September 19, 2019


SUBJECT:    UC Seismic Safety Program

Because nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our students, researchers, faculty, staff and guests at UC San Diego, our campus championed efforts undertaken by the University of California (UC) in 2017 to proactively launch a comprehensive, multi-year effort to update seismic safety policies systemwide.

Recognizing that advances in geotechnical engineering and seismology can lead to better ways to protect the UC community during an earthquake, UC is choosing to update its building ratings by incorporating new technology, scientific advances, and best practices that have emerged in the past several years.

All University of California structures, including those at UC San Diego, meet applicable California building codes in effect at the time of their construction and at the time of any renovations. Structural upgrades during the next decade will take UC structures beyond what is currently required by state and local building codes.

The updated UC policy requires that every UC building with significant seismic performance deficiencies be retrofitted, replaced or vacated no later than the year 2030.

There are few, if any, parallel efforts in the private sector underway. It is unlikely that the office buildings, shopping centers and other places you visit will be subject to the sort of seismic review the UC is conducting, much less the ensuing remediation to which we are committed.

The effort to assess and rate every building on each of the 10 UC campuses was launched in 2018 and relies on a phased approach and schedule:

• PHASE 1: Completed no later than Dec. 31, 2018
• PHASE 2: Completed no later than June 30, 2019
• PHASE 3: Completed no later than June 30, 2020

In the first part of this process, structural engineers have been re-evaluating the structural integrity of UC’s buildings across its 10 campuses under the stricter standards developed through this updated effort. Seismic performance ratings were developed by UC, in collaboration with the California Department of General Services and California State University. The full description of ratings levels are:

• I – IV: Seismic Safety Policy Compliant
• V: Will Require Further Evaluation and, if Confirmed, Must be Addressed
• VI: High-Priority for Correction
• VII: Must be Unoccupied and Access-Restricted

Per the policy, 519 structures owned or occupied by UC San Diego were evaluated. While all university-owned buildings were designed and constructed in adherence to the codes in effect at the time of their construction, preliminary results determined that 230 of the buildings assessed currently have a seismic performance rating of “V.” These buildings will require further evaluation and, if the ratings are confirmed, the seismic deficiencies must be addressed.

Additionally, another 13 buildings were assessed at a seismic performance rating of “VI,” or a high-priority for correction. No UC San Diego buildings were found to warrant a “VII” rating.

The buildings that have a VI rating, per the initial assessment include:

• Center for Neural Circuits and Behavior
• Che Cafι
• Central Utilities Plant
• York Hall
• Nimitz Marine Facility Laboratory Building
• Biomedical Sciences Building
• Recreation Gymnasium
• Natatorium
• Main Gymnasium
• Price Center West
• Mandell Weiss Theater
• Mandell Weiss Theater Shop
• 8950 Villa La Jolla Drive


UC San Diego, like other UC campuses, will start prioritizing and planning its retrofitting work after the preliminary ratings are thoroughly evaluated and confirmed by engineers. As the evaluation process continues, UC San Diego is committed to providing timely communications about relevant developments and decisions.

The complex task of addressing seismically deficient buildings across campus requires significant financial investment, yet is consistent with UC San Diego’s well-established history of taking an active role in safely protecting everyone’s health and the environment. UC San Diego allocates on average approximately $14M of its central budget every year toward the improvement of existing buildings in addition to other sources of funding. We are working with the Office of the President to develop the financial plans needed to fund the extensive work required.

Meanwhile, UC San Diego has begun to review available, realistic options to limit occupancy and usage of seismically deficient buildings on our campus.

The university recognizes that earthquake risk is a reality for all people and organizations in California, especially in light of recent earthquakes and the evolving research in this critical area. UC will continue to be proactive in protecting its community and the public at large, in the short- and long-term.

UC and UC San Diego are holding itself to a higher standard in ensuring safety at each campus across the state. We will work diligently to ensure our campus is as safe as possible as quickly as possible.

For more information on this important UC initiative and the initial findings, please visit

Pradeep K. Khosla