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2017 Lum Elementary Seismic Issue


In the spring of 2017, soil samples were taken at Lum Elementary School in preparation for constructing a new classroom building on the site. (Under state law, school districts have to test the soil at school sites before embarking on new construction.)

When the geotechnical engineers analyzed the soil, they discovered the threat of liquefaction was more significant than had been previously understood.

Structural engineers then informed AUSD that Lum Elementary School could not be guaranteed to be safe for long-term use because its building foundations were inadequate for this level of liquification. The risk, they noted, was that the the buildings could sink as much as 5 inches in a 100-year earthquake and the resulting damage could prevent exit from the classrooms.

In the course of this investigation, two geotechnical studies and two structural engineering studies were completed.  All of the scientists and engineers came to the same conclusions: the Lum soils were highly liquifiable, the Lum building foundations were inadequate for that liquifaction, the buildings could collapse in the event of an earthquake, and students and staff should be re-located.

"Our conclusion," ZFA Structural Engineers wrote in May, 2017, "is that the existing classroom, multi-use, and administration buildings at Donald Lum Elementary School have a high potential for partial or global collapse during a design-level seismic event due to foundation failures as a result of expected large differential settlements, and that retrofitting the existing structures is not practical. This is not a conclusion that we come to lightly." 

This page provides links to the geotechnical and structural reports, a study on the feasibility of repairing or replacing the Lum buildings, the Board of Education presentations, and frequently asked questions about the Lum findings.

Background Documents

Meetings and Communications

FAQs on Lum Safety Risk