Half of CUHSD’s schools have found themselves on the AB-300, a large record consisting of schools built before laws were strict on earthquake safety as well as architectural and structural integrity. Any school listed on AB-300 could be structurally unstable in the event of an earthquake. The district has a total of 30 buildings on this list: Branham and Westmont have only one each, Leigh has four, and Del Mar alone has 12. Being on the list doesn’t necessarily mean the buildings are guaranteed to fall in the event of an earthquake, however, according to the California Watch, “These buildings generally are more vulnerable because of their age, structural design, and location relative to active earthquake faults” so there is a major risk involved.
In terms of potential dangers, Westmont is within a quarter mile of a liquefaction zone (an area where soil may behave like a liquid if put under extreme stress and is some of the most dangerous areas to live in in the event of an earthquake) and Del Mar and Prospect High Schools are within the same distance from a fault line. The state of California also claims that approximately 78 percent of the buildings on the list were deemed “potentially hazardous and in need of a detailed structural evaluation.”
Now, schools are not required by law to do anything about these buildings. However the Department of State Architecture (DSA), suggests that if a school’s building on the AB-300 list, “a district wide survey of all campuses be conducted.” It’s obviously no joke. A recent poll conducted by the Bear Witness shows how much of a joke students really do think it is. It was found that 34 percent of students think earthquake drills aren’t taken seriously, with only six percent believing the opposite. So while students should be giving it their full effort, the extra sense of safety is not a bad thing.
However, 29 percent of students feel pretty safe here at Branham as far as earthquakes go. But the situation only worsens when you consider that California is behind schedule for a massive earthquake. According to a March CNN report, the “overdue California quake [is] greater than thought” and goes on to say that a double rupture or earthquake made by two fault lines simultaneously is very possible. Most of our architecture was made to withstand one fault but “not both at the same time.” In the very possible event that this large quake finally catches up with us, there’s no telling how our community would be affected. What we as a community have left to face are students who do not take these safety drills seriously, in addition to buildings which may not be up to the task in terms of major earthquakes. And seeing as how California is expecting an earthquake in the near future, we have quite a recipe for disaster. Fortunately for all of us, the solution is quite simple: students need to take drills more seriously and the district should have their buildings surveyed if we want our safety guaranteed.