California Coastal Commission Accepts Advice from ASCE on Earthquake Design Controversy

by Samuel H. Clark, (M.ASCE), Pres.; San Francisco Section, Civ. Engr., Woodward-Clyde Consultants, San Francisco, Calif.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1976, Vol. 46, Issue 5, Pg. 85-87

Document Type: Feature article


A case history is described of an ASCE section (San Francisco) causing a public agency to change its position with respect to earthquake design criteria. The California Central Regional Coastal Commission adopted an unrealistically severe earthquake design requirement for a shopping center in Seaside, California. The requirement — to resist 2/3g lateral acceleration — was an unacceptable misinterpretation of some geologic data, and was protested by several professional groups. If such a requirement were literally enforced, unnecessary additional expense of 30% to 40% could have been incurred with no guarantee of greater earthquake safety. The San Francisco Section organized an Ad-Hoc committee of representatives of four professional groups, and the committee was able to convince the Commission to use the Uniform Building Code earthquake design provisions rather than to establish their own criteria.

Subject Headings: Coastal environment | Earthquakes | Seismic design | Case studies | Shopping centers | Geology | Safety | Building codes

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