The California Geological Study (CGS) has released its final earthquake fault map for Hollywood, which will create more work for Millennium Partners should they continue forward with plans for their large Hollywood development.
The new map outlines the Hollywood Fault zone, which overlaps portions of multiple projects in the city, including the proposed Millennium Hollywood project.
“Ensuring that the decision makers had the best, most up-to-date information about the Hollywood Fault’s location prompted us to investigate the site and create a zone,” said John Parrish, state geologist and head of the CGS.
The Millennium Hollywood project was approved by the city council in July 2013. It would be built on two sites on Vine Street just north of Hollywood Boulevard. The proposed project would have 492 residential units, 200 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of restaurant space, 40,000 square feet of sports club use and 15,000 feet of retail space. It would be built while preserving the Capitol Records building. The maximum height of the two towers would be 39 and 35 stories.
Just before the state report was released, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety approved a geological survey for the nearby 6230 Yucca Street property, the former site of the KFWB radio studio. The survey of that property found that there was no active fault underneath. A fault must have moved within the last 11,000 years to be considered active. The finalized CGS report takes that into account.
Developers of four adjacent properties, including 6230 Yucca and Millennium Hollywood, paid consultant Group Delta for their own independent reports.
Originally the state’s preliminary report showed the fault zone going directly through the Capitol Records property, the heart of Millennium Hollywood. Millennium submitted some data to the CGS before the finalized report, which did influence it, officials said.
“We did not find the fault [in the area they gave information on], but we have lots of information to the west and some to the east, and we really feel strongly that the fault lies [on parts of Millennium Hollywood], but we had to push it south,” said Tim McCrink, supervising engineering geologist for CGS. “We feel strongly it is there, but not in their trench, so it must be just south of their trench.”
Ultimately, state officials said, it will be up to the developers and their geologists to convene with city officials to determine if there is an active fault underneath the property. The state fault maps are guides, not the final word, McCrink said.
Department of Building and Safety chief inspector Luke Zamperini said he and his colleagues are still waiting for a detailed report on Millennium Hollywood, and until that happens, nobody can know for sure about the fault.
“The fault traces as shown [on the CGS map], they are estimates and educated guesses — not based on sub surface excavations,” Zamperini said. “There is nothing like trenching to put the issue to rest. Any and every development project in that area has to do the same thing [as the Yucca property], they have to conclusively show there is no active fault underneath their proposed building.
“The preliminary map had a fault going through the Yucca property, but the extensive trenching showed there was no active fault. That’s why I suspect they moved the [fault] traces to their present location.”
He added that the Millennium project appears to be in better shape with the new map than after the preliminary data was released.
“We appreciate the California Geological Survey’s work in mapping the Hollywood Fault and the ongoing discussion of seismic safety,” said Philip Aarons, founding partner of Millennium Partners, in a statement. “It is particularly gratifying that they acknowledge the area we trenched contains no active fault.
“We will continue to work with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety to safely construct our project as they will have the final say on whether our site is seismically safe for building. To that end, we are finalizing the geotechnical report documenting our subsurface trenching investigation and other additional new data that confirms there is no active fault on our site and will be submitting it very shortly to building and safety.
“We remain committed to investigating any concerns raised by the city regarding the subsurface conditions on our project site, including performing additional tests, so as to further validate the thorough and definitive picture of its subsurface conditions prior to applying for building permits. We are confident that any further testing will corroborate our previous investigations and further demonstrate our expert’s conclusions that no active fault exists on our site.”
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, weighed in optimistically.
“I am relieved the state geologist has released a map that will help us move forward,” he said. “Recent trenching at the proposed Millennium site shows there is no active fault, and there is clearly a disconnect between the data and the state’s final map which must be reconciled. I welcome any additional tool that will help ensure even greater safety for new structures that are built, and I have every confidence the city’s department of building and safety will continue to impose the most rigorous seismic safety standards. It is in everyone’s best interest for the Hollywood community to flourish safely in a manner worthy of its status as a world-class destination.”
In a letter to members, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler said it was good news that the report backed up the findings on the Yucca property, and he is looking forward to seeing what Millennium came up with.
“The drama may continue for a while, but in the end, this thorough analysis will result in a project designed to give the public confidence in its safety,” he said. “And that is something we should all welcome.”
The opposition, however, remains skeptical moving forward.
“From the comments of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and O’Farrell, it seems that they are still intent on pushing the project through,” said George Abrahams, who is a member of Stop the Millennium Hollywood Project and is leading the legal effort against the development. “It is a moral and ethical failing of O’Farrell and the [chamber] to be driven by the economics over public safety.”