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INTRODUCTION

The Natural Hazards Disclosure Act, effective June 1, 1998 (as amended June 9, 1998), requires that sellers of real property and their agents provide prospective buyers with a "Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement" when the property being sold lies within one or more state-mapped hazard areas, including a Seismic Hazard Zone.

This site answers the question "What is a Seismic Hazard Zone?" and provides a guide for determining if a property lies within a Seismic Hazard Zone.

INDEX

What is a Seismic Hazard Zone?

Seismic Hazard Zones are regulatory zones that encompass areas prone to liquefaction (failure of water-saturated soil) and earthquake-induced landslides. What does it mean to be located within a Seismic Hazard Zone? It means that the state has determined that there is likely that weak soil and/or rock may be present beneath the property. If present, these weak materials can fail during an earthquake and, unless proper precautions are taken during grading and construction, can cause damage to structures. If a property is undeveloped, a site-specific investigation by a licensed engineering geologist and/or civil engineer may be required before the parcel can be subdivided or before most structures can be permitted. If the property lies within a mapped Seismic Hazard Zone, that fact must be disclosed by the seller to prospective buyers.

How does the Act work?

The law requires the State Geologist to establish regulatory zones (Zones of Required Investigation) and to issue appropriate maps (Seismic Hazard Zone maps). These maps are distributed to all affected cities, counties, and state agencies for their use in planning and controlling construction and development. Single family frame dwellings up to two stories not part of a development of four or more units are exempt from the state requirements. However, local agencies can be more restrictive than state law requires.

Before a development permit can be issued or a subdivision approved, cities and counties must require a site-specific investigation to determine whether a significant hazard exists at the site and, if so, recommending measures to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. The investigation must be performed by state-licensed engineering geologists and/or civil engineers.

Information on Disclosure Requirements

Effective June 1, 1998, the Natural Hazards Disclosure Act, requires that sellers of real property and their agents provide prospective buyers with a "Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement" when the property being sold lies within one or more state-mapped hazard areas. If a property is located in a Seismic Hazard Zone as shown on a map issued by the State Geologist, the seller or the seller&quots agent must disclose this fact to a potential buyers. The law specifies two ways in which this disclosure can be made. One is to use the new Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement as provided in Section 1102.6c of the California Civil Code. The other way is to use the Local Option Real Estate Disclosure Statement as provided in Section 1102.6a of the California Civil Code. The Local Option Real Estate Disclosure Statement can be substituted for the Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement only if the Local Option Statement contains substantially the same information and substantially the same warning as does the Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement.

In addition to Seismic Hazard Zones, information shown on Official Maps of Earthquake Fault Zones and other state and federal maps of natural hazards also must be disclosed.

How can I find out if a property is located in a Seismic Hazard Zone?

As of September 23, 2002, there are 69 Official Maps of Seismic Hazard Zones statewide, affecting six (6) counties and ~150 cities. Counties are required to post notices at the offices of the county assessor, recorder, and planning agency that advise the public of the availability and location of Seismic Hazard Zone Maps that affect that county(Public Resources Code 2696c).

To determine whether a property is located in a Seismic Hazard Zone:

  1. If the property is within Alameda (Oakland/Piedmont, and San Leandro) and , Los Angeles, Orange, San Francisco, or Ventura counties, consult the list of affected cities. If the city is listed, click on one or more map links, zoom into the detailed maps and compare them with a local street map.
  2. If the property is outside Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, San Francisco and Ventura counties, the property is not in a mapped Seismic Hazard Zone. [Maps for parts of other counties will not be available until December 2002 or later.]

The planning agency or building department of the Affected Cities or county also has copies of zone maps located within their jurisdiction. Consult the appropriate local lead agency if you are uncertain whether a property lies within a Seismic Hazard Zone.

How can I be certain that the map I have is an Official Map of Seismic Hazard Zones?

The following text appears on all Seismic Hazard Zone Maps for which disclosure under Public Resources Code Section 2694 is required:

STATE OF CALIFORNIA
SEISMIC HAZARD ZONES

Delineated in compliance with
Chapter 7.8, Division 2 of the California Public Resources Code
(Seismic Hazards Mapping Act)

[NAME] QUADRANGLE

OFFICIAL MAP/REVISED OFFICIAL MAP

Effective: [Date]

[Signature of State Geologist releasing map]
STATE GEOLOGIST

Map Availability

Official Maps of Seismic Hazard Zones are issued periodically by the Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey in compliance with the Seismic Hazard Mapping Act. These maps are available for reference at all California Geological Survey offices (listed below) and at offices of the cities and counties affected by the zones. Counties are required to post notices at the offices of the county assessor, recorder, and planning agency that advise the public of the availability and location of Seismic Hazard Zone Maps that affect that county. The planning department of each Affected Cities and county has been provided with a reproducible master of each map affecting its jurisdiction. Copies of the zone maps are available for purchase from some of these local agencies. An index map with names of the Official Maps of Seismic Hazard Zones, images of the zone maps, lists of affected cities and counties, laypersons guide, technical guidelines, and additional information are available from the Seismic Hazards Mapping home page.

Arrangements have been made with BPS Reprographic Services to provide bond copies of Official Maps of Seismic Hazard Zones. Orders for Seismic Hazard Zone maps should be directed by phone or by mail to:

BPS Reprographic Services
945 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415) 495-2773

EACH MAP MUST BE ORDERED BY NAME AS SHOWN ON THE INDEX MAP.

CALIFORNIA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICES:

SACRAMENTO AREA SAN FRANCISCO AREA LOS ANGELES AREA
Publications and Information
801 K Street, MS 14-33
Sacramento, CA 95814-3532
(916) 445-5716
Earth Science Information Center / Map Sales
Building 3, Room 3-121
345 Middlefield Road, MS 520
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 688-6327
888 S. Figueroa Street
Suite 475
Los Angeles, CA 90017-3231
(213) 239-0878
[FrontPage Include Component] 

For More Information...

See the Seismic Hazards Zonation Program information page.