City Hall sits just 500 feet from Hayward’s namesake fault, and as part of the Bay Area’s main media event related to the ShakeOut, officials are offering news agencies a tour of the base-isolation system in the building’s underground parking garage, which is designed to keep it in one piece when the next big one hits.
“We want to let residents know that there was a lot of forethought, so that after an earthquake City Hall will be intact and functional,” said Hayward fire Capt. Thor Poulsen. “We want citizens to know that to be resilient when — not if — it happens, they also have to be prepared ahead of time.”
Hayward’s has two previous city hall buildings, both of which are still standing, but both of which are not considered seismically sound. The first one was built directly on top of the fault while the second was damaged by the Loma Prieta quake in 1989.
The current building, opened in 1998, sits on 53 seismic isolation bearings and 15 shock absorbers. It can move nearly two feet in any direction, and was designed to withstand a 7.5-magnitude quake with no loss of life, Poulsen said.
Poulsen said he’d like to see more people taking the free CERT classes offered by the city. “There’s always room,” he said, adding that interest spikes after a major earthquake occurs somewhere in the world but doesn’t take long to wane.
“It’s like any disaster,” he said. “After a big fire, people will take care to trim their bushes, but after a little while they will stop thinking about it.”