State Geologist Says Millennium Hollywood Project Sits Atop Fault Line

State Geologist John Parrish says moving forward on the project would violate the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Act.

By City News Service

The California Geological Survey released a preliminary map Wednesday showing the site of a major skyscraper project in Hollywood straddling an active earthquake fault.

Under the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Act, "construction of certain structures for human occupancy" over traces of an active earthquake fault is prohibited, State Geologist John Parrish told reporters.

"It stands to reason that where an earthquake fault has ruptured the land surface in the past, it will do so again in a future large earthquake," he said. "It's nearly impossible to avoid building near an earthquake fault in the Los Angeles area, but making sure the footprint of buildings isn't directly atop those surface faults can save lives, property and money."

The map was highly anticipated by Stopthemillenniumhollywood.org, a group that for months has alleged that the multimillion-dollar Millennium Hollywood skyscraper project in Hollywood sits atop cracks that are part of the Hollywood Fault.

The group has sued to stop the project -- approved last year by the City Council -- from moving forward. The project calls for 35- and 39-story towers to be built on Vine Street, next to the iconic Capitol Records building.

In the preliminary map, which must undergo a 90-day public comment period, state geologists plotted the path of the Hollywood Fault along the Hollywood Hills. Markings on the map appear to show the Millennium Hollywood project site atop the fault traces.

Red lines on the map, representing cracks in the ground that make up the Hollywood Fault, "do cross the Millennium Hollywood project sites," Parrish told City News Service.

A fault trace lies under the Capitol Records building, but also on either either side of it, where the Millennium Hollywood project is planned, he said.

Parrish said the study to produce the Hollywood Fault map had been pushed up to "provide the city with the most current information available."

"There has been a great deal of concern in the Hollywood area that portions of a major new construction site may overlie traces of the Hollywood Fault," he said.

The attorney for the group opposing the project said the map "confirms what my clients have been saying -- that the Hollywood earthquake fault runs right through the Millennium Hollywood project."

Robert Silverstein said he believes the map's release would scuttle current plans by the developer, New York-based Millennium Partners.

"Maybe they can squeeze a much smaller building somewhere on this property, if at all," he said. "But it is improbable that anything like the giant twin skyscrapers the City Council approved can be built."

But Philip Aarons, a partner of the develop company, Millennium Partners, said the map changes nothing.

City officials "long suspected that the Hollywood Fault could be located in the vicinity of our site" and had asked the developer to perform geological studies and tests, Aarons said. "Those studies and tests were performed and showed no evidence of an active fault on the property."

Parrish said from what he has seen, the developer's studies do not appear to "pinpoint the exact location of fault traces on the property."

Developers can build as close to a fault as city officials allow, as long as it's not over the fault, he said.

"The law is they have to clearly demonstrate the location of the fault or clearly demonstrate that there is no fault there," Parrish said.

The developer typically needs to dig a "long trench so we can see in profile what an existing fault looks like and where they're located," he said. "If they did something less than that, then there will always be questions of whether they adequately studied where the faults are."

City leaders who support the project said the map's release merely confirmed what they already knew.

"Today we learned that Hollywood is open for business," said City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who represents the Hollywood area.

The map reveals that "a fault line runs along the Hollywood Hills, trace lines might extend into the business district and that any project proposed near these areas must conduct extensive testing to determine the exact location of a trace line in relation to the proposed construction," he said.

O'Farrell said the city will incorporate the map into its city mapping system, Navigate LA.

Opponents of the project contend available information about the Hollywood Fault was not factored into the project's environmental impact report, a document that looks at how a project would affect the surrounding community, and that geological studies were only done after the community raised concerns about the project's earthquake risks.

bill miller January 09, 2014 at 03:37 PM
"Today we know Hollywood is open for business' This statement was on the heels of Dr. Parrish's warnings and statements regarding the unsafe building site and even the TV News reporter was confused by his response. What IS he smoking? O'Farrell is delusional..The 'spin' now is all is well, they all knew about this and were just waiting for the updated maps and the projects were always dealt with AS IF they were on or near the active fault line Maybe Mitch forgets his statement to The Beverly Press.. “I think we’re going to be in really good shape there,” he said. “There’s no evidence anywhere that suggests that a fault line runs directly under where the buildings will be constructed. That’s just not true. We all know there’s a fault line in Hollywood, but this city is filled with fault lines. "…The opponents took an opinion based on an initial study for a tract map approval, which wasn’t even the typical investigation that is coming in relation to the building code that I mentioned. …In my view, they took the initial tract map evaluation out of context and then formulated an opposition based on that. It’s just an opinion that they took.” JUST AN OPINION..ey?? Trying to follow O'Farrell train of thought(does he actually have a thought of his own?) ..is impossible to keep up with.. all his contradictions and outright lies And THIS got city council to vote unanimously to approve the projects HE deemed 'safe' Ofcourse with Garcetti pulling the strings. Both campaigns funded by Millennium. Confirming that he is nothing but a Garcetti puppet, in over his head, and puppets are even more dangerous than their dangerous masters.. What a lieing piece of work he is. Yes, they all knew. Yes they were wiling to risk all our lives. Yes, they thought no one would notice. This is Hollywood where no one reads or pays attention. No one votes or cares. Aarons threw money at all of them and city departments for over six years to get his projects approved. Nobody was going to stop them due to active fault lines. Aarons is still arrogantly declaring new map findings mean nothing .. Are they still going to all thumb their collective long noses at the state recommendations? Will they still proceed and build there? Beware! Federal investigation and RECALLS!
Scott Zwartz January 09, 2014 at 03:44 PM
O'Farrell says that Hollywood is "open for business" -- "Open" is right! "Open" like a huge gaping hole to hell. Remember the golden calf scene in deMille's Ten Commandments where the idolators feel to their doom ? -- Yeah, Hollywood is "open." Really, are these guys so foolish as to think anyone will move into these high rise death traps? If this is the way O'Farrell behaves and it obviously is how he behaves, those who have been agitating for a recall election have a good point. If O-Farrel will sell out Hollywoodians on a proven danger, there is nothing O'Farrell won't do. The sooner O'Farrell is gone, the safer Hollywood will be.
emma January 10, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Never in all my 35 years living in L.A. have I seen elected officials show such arrogance and disregard for the people that are paying their salaries and put them in office. Garcetti and O'Farrell 's utter lack of caring for the thousands upon thousands and all 'at risk' communities all opposed to and concerned about the dangerous Millennium projects warrants recalls. I have never seen any elected officials play Russian Roulette with lives like this for a NYC developer who they sold our city and their souls to. They both should be ashamed. Eric Garcetti is a coward. He has not said one word about this controversy on projects he pushed through at every level. He has been hiding out ..operating in secrecy behind closed doors...getting Promise Money from the Government..The big hero..Money that will go into East Hollywood where his boss, Phil Aarons Hollywood Cap Park is, that he already got city council to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars of our money for. Curren Price and Bernard Parks, complaining now that their areas have been left out? Needier areas?? Were they even kept in the dark? If Millennium's Cap Park was in their needier areas, they would have been receiving Government Promise Money..Sorry..Wake up guys! Wake up L.A.! Garcetti and O'Farrell must be fired!
William Bergmann January 10, 2014 at 02:13 PM
All the name calling is absurd. This project is no different than any other large development and the facts will determine what can and cannot be built. Scientist disagree all the time and the state geologist can be wrong. A serious analysis of the actual site by digging a channel seems in order. Anyways, I live right over the map line for the fault and my house is not even bolted to the foundation. Ke sera sera.
Scott Zwartz January 11, 2014 at 03:12 PM
You science is a bad as your Spanish.


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