State Map Puts Quake Fault Beneath Proposed Millennium Hollywood Skyscraper

Friday, November 07, 2014
Millennium Hollywood (illustration: Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures)

California officials wrapped yellow warning tape around Los Angeles plans for dense development of skyscrapers in Hollywood when they released an official map Thursday showing an earthquake fault running beneath the proposed Millennium project.

The map, from the California Geological Survey in the state Department of Conservation, is a follow-up to a draft map of the Hollywood fault released in January that shocked city officials and developers―of what would be the storied area’s tallest development in history―by estimating it lay directly in the fault’s path.

The developer immediately hired his own engineers to trench the site, and their conclusion was that the fault should be removed from the map. At stake is a $1 billion project with 35-story and 39-story twin towers, with housing, stores, restaurants and hotel rooms.     

The city council unanimously approved Millennium Hollywood in July 2013, after being warned that the state was beginning a detailed study of the fault and was likely to find something onerous at the site. The project, which is enthusiastically supported by Mayor Eric Garcetti, has encountered stiff opposition in the community from people who want to maintain the area’s historical character and preserve its architecture.

Garcetti opposed the project, which abuts the iconic Capitol Records building, when developers initially proposed a 55-story building.

State officials said they analyzed data from Michael Reader, the developer’s consultant, in addition to other soil samples, sonar tests and their own research and concluded that the Hollywood fault ran under one of the towers at the south end of the property.

The fault zone is about 6.5 miles long and 1,000 feet wide, between the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood and Atwater Village to the east. Its existence and general contours have been known for years, but a Los Angeles Times story last December found the city used outdated, inaccurate maps to approve dozens of building projects above it. Many are still on the drawing board.

The state recently allocated extra money for earthquake fault mapping after it became known that the meager squad of six people doing the work would be reduced to one next year for budgetary reasons. Around 5,000 miles have been mapped, but 2,000 more miles, from L.A. to the Bay Area, remain uncharted.

Although state law bars building directly on top of a fault, the city building department has the authority to issue permits if it deems the site safe. A spokesman told the Times that planners were still waiting to see the data gathered by Reader. “If an active fault is found, physically, not just theoretically, they’re going to have to deal with it,” L.A. building department spokesman Luke Zamperini told the newspaper.

 –Ken Broder


To Learn More:

State Says Active Hollywood Quake Fault Runs under Millennium and Other Choice Land: Map (by Jill Stewart and David Futch, LA Weekly)

Massive Hollywood Project Sits Atop Quake Fault, California Says (by Rong-Gong Lin II and Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times)

New Hollywood Fault Map Puts Projects and Buildings in a Quake Zone (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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