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L.A. Now Live: Hollywood skyscraper site may sit on active fault

L.A. Now Live: Hollywood skyscraper site may sit on active fault
An escarpment -- a steep slope -- that is evidence of a fault can be seen north of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue near the proposed Millennium Hollywood site. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

California's state geologist has declared that the Hollywood earthquake fault is active and may run directly underneath a skyscraper project approved by the Los Angeles City Council last week.

Join us at 9 a.m. when we talk with Times reporters Ron Lin and Rosanna Xia about the assertion, which raises new doubts about whether the 1-million-square-foot Millennium Hollywood project — which would create two of Hollywood's tallest towers — should go forward without significantly more seismic safety testing than the city has required.

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Although the Hollywood fault has been known for several decades, geologists have never mapped its precise route on a block-by-block level. Steep slopes formed by old fault ruptures are visible from the street on both sides of the project location, where developers want to erect 39- and 35-story towers.

Several geologists interviewed by The Times have urged more extensive testing, such as digging dozens of bore holes or a trench, to determine exactly where the fault lies. If an earthquake fault is found underneath the Millennium towers, it could force a revision of architectural plans or scuttle the project.

California law bars construction of new buildings within 50 feet of an earthquake fault declared active and mapped by state officials. A building over a fault can be ripped in half during an earthquake.

Brian Lewis, a spokesman for the New York-based developer, said geologists did testing at the city's direction and found no evidence of a fault at the site. But he added: "We're happy to do more testing, and we fully intend to do more testing. We have no interest in building anything that would be unsafe."

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