Learn about SB 9 development in Earthquake Fault Zones.
California is famous the world over for its beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and...earthquakes. But in spite of all the seismic activity, people continue to move to the Golden State, and more housing must be built in order to accommodate everyone.
In the following blog post, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about earthquake zones and their impact on SB 9 development, including:
- What does SB 9 say about earthquake fault zones?
- Can I use SB 9 if my property is within an earthquake fault zone?
- How do I know if my property is in an earthquake fault zone?
- Is it safe to build in an earthquake fault zone?
What does SB 9 say about earthquake zones?
Senate Bill 9 was introduced to help ease California's housing crisis by adding smaller, more affordable housing units. In order to make sure the new developments are safe, the state law excludes certain sensitive geographical areas from eligibility.
Much like Very High Fire Severity Zones and Flood Zones, the text of Senate Bill 9 doesn’t directly reference earthquake fault zones. However, the bill states that properties are eligible for development as long as they are compliant with a particular section of California Government Code Title 7 on Planning and Land Use.
This code speaks to earthquake fault zones, indicating that development is not allowed “Within a delineated earthquake fault zone as determined by the State Geologist in any official maps published by the State Geologist, unless the development complies with applicable seismic protection building code standards adopted by the California Building Standards Commission under the California Building Standards Law ... of Division 1 of Title 2.”
Can I use SB 9 if my property is within an earthquake fault zone?
Yes, as long as the building adheres to certain seismic guidelines.
Contact your local planning department to learn about the building requirements required for earthquake fault or liquefaction zones in your area. These often include additional steel reinforcements and specific tests for masonry and wall anchors.
It’s possible that some cities might try to prohibit any SB 9 development in earthquake fault zones, but this would be in violation of the state law. As long as developments take the proper precautions to ensure seismic safety, properties within an earthquake fault zone that would otherwise be eligible for Senate Bill 9 should still be eligible.
How do I know if my property is in an earthquake fault zone?
Search your address in Homestead’s free SB 9 eligibility search tool to determine your property’s earthquake and liquefaction risk, as well as your overall SB 9 eligibility.
For more comprehensive information on fault lines near you, refer to the state’s Fault Activity Map.
Is it safe to build in an earthquake fault zone?
Because fault lines run beneath most of California, it’s difficult to avoid building on them. Rather than eschewing fault lines altogether, the best approach is to make sure that developments in earthquake-prone areas are safe and up to code.
In most cases, it’s actually much safer to live in a new construction than an older one. California’s building safety code is updated regularly to reflect the latest scientific knowledge and safety standards, so newer constructions are held to a higher seismic standard than older ones. Even older constructions that were once up to code can deteriorate as they age, decreasing the effectiveness of seismic protection.
In short, Senate Bill 9 development is allowed within earthquake and liquefaction zones, but special considerations must be made to ensure building safety. Increased seismic risk can make construction a bit more difficult and/or expensive, but it’s worth it to know that when The Big One hits, your home will be protected.
Want to develop your property under SB 9? Homestead’s team of experts can design and build a safe and beautiful home that can withstand even the shakiest ground.