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Trench dug at Hollywood site to look for possible earthquake fault

Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticePoliticsJustice SystemPublic Officials

The developer of a planned apartment complex  near Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street has hired geologists to dig underground to search whether an earthquake fault intersects the property. 

A trench study, considered by experts as the gold standard for fault-finding, is now underway at a site just east of the controversial Millennium Hollywood skyscraper project. 

draft map released last month by the California Geological Survey raised questions about whether the Hollywood fault crosses underneath the proposed apartment building at 6230 Yucca Street.  

INTERACTIVE MAP: Hollywood earthquake fault

State geologists said groundwater levels underneath the project site were found at various elevations. Geologists say such differences in groundwater generally suggest a fault is underneath the site.

David Jordon, owner of the Yucca Street project, emphasized that the state map is still a draft, and said that he has been working with the city to determine the scope of his study. 

“We have done all of the things we have been asked to by the city,” Jordon said. City officials have already looked at the trench work, and a team of experts is working on the geologic and seismic analysis of the site to comply with state laws and city requirements, he added. 

“We want to make sure that we’re building something that’s safe. We remain confident that we have a great project as part of the Hollywood resurgence,” Jordon said.

The new study is expected to take a few weeks, and once completed, the report will be reviewed by the city, Jordon said.

When Jordon in 2005 bought the former site of the KFWB radio studios, he said he was unaware of the potential dangers of the fault. Los Angeles planning officials in 2008 approved his plans without requiring seismic studies. The project, known then as the Yucca Street Condominium Project, called for nearly 14,000 square feet of office space and 95 condo units. 

Construction was put on hold because of the recession, Jordon said. Ready to build again, he applied in 2012 to change the condo project to apartments. It was only after homeowners in 2013 challenged the project, that Jordon became aware of the potential dangers of the Hollywood fault.

The new draft state maps also show the fault going underneath the Millennium project as well as the prominent Blvd6200 development.

"We feel very confident about where we drew that line, within maybe a 50-foot accuracy back and forth. But we're very confident it's there," state geologist John Parrish told reporters at a downtown Los Angeles news conference last month. "Surface rupture is very dangerous. In fact, it's calamitous to structures that are built across of the surface trace of an active fault."

State geology officials expect to publish a final quake fault map by July 8. The California Geological Survey is taking public comment on the proposed zone through April, and will hold a public hearing.

Millennium Hollywood has agreed to dig a trench at the request of city officials, but last year a spokesman for the developer said the project was on hold until lawsuits challenging the city’s approval of the skyscraper project were resolved

The state maps chart the course of the Hollywood fault, which runs from Atwater Village and Los Feliz, through central Hollywood and west along the Sunset Strip.

The state accelerated completion of the maps last fall amid controversy over the Los Angeles City Council's approval of the Millennium project on or near the fault.

The maps create a zone of generally 500 feet on both sides of the fault. State law requires new development within the zone to receive extensive underground seismic testing to determine whether the fault runs under it. The law prohibits building on top of faults.

The rules will restrict future development in two fast-growing areas: Hollywood north of Hollywood Boulevard and West Hollywood along Sunset Boulevard. Both areas have seen a surge in new development in the last decade, with more projects planned. 

ALSO:

Tower project exposes gaps in L.A.'s oversight

INTERACTIVE MAP: Hollywood earthquake fault

New state fault maps show higher earthquake risks in Hollywood

Twitter: @RosannaXia | @ronlin

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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