UPDATED BELOW at 4:21 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2014: City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell says the new map fails to reflect claims by Millennium that it found no fault under its land.
The State of California shook Mayor Eric Garcetti, the L.A. City Council and Hollywood developers today, releasing a legally binding map of the Hollywood Earthquake Fault Zone which shows that the active “surface rupture” fault runs under the lower part of property for the proposed Millennium Towers skyscrapers. State law renders that part of the land unbuildable. It also shows Capitol Records does not have a fault running beneath it (see small red circle inside red T-shaped red parcel, top map). New York billionaires keen on building the twin towers may now try challenge the map or squeeze their skyscrapers between the nearly parallel “trace” faults (top image).
The map renders new development illegal along parts of Yucca Street, Franklin Avenue and other areas that Garcetti, the City Council and land speculators want to transform into a dense skyscraper area. Their plan to significantly alter Hollywood, with its hundreds of historic buildings, is opposed by many residents. The official fault also runs along the north side of swank Blvd6200, which likely would have been built further south had city planners and the City Council required a full seismic study.
According to Tim McCrink, a top official with the California Geological Survey and State Geologist's office, the state “moved the fault 100 feet south of Capitol Records” among other changes. Now, he says, “the fault still runs through portions of the Millennium land — it now runs through the lower one-third on the east side of Vine, and before it was running through the middle of that eastern portion.” On the Millennium project land west of Vine, the fault now runs through the lower tip of the property.
Jerry Treiman, a senior engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey, told L.A. Weekly that under state law buildings can be built to the edge of a fault but “usually, cities create a 50-foot buffer zone” to save lives in the event of a catastrophe.
Los Angeles, in contrast to cities with active faults such as Oakland, San Francisco and Signal Hill, has not been aggressive in requiring seismic studies in Hollywood, despite knowing for years about the active fault. The Los Angeles City Council, which has avidly supported a dense and much taller skyline in Hollywood, approved the Millennium project over the objections of State Geologist John Parrish, who warned them in a tersely-worded letter that a detailed mapping of the quake fault could easily prove Millennium was atop the fault.
McCrink says that when Millennium's owners finally conducted a private geological study — after putting the twin skyscrapers on hold amidst finger-pointing over whether the land was safe to build upon — “We used some of Millennium's stuff” to alter the official fault lines on the newly released map.
However, McCrink said, “the bore holes that they drilled on the project's west
east side they did not allow us to see,” and “the results west of Vine they did not release to us.”
He says that because the state does not know “where the building footprint will be, and we know only where the project's land is, we don't know where the fault trace line is in relationship” to where Millennium will seek to build its twin towers.
UPDATED AT 4:21 p.m. Nov. 6, 2014: City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who has openly criticized the Alquist-Priolo Act, a longstanding statewide law that is being closely followed by other cities to prevent catastrophic loss of life, issued a statement that appears to question the new State Geologist's map:
“I am relieved the State geologist has released a map that will help us move forward. Recent trenching at the proposed Millennium site shows there is no active fault, and there is clearly a disconnect between the data and the state's final map which must be reconciled. I welcome any additional tool that will help ensure even greater safety for new structures that are built,and I have every confidence the City's Department of Building & Safety will continue to impose the most rigorous seismic safety standards. It is in everyone's best interest for the Hollywood community to flourish safely in a manner worthy of its status as a world-class destination.”
In fact, despite O'Farrell's claim, it is not known what Millennium discovered during its private study of the earth beneath its land in Hollywood. Millennium Partners allowed state geologists onto the land during the trenching, but state officials tell the Weekly that Millennium has refused to release its bore-hole data east and west of Vine Street.
Moreover, as the Weekly has previously reported, the city's Department of Building and Safety has not imposed rigorous seismic safety standards as O'Farrell claims — Los Angeles is far behind other major cities in doing so.