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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ECHS hasn't been identified as most seismically vulnerable

Dear Editor:

I take grave issue with the statement made below that was included in a recent posting titled, "ECHS, Before the Wrecking Ball...." El Cerrito High School has never been identified as the most seismically vulnerable school site in the district. In fact, since the district never did, "state of the art" engineering studies on any of its schools, we, to this day do not know what are actually the most seismically vulnerable school sites in this district.

The district did release the results of an engineering study done recently (results released around March 31st of this year). This study stated that engineers found previous evidence of slides at the Portola Middle School site. As a result, Bill Savidge said that costly stabilization will have to be done on the hillside behind Portola and the school will have to be redesigned.

There were people who were part of a committee, prior to the inception of the Bond program called the Disaster Planning Collaborative, who recommended that "state of the art" engineering studies be done on either 1) all the sites; 2) those designated as seismically most vulnerable. The number 2 option included 7 schools: Portola, Adams, Helms, Kennedy, ECHS, Lincoln and Downer.

The district rejected both the first option and the second option as too expensive. The studies were identified as costing about $25,000 each. Now, finally (apparently due to a new law) a study has been done at Portola, but instead of arousing action: ie getting the students and faculty out of the school because it has been deemed a slide hazard, the district is postponing the project. The statement below made by uninformed parents on the issue of seismic vulnerability is simply not true. ECHS has never been deemed the most seismically vulnerable school in the district. And, it has never been determined that the school could not be retrofitted and therefore saved. Mr. Savidge's remark, regarding the engineering study that was recently released to the public indicates in fact that that Portola is a school that will need to be redesigned, therefore rebuilt. So really the only verifiable information we have regarding seismic vulnerability to date regarding every school in the district is that Portola will have to be rebuilt and is at risk of landslide in an earthquake. If this same study is done at the other six sites then we would have some comparative information to begin to designate the seismically most vulnerable site or sites in the district.

Rebecca Hazlewood

"...Three years ago voters of West Contra Costa County approved one of the most ambitious school renovation/rebuilding programs in the State. Due to its proximity to the Hayward fault, building age, and nature of construction (non-ductile concrete), ECHS was identified as the most seismically vulnerable school in the school district. Consequently ECHS became the leading candidate for rebuilding ..."
Run dates: 2005-05-10 - 2005-05-24

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