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Franklin Elementary on State List of Schools Needing Seismic Review

The list was compiled in 2002. Officials say the proper work has been done, but the listing has not been removed.

Nearly nine years after a state-mandated list of schools in need of seismic upgrade was compiled by state officials, most of the schools remain on that list, including Altadena's .

Schools with unresolved AB 300 issues may not perform well in the event of a major earthquake and could pose a hazard to occupants of the buildings in question.  Franklin is listed as the state as "generally would do well in an earthquake," but is listed as needed a seismic review or retrofit.

The study of schools needing seismic upgrade was compiled under legislation (AB 300) that was passed in 1999, which mandated that the Division of the State Architect prepare the list.  The agency found about 7,500 schools needing upgrades.

A 19-month California Watch investigation, which was released Thursday, uncovered holes in the state's enforcement of seismic safety regulations for public schools.

California began regulating school architecture for seismic safety in 1933 with the Field Act, but data taken from the Division of the State Architect’s Office shows 20,000 school projects statewide never got final safety certifications. In the crunch to get schools built within the last few decades, state architects have been lax on enforcement, California Watch reported.

A separate inventory completed nine years ago found 7,500 seismically risky school buildings in the state. Yet, California Watch reports that only two schools have been able to access a $200 million fund for upgrades.

In Altadena, Franklin Elementary is the one school still on the list. At the request of Altadena Patch, Pasadena Unified officials are checking into why it remains on the list.

David Azcárraga, the Chief Facilities Officer for the district, said that he believes the necessary seismic upgrades were done in the early 2000s with money from the Measure Y bond initiative that was passed in 1997.

He said he did not know offhand who the architect was and could not immediately provide documentation of the work,  but said he would be able to track it down, given some time. 

Franklin is the only school in Altadena on the AB 300 list, though four others (, , , ) are considered seismic hazards because they are within one-quarter of a mile of a fault line.

The California Watch project also found that:

  • More than 1,000 schools have been on a state's list of officials' highest safety concerns, but students and teachers have continued to occupy them anyway.
  • Those schools are among nearly 20,000 projects the state architect allowed to open without a safety certification required under the Field Act, enacted nearly 80 years ago
  • Some state officials responsible for certifying the schools became dues-paying members of a construction firm lobbying organization representing contractors the officials were tasked with regulating.
  • One state architect ordered about 1,000 safety warnings downgraded to simple paperwork errors without requiring regulators to visit the projects in question.

A full interactive map produced by California Watch that allows users to look up any school district in the state to see the status of their schools can be located here.

We will update this story with further information from the district when available.

This story was produced using data provided to Patch by California Watch, the state's largest investigative reporting team and part of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Read more about with California Watch.

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