Calif. budget: $1.49M proposed to map earthquake faults

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Contained in Gov. Jerry Brown's new state budget proposal Thursday is $1.49 million for the California Department of Conservation — which is responsible for mapping earthquake faults — marking a potential turnaround for the department that has struggled to create the much-needed seismic maps in the face of budget cuts.  

Don Drysdale, spokesman for the department, called the announcement "significant" and  said the money would increase the number of geologists working in the field to four from one. The proposal also calls for $1.3 million in dedicated annual funding for mapping efforts, which would be financed with an increase in building permit fees. 

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Official fault maps are important because the 1972 Alquist-Priolo Act requires the state to map the areas around active faults and mandates that any development project in a mapped area must be at least 50 feet away from such a fault.

Yet the state has lagged in its task to create the maps, having finished 554 of them since 1972. Budget cuts in more recent years have slowed mapping to a crawl: The California Geological Survey is currently completing just one map a year, with an estimated 300 still to go, state geologist John Parrish told KPCC for an earlier story.

Last week, State Senator Ted Lieu (D- Torrance) asked Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to restore funds to the California Geological Survey

On Thursday, Leiu said he was pleased with Brown's proposal. "During the budget process, we will see if those funds are sufficient, but this is a very good start," he said.

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