Wilson Educates Council on Seismic Risks for City Hall in Letter to Council

Mayor and City Councilors,

I brought up the question of seismic vulnerability of city hall as it relates to the bond proposal at the recent town hall meeting.  Since then I submitted my findings of my investigation using the Oregon Department of Geology to Kelly Madding.  I have also reviewed the seismic study conducted by Miller Consulting Engineers dated December 7, 2015 that was provided to me by Paula Brown.  I have also talked extensively with Bill Burns, MS, CEG – Acting Earth Science Section Supervisor/Engineering Geologist and Yumei Wang, PE, who leads the Geohazards team both who are at the Oregon Department of Geology.

Seismic vulnerability of our city hall depends not only on the structural vulnerability but equally on the type of soil that the city sits on.  As I stated before, the soil under city hall is type UBC B (which translates to Rock) classified as no amplification, no liquefaction and low landslide possibilities.  Overall the city hall sits on land that is classified as a Zone D – lowest hazard area.

The Miller Engineering report states that “This evaluation develops a plan to upgrade the facility to allow the occupants to safely exit the structure after a major earthquake, which may not be (instead of “is not”) the case in its current state(Emphasis added).

Given 1) the structure could possibly allow for occupants to exit safely, 2) a low probability of a major earthquake 3) the low probability that, if a major earthquake occurred at all, it will be of sufficient magnitude to topple the building, 4) our city hall is occupied less than 50% of the time and 5)  the city hall sits on land that is literally rock solid leads to an obvious conclusion:

You should remove the earthquake vulnerability as the leading factor in our evaluation of this bond measure related to city hall…it is at best a minor factor.

Rather you should own up to fact that the real reason we want a new city hall is that it would be nice to be able to walk into or work in a new, attractive, albeit more efficient environment with proper plumbing and HVAC systems.  This is what the citizens of Ashland should be judging when considering the worthiness of this part of the bond proposal.

Because of the state of our city finances, I would recommend that we table this bond proposal and look for much more economical approaches to addressing this issue.  With a little creativity I think that we can develop a plan that will be long lasting, safe and effective.

Ken Wilson – Ashland

Wilson Educates Council on Seismic Risks for City Hall in Letter to Council

Wilson Educates Council on Seismic Risks for City Hall in Letter to Council