Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

Are California schools ready for ‘the big one’?


If you’re interested in urban education or the built environment, you won’t want to miss this: the Bay Area news organization California Watch tonight is rolling out a 19-month investigation on seismic safety in public schools. The investigation paints “a disturbing picture of a system of oversight in disarray,” writes California Watch editorial director Mark Katches.

“Although fears of the ‘Big One’ are part of the psyche of every Californian, the state hasn’t felt a major earthquake in an urban area since the Northridge quake toppled freeways and killed dozens of people in Southern California in 1994,” Katches says. “Ominously, that may make us overdue.”

In response to California Watch’s reporting for the three-part series, which drew on public records, lawmakers, regulators and schools have begun looking anew at schools that may be at risk in an earthquake.

I was fortunate to work with Katches and Stanford classmates last quarter on another reporting project. With the earthquake series, “On Shaky Ground,” Katches says his team hopes to “help focus debate and lead to changes that can make California better prepared for the inevitable Big One.” They invite your feedback.

Update, April 8, 1 a.m.: The first part of the three-part series “On Shaky Ground” is up. Follow the story at californiawatch.org/earthquakes.

Photo: U.S. Geological Survey; California Watch/Creative Commons


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