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Early California legislative politics and seismic safety

Earthquake Engineering Research InstituteThis paper, written by Bob Olson and published in EERI’s Earthquake Spectra, discusses California early seismc legislative initiatives.

California’s first major earthquake safety policy initiative was 1933’s Safety of Design and Construction of Public School Buildings Act, popularly known as the Field Act for its author, Assemblyman Don C. Field, who became the Field Act’s legislative champion. The foundation for its enactment a month after the 10 March 1933 Long Beach earthquake was laid earlier by the 29 June 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake, the Dam Act of 1929, the drafting of a proposed Building Code for California, the formation of the Structural Engineers Association of California, and general acceptance of California’s earthquake risk.

The author reviews the roles played by the pre-Field Act factors and the politics of the law’s enactment, including the central role played by the State Division of Architecture in preparing the legislation and supporting Assemblyman Field’s efforts.

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