Published : Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | 4:10 PM
A preliminary report on tests to re-examine the age of the faults that pass under the Pasadena Unified School District’s (PUSD) San Rafael Elementary School indicate that there is no evidence of active faults. The full report is expected in late September or early October.
“The Board of Education will receive a briefing on the preliminary report at their September 24, 2015 meeting, however, no action on the site or the report findings is expected to be taken at this time,” said Mercy Santoro, PUSD Associate Superintendent of School Support Services.
According to Santoro, in 2012 an extensive fault rupture investigation was conducted at the San Rafael School site in preparation for modernization projects under the Measure TT facilities bond. As part of the initial testing, what appeared to be four active earthquake faults were found on the school property, with an approximately 90 percent probability for each one existing and being active (exhibiting evidence of seismic activity at some point within the past 11,700 years). With this discovery, the Board of Education was provided information that the Division of State Architect would not allow or approve plans to move forward with any modernization or upgrades on any school facility that was within 50 feet of any earthquake faults. It is important to note that public school sites must meet Field Act standards which are more stringent for K-12 public schools than for any other buildings, including homes and businesses. Based on these findings, the Board moved to surplus the property.
Subsequent to the Board’s action to surplus the school site, additional information was provided that other testing methods, similar to those used by the City of Pasadena to evaluate possible faults near Fire Station 39, should be used. No faults were found near Fire Station 39 which is in close proximity to San Rafael Elementary.
In May 2015, the PUSD Board of Education approved testing to re-examine the seismic faults under San Rafael, acting upon the primary recommendation from the 7-11 Surplus Property Advisory Committee that was convened in 2014. The committee recognized the strong desire in the community to maintain a school on the San Rafael campus, and recommended the continuation of seismic investigation to determine if the identified faults or anomalies were active or not. To complete the validation of active faults on the school site, trenching was done on the campus during summer 2015.
The preliminary report issued by Earth Systems of Southern California Sept. 11 indicates active faults are not present within the depth and location explored at San Rafael Elementary School, stated Santoro. The potential for surface fault rupture at the site during the design life of the existing structures is considered to be very low. The effects of ground shaking in the event of a large earthquake or a nearby earthquake can be mitigated by proper engineering design and construction in conformance with current building codes and engineering practices.
“The district plans a school and community meeting in the next few weeks once the full report is available,” said Santoro. “The report will be presented at the regular Board of Education meeting scheduled October 22, and formal action to remove the school site from the surplus list expected to be taken.”
“This is obviously great news for the San Rafael School community,” said Scott Phelps, the PUSD Board of Education member who represents the area. “It is the result of a strong, dedicated school community and effective leadership by district staff.”
Review the San Rafael Fault Rupture Hazard Investigation Project Preliminary Report.