Update on UC’s seismic safety initiative

I want to share an update on the University of California's multi-year seismic safety initiative. The system’s goal is to have all buildings meet UC's rigorous seismic safety standards by the end of 2030.

In 2017, the UC Board of Regents approved significant revisions to the UC Seismic Policy, which included forming a new systemwide Seismic Advisory Board. Made up of leading experts, the board issued new guidelines for assessing all UC buildings based on the latest scientific understanding of earthquakes and changes in the California building code.

The safety of our campus community is the highest priority for me and our campus leadership. This commitment is reflected in our continuous work to improve seismic safety on campus. In the past 12 years, our campus has spent more than $450 million to address our buildings' seismic needs. Recent projects include important improvements to the Student Union, Redwood Building, and Cardiff House. High-use buildings that have been seismically upgraded include Hahn Student Services, McHenry Library, the Cowell Dining Hall, the Cowell Student Health Center, and many more. 

UC Santa Cruz has about 600 buildings, both big and small, across all its locations that need to be evaluated. Of these, about 200 have already met the UC guidelines and do not require further evaluation because they were built or upgraded after 1998. To date, we have reviewed 89 buildings, and prioritized them in descending order of risk in consultation with structural engineering firms engaged by the campus. Thirty-five meet current standards and 54 require a more detailed review, potentially requiring retrofits or replacement.

We are in the midst of reviewing approximately 300 additional buildings, which we believe pose the lowest risk to our campus community. Those evaluations will be completed in summer 2020, and we will provide another update at that time.

Many of you are aware that there will be a general obligation bond on the March ballot. If approved, the $2 billion earmarked for UC would contribute to helping the system address its seismic priorities.

The buildings on the UC Santa Cruz campus most in need of seismic retrofit or replacement are Thimann Laboratories, the Jack Baskin Engineering Building, and Kerr Hall. We are actively working on plans to address these needs. More detailed reviews, which are currently underway, will help us determine what is best for each building.

The campus community can view the completed seismic studies online and read answers to frequently asked questions. The UCOP policy defines the seismic performance levels used in the building assessments.

More information about earthquake preparedness is also available online. 

Thank you for your continued partnership in ensuring UC Santa Cruz is a safe place to live, work, and learn.