers banned new buildings on top of earthquake faults after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.

Eight out of 10 buildings along the San Fernando fault suffered moderate to severe damage.

To enforce the law, construction prohibited on land that sits on top of the fault rupture line and generally within 50 feet of it.

"Without funding the California Geological Survey to complete the mapping, you can't follow the law," U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said, the newspaper reported.

The state geologist's budget was $9.1 million in 2001 compared to $2.9 million for the current fiscal year.

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