Learn about seismic dangers near California schools

April 7, 2011

Earthquakes are a fact of life in California, and many schools are near fault lines or other earthquake hazards. That doesn't mean they'll collapse in a quake, but many school construction projects have failed to follow basic safety standards. California Watch uncovered about 20,000 projects that lack Field Act certification. Another state report released in 2002 found 9,659 buildings at about 3,000 schools with potentially dangerous seismic hazards. If you contact your district, please e-mail California Watch at seismic@californiawatch.org to let us know what you have learned.

But the state's data is messy. Names are misspelled. Schools are located in the wrong district, or don't appear to exist at all. California Watch's investigation found about 1,400 "Letter 4" uncertified projects and about 4,500 AB 300 projects at public schools. But about 595 "Letter 4" uncertified projects and about 1,671 AB 300 projects could not be mapped and are not included. You can download more complete uncertified and AB 300 lists here.

Ortega High

520 Chaney Street, Building 100 Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
  • 0 projects matched to this school were on the "AB 300 list," which identifies older school buildings with potentially dangerous seismic hazards that require more detailed evaluation.
  • 1 project was listed with "Letter 4" Field Act problems by the state architect's office and was able to be matched to this school. See below for current project statuses.
  • 0 projects were listed with "Letter 3" Field Act problems by the state architect's office and were able to be matched to this school.
  • Ortega High is ...
    • Not within 1/4 mile of any mapped seismic hazards

Updates about this school

This page has been updated since publication. Further reporting found a Letter 4 construction project located here.

"Letter 4" uncertified projects More about uncertified projects

Project ID Status
Project: 55215
Region: 04
As of December 2010, the Division of the State Architect considered this a "Letter 4" project. For the current status of this project, please visit the Division of the State Architect's Tracker site or contact the State Architect. You can read more about the state's downgrading of school projects here.

Update this listing

This page includes information from the most recent statewide databases available that we were able to match to a school site. But the state's data is messy. California Watch matched as many projects as we could to existing school sites but was unable to match about 595 uncertified projects and about 1,671 AB 300 projects. In addition, school districts may have repaired or torn down questionable buildings without telling state regulators as required by law. Do you know something about repairs at this school? Contact us to update this information.

Sources: California Department of Education, Division of the State Architect, California Geological Survey, Los Angeles Unified School District, California Watch research.

Credits: Interactive by Agustin Armendariz, Michael Corey, Chase Davis and Andrew Long. Research by Marie C. Baca, Jason Fisher, Corey G. Johnson, Stephanie Rice, Kendall Taggart.

Filed under: K-12