The Santa Monica City Council unanimously supported Tuesday night a request by Council member Kevin McKeown to urge state lawmakers to fund the timely completion of a schedule mapping of the Santa Monica Fault.
According to the council’s agenda, McKeown’s request was made in the interest of public safety and greater certainty on upcoming development issues.
More specifically, the urgency to map the Santa Monica Fault comes in light of recent news reports of various Santa Monica developments, whether existing, proposed, or approved to be built, might be sitting atop fault lines.
“I won’t even bother to tell you why it’s important to find out where the earthquake faults are in Santa Monica,” McKeown told his colleagues. “I think you can figure that one out.”
Beyond the recent reports of local developments potentially sitting atop at least one earthquake fault in Santa Monica, it was also discovered a proposed Millennium Hotel skyscraper project to be erected by Capitol Records in Hollywood was to be built directly above a fault line.
The State of California released a new geological map Jan. 8, showing a few projects in Hollywood were closer to an active fault than previously realized by Los Angeles’ city officials and engineers. In addition to the proposed Millennium Hollywood project, a Los Angeles Times investigation found more than one dozen projects were approved to be built along where the Hollywood or Santa Monica Fault exists.
The investigation also found those dozen-plus projects were approve without the proper due diligence to find the exact location of the fault’s fissures.
One of those approved projects is already under construction on Hollywood Boulvard: Blvd6200, a $200 million development.
During the Jan. 14 council meeting, McKeown said Gov. Jerry Brown announced funding to map the Santa Monica Fault was included in his proposed budget, but the line item still has to survive the state legislature.
“The day after I put this on our council agenda, our governor announced a budget in which he wants to fund exactly the work I am asking for here,” McKeown said.”I know we have the support both of our State Senator Ted Lieu and our Assembly member Richard Bloom. This still needs to be passed as part of the budget by the entire state legislature. This will allow for our lobbying firm in Sacramento to work on our behalf and make sure this gets the necessary votes.”
Developments are prohibited from building on top of a fault, according to State law. Also under State law, developers who plan to build within 500 feet of a fault line must conduct far-reaching studies to determine quake impacts and demonstrate public safety before gaining approval.
However, since State officials did not provide specific fault zones for communities in Hollywood and Santa Monica, both the locale and the city were exempt from following California law.
With new fault zones and geological maps, Santa Monica developments might soon have another hurdle to clear before gaining council approval.