LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Measure D would make schools safe from collapse
The $300 Million secondary schools bond measure on tomorrow's ballot,
Measure D, will, among other things, make it possible to make the
secondary schools of the district safe from collapse in the next big
earthquake on the northern Hayward fault.
Absent retrofitting or replacement of these dozen-plus schools, when
that next quake comes to our fault (which is due any time now, since
the last one was between 1600 and 1776), pancake collapse of these
multi-story, non-ductile concrete structures is highly probable. The
annual risk of the event is currently estimated at 0.52%, or one in
190, plus another half percent for a quake on the southern segment of
the Hayward Fault.
Pancake collapse kills nearly everyone in such buildings. Each
school day we are playing Russian roulette with the lives of 12,000
children, their teachers, and the staff. Berkeley and Albany have
already dealt with the threat. UC Berkeley is dealing with it.
Hayward and Fremont have dealt with it. Alameda is dealing with it.
It's just Oakland and we who haven't gotten ready for the impending
killer quake(s) on the Hayward Fault. I believe that our district
has the highest risk of death per student from earthquake of any
school district in the entire United States, because of its location
and the age and character of its buildings.
The U.S.G.S. and others have given us a rare and precious gift -- a
glimpse into our future that foretells, with complete certainty, of a
magnitude 6.7 to 7.3 quake, running basically dead center through our
school district, thus giving us the chance to avoid disaster.
Engineers learned long ago that buildings such as our secondary
school buildings fail when subjected to such strong shaking, and the
building code has been changed, most significantly in 1974, so as to
prevent collapse. We know this terrible hazard exists, and tomorrow
we have a chance to put it to rest, by passing Measure D.
Our elementary schools are far safer, because, unlike our secondary
schools, only two of them are old, concrete structures, and they will
be made safe by the Measure M money that was already approved.
Without Measure D, we can't begin to make our secondary schools safe
to simply be in. I calculate that one school day at Portola, for
example, is as dangerous as ten flights on a major U.S. airline.
Please tell your friends and neighbors to vote for Measure D
tomorrow, Tuesday, March 5, 2002! It will even be good for property
Thank you very much,
Joseph Holmes (district parent)
P.S.: More detailed information about Measure D can be found at:
The seismic issues are very well-addressed by the spending plan, but
they are not featured as a prominent reason for passing the measure.
I believe they are the most compelling reason for passing Measure D.
Run dates: 2002-03-04 - 2002-03-05