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More earthquake mapping needed, LA-area state senator says

Ara's Pastry located at Hollywood Boulevard and Kenmore, is damaged in the Northridge earthquake.
Cary Moore/Los Angeles Public Library
Ara's Pastry, located at Hollywood Boulevard and Kenmore, was damaged in the Northridge earthquake.

State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is calling for more funding to map dangerous earthquake faults in California.

This week Lieu sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg asking for help in restoring funds to the California Geological Survey, the state agency tasked with mapping earthquake faults.

“We need to immediately increase funding to map all the fault lines across California so that local officials and developers can comply with state law,” Lieu said.

The law he cites is the Alquist-Priolo Act passed in 1972. It requires the state to map the areas around active faults. It also mandates that any development project in a mapped area must test to make sure it is least 50 feet away from the fault.

Lieu said he was surprised to learn that developers in Hollywood and Santa Monica were able to put up new buildings on or near active faults simply because such maps hadn't been completed.

In his letter to Steinberg, Lieu said this was "not acceptable."

Lieu told KPCC he plans to review how cities in his district go about approving projects near known faults.

The California Geological Survey is responsible for creating fault maps and has finished 554 of them since 1972.

However, a decade ago, when California faced a $30 billion budget deficit, state lawmakers cut the CGS’s general fund allocation to less than $4 million dollars, nearly half of what it was.

Since then, efforts to map faults have slowed to a crawl. CGS is currently completing one a year and still has an estimated 300 to go, according to state geologist John Parrish.

Lieu says now that California has a projected surplus of over $2 billion, it's time CGS' budget be restored.

"We can certainly take a very small portion of that surplus and increase funding to map and update all of the fault lines across California."

A representative for Steinberg says the senate president "looks forward to a detailed discussion on the issue with colleagues in the coming year."