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Earthquake Fault May Shake Up Navy-Broadway Plan

Developer Doug Manchester's plans to build high-rises on the site of the Navy Broadway Complex downtown could get shaken up. An active earthquake fault may run under the site. KPBS reporter Alison St

Earthquake Fault May Shake Up Navy-Broadway Plan

Developer Doug Manchester's plans to build high-rises on the site of the Navy Broadway Complex downtown could get shaken up. An active earthquake fault may run under the site. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

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The city of San Diego must issue a building permit before any high-rises can go up on the downtown waterfront site. Warner Landry is the city's senior geologist. Landry says the State has done studies showing that an active fault runs from Coronado Island and under San Diego. Opening a map of the Bay and downtown, he points to the Navy Broadway site.

<b> Landry: </b> So here's the NBC site, three blocks, and here's what appears to be a fault heading directly at it and not just a fault but an active fault.

But as it approaches downtown., Landry says, evidence of the fault line fades, because of interference.

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<b> Landry: </b> The question is does that fault come onto land -- well one would presume yes.  I would presume yes, anyway that's their normal behavior.

Landry says developer Doug Manchester has submitted studies of the Navy Broadway site by Geocon, a geotechnical contractor.

<b> Landry: </b> Geocom has analyzed it. They interpret the data they've gotten as not representing a fault, so that will be an area of contention perhaps later as they come in for the building permit.

Landry says the Navy Broadway site is actually on 25 feet of fill dirt used to convert the property from tidelands to build-able land earlier this century. That makes it difficult to dig up evidence of a fault line running deep beneath it.

The developer will not need permits from the city to build the Navy Headquarters. That will be up to federal inspectors. But it will be up to the city to decide whether the evidence undermines the ambitious plans for several more tower blocks up to 40 stories high.

Alison St John, KPBS News.