March 11th marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and killed more than 15,000 people. That is a reminder of just how dangerous an earthquake can be.
California has more than 15,000 fault lines and experiences more than 37,000 earthquakes, on average, each year. One of the state's most notorious and potentially dangerous fault lines, the Hayward Fault, runs through the East Bay's most populated cities, including San Jose, Fremont, Castro Valley, Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland and Berkeley.
I am especially concerned about the safety of our schools.
That's why I have introduced Senate Bill 1271, which follows up on a December 2011 state audit that found there are significant gaps in the state's oversight of school construction and seismic safety projects, and that the Division of the State Architect has been inconsistent and ineffective in enforcing the Field Act.
The California Field Act mandates seismic safety standards for the design, construction and renovation of all K-12 public school and community college buildings in the state. The state Legislature passed the Field Act within 30 days of a disastrous 1933 earthquake in Long Beach that destroyed or made unusable 230 school buildings in Southern California.
We must do everything necessary to protect California's school children and ensure they spend their days in seismically safe facilities. This bill establishes a process for a top-to-bottom review to make sure we fully understand what has gone wrong with state oversight and how to correct it.
SB 1271 establishes a task force to analyze the findings of the audit, set standards and best practices to improve the state architect's operation and consider changes in the law to better protect school children from earthquakes.
As chair of the Senate Select Committee on Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery, I am committed to making sure the state is doing its job.
As always, I welcome your feedback and look forward to representing you in the California State Senate.
Ellen M. Corbett
Senate Majority Leader