BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                       Bill No:  SB  
                       Senator Roderick D. Wright, Chair
                           2013-2014 Regular Session
                                 Staff Analysis

          SB 135  Author:  Padilla
          As Amended:  April 2, 2013
          Hearing Date:  April 9, 2013
          Consultant:  Art Terzakis

                        Earthquake Early Warning System

          SB 135 makes various findings and declarations relative to  
          the nature of earthquakes and early warning technology and  
          requires the Office of Emergency Services (OES), in  
          collaboration with the California Institute of Technology  
          (Caltech), the California Geological Survey (CGS), the  
          University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley), the U.S.  
          Geological Survey (USGS), and others, to develop a  
          comprehensive statewide earthquake warning system in  

                                   EXISTING LAW

           Existing Law provides for the California Emergency Services  
          Act which requires the Director of the Office of Emergency  
          Services (OES) to coordinate the emergency activities of  
          all state agencies during an emergency.

          Current law provides for the establishment of a  
          Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) for use by  
          all emergency response agencies.

          Existing law provides that OES shall coordinates the  
          activities of all state agencies relating to preparation  
          and implementation of the State Emergency Plan, the  
          response efforts of state and local agencies and the  


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          integration of federal resources into state and local  
          response and recovery operations.

          Existing law establishes the California Geological Survey  
          which provides scientific products and services about the  
          state's geology, seismology and mineral resources including  
          their related hazards, which affect the health, safety, and  
          business interests of the people of California. The  
          Geological Survey creates and maintains the California  
          Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) "ShakeMaps." 

          Existing planning laws require that safety elements of  
          local general plans protect communities from any  
          unreasonable risks associated with the effects of, amongst  
          others, earthquakes and tsunamis, and include mapping of  
          known seismic and other geological hazards. 

          Existing law provides for the 20-member Alfred E. Alquist  
          Seismic Safety Commission - 15 members are appointed by the  
          Governor and confirmed by the Senate, one member  
          representing the Governor's Office of Emergency Services,  
          one member representing the Division of the State Architect  
          in the Department of General Services, one member  
          representing the Building Standards Commission, one member  
          appointed by the Senate Rules Committee, and one member  
          appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.  

          The Commission was established with the passage of the  
          Seismic Safety Commission Act of 1975, in response to the  
          devastation following the Sylmar Earthquake of 1971, after  
          an ad hoc Committee recognized the need for a continuing  
          effort to build the State's infrastructure to resist future  
          earthquakes.  The Commission is charged with investigating  
          earthquakes, advising the Governor, Legislature and state  
          and local government on ways to reduce earthquake risk and  
          ensuring a coordinated framework for establishing  
          earthquake safety policies and programs in California.  

           Purpose of SB 135:   According to the author's office,  
          California has the highest seismic risk of any state in the  
          United States and this fact makes developing an early  
          warning system critical to the people of California.  This  
          measure would task OES, in collaboration with Caltech, UC  
          Berkeley, USGS, and CGS, the responsibility for developing  


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          a comprehensive earthquake early warning system.  

          The idea behind an earthquake early warning system is to  
          take advantage of the time lag between a quake's initial,  
          relatively mild shockwaves and the later ones that inflict  
          the bulk of the damage.  It is the author's belief that  
          development of this warning system has the potential to  
          save thousands of lives and millions of dollars.  A fully  
          developed warning system would provide Californians  
          critical seconds to take cover, assist loved ones, pull to  
          the side of the road, or move away from hazards.   
          Additionally, it could allow sufficient precious seconds to  
          stop a train, power down critical infrastructure, and speed  
          the response of emergency personnel.

          The author's office estimates the initial cost for the  
          system described in this measure is $82 million over a  
          5-year period - the author's office emphasizes that such an  
          investment will pay huge dividends by preventing even more  
          costly damage.
          Ring of Fire:   The author's office points out that 90% of  
          the world's earthquakes and over 80% of the words largest  
          earthquakes occur along the Circum-Pacific Belt, also known  
          as the "Pacific Ring of Fire."  California is in the heart  
          of the Pacific Ring of Fire 
          which includes the very active San Andreas Fault zone which  
          is more than 800 miles long and extends to depths of at  
          least 10 miles within the Earth.  Geological studies show  
          that over the past 1,400 to 1,500 years large earthquakes  
          have occurred at about 150-year intervals on the southern  
          San Andreas Fault - the last such large quake in 1857.

          According to analysis from the Uniform California  
          Earthquake Rupture Forecast, released in 2008, California  
          has a 99.7% chance of having a 6.7 magnitude earthquake and  
          a 94% likelihood of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake during the  
          next 30 years.  In addition, the USGS released a report  
          that showed a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the southern  
          Andreas Fault would cause 2,000 deaths and $200 billion in  
          damage, with severe and long lasting disruption. 

          Early warning systems are in place, or in the works, in a  
          number of earthquake prone nations including Japan, Taiwan,  
          Mexico, Turkey, Italy, China and Romania.  


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          Japan turned on the first publicly available nationwide  
          earthquake early warning system in 2007 and on March 11,  
          2011 it had its first true test during the 9.0 magnitude  
          Tohoku earthquake off the coast of Sendai.  Earthquake  
          warnings were automatically broadcast on television and  
          radio and 52 million people received their warning via  
          smartphones - millions more downloaded the early warning  
          app after the quake to receive warnings in advance of large  

           What is earthquake early warning and how does the system  

          When an earthquake occurs seismic waves radiate from the  
          epicenter like waves on a pond - it is these waves we feel  
          as earthquake shaking which causes damage to structures.   
          The technology exists to detect moderate to large  
          earthquakes so quickly that a warning can be sent to  
          locations outside the area where the earthquake begins  
          before these destructive waves arrive.  The amount of  
          warning time at a particular location depends on the  
          distance from the earthquake epicenter.  Locations very  
          close to the earthquake epicenter will receive relatively  
          little or no warning whereas locations far removed from the  
          earthquake epicenter would receive more warning time but  
          may not experience damaging shaking.  For those locations  
          in between, the warning time could range from seconds to  

          Currently, there are two approaches to earthquake early  
          warning - the "single station" (or on-site) approach and  
          the "network" approach.  In the single-station approach, a  
          single sensor detects the arrival of the faster but weaker  
          seismic wave (P-wave) and warns before the arrival of the  
          slower, more destructive seismic wave (S-wave).  This  
          approach is relatively simple, but some would argue it is  
          less accurate and more prone to false alerts compared to  
          the network approach.

          The network approach utilizes many seismic sensors that are  
          distributed across a wide area where earthquakes are likely  
          to occur.  This network of sensors sends data to a central  
          site where ground motion signals are analyzed, earthquakes  
          are detected and warnings are issued.  The network approach  
          is considered to be slower, but more reliable than the  
          on-site approach.  This is because it uses information from  


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          many stations to confirm that the ground motion detected is  
          actually from an earthquake and not from some other source  
          of vibration.

           The California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN):   The  
          CISN, a collaborative effort between Caltech, UC Berkeley,  
          USGS, CalEMA and CGS, currently operates a network of  
          hundreds of seismic sensors in California to monitor and  
          notify earthquake activity in this State.  The CISN is  
          primarily funded by USGS, CalEMA, and CGS.   The CISN  
          generates and distributes ShakeMap and other products for  
          emergency response, post-earthquake recovery, earthquake  
          engineering, and seismological research.
           Comments:   Currently, two contrasting approaches to  
          alerting the public about earthquakes are competing for the  
          state's support, one based on a network of  
          government-operated sensors, the other built around a  
          private company's equipment.  

          The Coachella Valley Emergency Managers Association (CVEMA)  
          and the Coachella Valley iHub (CViHub) applaud the author's  
          efforts in elevating the importance of early warning  
          systems but they have expressed concern that a top-down  
          government only program, such as SB 135, may not be the  
          only solution in an environment of shrinking government  

          Both CVEMA and CViHub believe that established industry  
          driven earthquake warning technology offers important  
          alternative and collaborative approaches with significant  
          public benefits.  Both entities reference the fact that in  
          2009, the CVEMA partnered with the Coachella Valley  
          Association of Governments (CVAG) to approve a  
          public/private partnership project that achieves  
          sustainable and beneficial earthquake warning.   
          Specifically, the Coachella Valley Regional Earthquake  
          Warning System (CREWS) is a private/public partnership  
          between CVAG, CVEMA, KESQ News TV Ch. 3, Seismic Warning  
          Systems, Inc., and the Coachella Valley's Public School  
                           PRIOR/RELATED LEGISLATION
           AB 928 (Blakeslee) 2009-10 Session.   Would have required  
          the High-Speed Rail Authority to develop an earthquake  
          early warning system and coordinate development of that  


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          system with the Cal-EMA, the Department of Education, and  
          the Public Utilities Commission. The bill would have  
          required the earthquake early warning system to be designed  
          to protect the lives of high-speed train passengers and  
          schoolchildren, and critical infrastructure by providing  
          advanced earthquake warning and by enabling preventive  
          measures seconds before an earthquake.  (Held in Assembly  
          policy committee at author's request)
          SB 1278 (Alquist), Chapter 532, Statutes of 2006.   Among  
          other things, renamed the Seismic Safety Commission the  
          Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission, placed the  
          commission within the State and Consumer Services Agency,  
          as an independent unit, and increased the membership of the  
          commission from 17 members to 20 members. 
          AB 1374 (Liu) 2005-06 Session.   Would have extended the  
          assessment that supports the  
          Seismic Safety Commission through July 1, 2013.  (Vetoed -  
          Governor's message stated, "Since we are reviewing how best  
          to use the expertise the Commission provides, it is  
          premature to extend the assessment that supports the  
          Commission through 2013.")
          AB 584 (Blakeslee), Chapter 92, Statutes of 2005.   Made  
          several clarifying, technical, and code maintenance changes  
          to existing provisions of the Government Code relating to  
          the Seismic Safety Commission.
          SB 1049 (Budget Committee), Chapter 741, Statutes 2003  .   
          Established authority until July 1, 2007 that Seismic  
          Safety Account funds may be used to fund activities of the  
          Seismic Safety Commission and related activities as  
          approved by the Legislature.  This was a shift from the use  
          of a mixture of money from the General Fund, seismic bond  
          funds and reimbursement which had been used prior to 2003.

           SUPPORT:   As of April 5, 2013:

          California Institute of Technology
          Los Altos, Town of
          Los Angeles, City of
          Rancho Cordova, City of
          South El Monte, City of
          The Honorable Bill Bogaard, Mayor City of Pasadena
          University of California


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          UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory 
          West Hollywood, City of

          OPPOSE:   None on file as of April 5, 2013.

           DUAL REFERRAL:   Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee
          FISCAL COMMITTEE:  Senate Appropriations Committee