WILSHIRE BLVD — You don’t need to fear being swallowed up by the Earth next time you’re choosing between various organic sauerkrauts.

Officials say that they recently got their hands on proof that the Whole Foods Market on Wilshire Boulevard was not built on a fault line.

Last week, a Los Angeles Times article identified four Santa Monica properties, including the Whole Foods, that the newspaper believed to be built on a fault line.

The other three buildings — the addresses of which are not mentioned in the article — underwent soil and geological testing before they were built, Building Officer Ron Takiguchi said. Independent geologists, hired by developers, looked at the testing and determined that they were not on top of faults, Takiguchi said. City engineers and building inspectors also looked at the results and agreed, he said.

When geologists studied the Whole Foods plot, they required digging to be performed to determine if the faults were in fact located on site. This process, called trenching, did occur, Takiguchi said.

It took some time for city officials to track down the proof but they found it, he said. GeoConcepts Inc. a Los Angeles-based engineering firm told city officials that they trenched the property before it was built in 2003 and found that the fault was not located on the site, Takiguchi said.

GeoConcepts could not be reached by press time but Takiguchi said the company is in the process of providing written proof that the site was deemed safe more than a decade ago.

Both Takiguchi and Planning Director David Martin said that they are confident — based on the soil testing and the trenching that occurred on the Whole Foods property — that none of the four buildings are located on top of a fault line. They are built about 200 to 500 feet from the fault line, city officials said.

The Santa Monica fault, specifically, has not yet been mapped by the California Geological Survey (CGS). A statewide map identifies fault lines but is too broad to be used for regulatory purposes. This year, CGS geologists plan to draw a detailed map of the Santa Monica fault, creating a zone in which greater regulation will be required by the state.

Developers hoping to build anywhere within the fault zones will be required by the state to hire independent contractors to study the land and determine if a fault line exists there. Developers will not be allowed to build on top of a fault line.

Since 1995, despite the absence of the CGS map, City Hall has required all of the tests that the state will require when the map is complete, Takiguchi said.

“Although the official map from the state today doesn’t treat the Santa Monica fault as active, we take the higher road and we treat it as active,” he said.

Fault lines came up during the Planning Commission’s discussion of the Hines project, slated for the corner of 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard.

Some residents and commissioners expressed concern that the massive proposed project would be built on top of an active fault.

If the 737,000-square-foot project is approved by City Council, Hines will have to perform soils testing, planning officials said. And if the testing shows that plot of land sits on top of a fault line, the project can’t be built.

 

dave@smdp.com