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Earthquake Fault Zone

EARTHQUAKE FAULT ZONE

A Brief Explanation

CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RESOURCES CODE, Section 2621.9

California law requires a seller (if acting without an agent) or the seller's agent to disclose to a prospective transferee of real property if the property is located within a delineated Earthquake Fault Zone provided that official maps prepared by the California State Geologist, or the information contained in the maps, are "reasonably available." Disclosure must be made if:

  • a seller (if acting without an agent) or the seller's agent has "actual knowledge" (Public Resources Code Section 2621.9(c)(1)) that the property is located within a delineated earthquake fault zone, OR

  • the maps or the information contained in the maps are deemed "reasonably available" if a map prepared by the California State Geologist pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 2622 that includes the property has been provided to the city or county, and a notice has been posted at the offices of the county recorder, county assessor, and county planning agency that identifies the location of the map, the effective date of the notice, and any information regarding changes to the map received by the county.

BACKGROUND:

The Alquist-Priolo Special Studies Zones Act of 1972, renamed the "Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act" in 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the "A-P Act", regulates development and construction of buildings intended for human occupancy so as to mitigate hazards associated with fault rupture and/or fault creep.

The A-P Act resulted in the establishment of Earthquake Fault Zones that span the "surface traces" of delineated active faults. A surface trace is the mapped location of a fault based on surface and/or subsurface geologic information. Residential structures that lie atop the surface trace of an active fault can be damaged or destroyed by "surface faultrupture", where quarter mile in width (i.e, the "typical" zone boundaries are set back approximately 660 feet on either side of the fault trace). Pursuant to the A-P Act, the State Mining and Geology Board has classified faults either (a) "Active" (those faults having surface displacement within about the last 11,000 years), or (b) "Potentially Active" (those faults having surface displacement during the last 1.6 million years).

  • The A-P Act applies to new or renewed construction and development projects, including all divisions of land as well as most structures intended for human occupancy. Certain types of structures and developments are excluded. The exclusion does not excuse or limit disclosure obligations.

  • The A-P Act does not prevent cities and counties from establishing policies and criteria which are stricter than those established by the State of California. Local Agencies may develop and enforce stricter standards, charge extra fees related to these standards, or disallow exemptions otherwise permitted by the State of California (Public Resources Code, Section 2624).

  • A property that lies partially or entirely within a designated Earthquake Fault Zone may be subject to requirements for site-specific geologic studies before any new or additional construction may take place. If an active fault is found on a property, structures generally will not be allowed to be constructed within 50 feet of the fault trace.

PLEASE NOTE:
  • Information portrayed on Earthquake Fault Zone maps is not a sufficient substitute for geologic and geotechnical site investigations under the A-P Act.

  • Earthquake Fault Zone maps pursuant to the A-P Act only depict known active fault zones. Because a property located outside a mapped Earthquake Fault Zone may still be subject to the effect of earthquakes, property owners are encouraged to take appropriate safety and retrofitting measures to minimize potential damage.

Earthquake Fault Zone maps pursuant to the A-P Act only depict known active fault zones. Because a property located outside a mapped Earthquake Fault Zone may still be subject to the effect of earthquakes, property owners are encouraged to take appropriate safety and retrofitting measures to minimize potential damage.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

For more information, please contact the California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology in Sacramento, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or via the world wide web at http://www.consrv.ca.gov/dmg/index.html.

Earthquake Fault Zone maps may be reviewed at local public works, planning or building departments.

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