About the Commission

The Commission investigates earthquakes, researches earthquake-related issues and reports, and recommends to the Governor and Legislature policies and programs needed to reduce earthquake risk. Among the duties of the Commission are:

  • Managing California’s Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
  • Reviewing seismic activities funded by the State
  • Providing a consistent policy direction for earthquake-related programs for agencies at all government levels
  • Proposing and reviewing earthquake-related legislation
  • Conducting public hearings on seismic safety issues
  • Recommending earthquake safety programs to governmental agencies and the private sector
  • Investigating and evaluating earthquake damage and reconstruction efforts following damaging earthquakes

Mission Statement

Support the People of California to Reduce Life and Economic Losses from earthquake related disasters

Vision Statement

Achieve resiliency by providing state, local government and the public with state-of-art disaster tools that will reduce losses and expedite recovery

History and responsibilities

The Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission (SSC) was established in 1975, with the passage of the Seismic Safety Act to provide a coordinated framework for establishing consistent earthquake policies, advising the Governor, the Legislature, local governments, and the public, and tracking the state’s progress toward higher levels of seismic safety.  To support this broad mission, the SSC uses the expertise of its commissioners to review, evaluate, and translate scientific information and make recommendations to guide and influence earthquake safety policies.

The SSC works with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as the private sector, on a variety of activities that support the state’s earthquake preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery.  These activities include: (1) encourage and support research related to seismic safety; (2) recommend the addition, deletion, or changing of state agency guidelines or standards to reduce damage from earthquakes or increase seismic safety when new developments would promote earthquake hazard mitigation; (3) develop findings and recommendations on lessons learned that lead to reduced losses and rapid economic recovery, following a destructive earthquake; (4) conducting public hearings on seismic safety issues; (5) using existing knowledge and conducting studies, where necessary, to improve the performance of structures in California, (6) recommending earthquake safety programs and supporting cost-effective partnerships that help reduce earthquake risks and speed economic recovery.

Through the passage of AB 100 Chapter 20, Statutes of 2020 the SCC exist in Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). There are 15 commissioners who provide policy guidance, topical expertise, and perspectives from the private sector, academia, and local government.

View a timeline of selected seismic legislation: 100 Years of Seismic Safety [pdf]

Special Committees

Much of the Commission’s work is carried out by special committees. These committees investigate specific issues thoroughly and recommend policies and legislation to the full Commission. Currently, our committees are:

1. Planning & Budget Committee Provide guidance to the executive director relating to planning, administrative, policy and fiscal issues and make recommendations to the full commission. Meets Monthly

2. Strong Motion Instrumentation Advisory Committee (SMIAC) The SMIAC was established by law to advise the California Geological Survey in the long term operation and goals of the strong motion instrumentation program (SMIP). SMIAC has had a long history of involvement including:

  • Modification and upgrading of existing instrumentation and addition of new recording devices
  • General use and dissemination of data collected by SMIP
  • Cooperative efforts with other strong motion programs including the USGS
  • A direct application of data for use by engineers in the design of structures and modification of building codes

3. Public School Safety and the Field Act Ad Hoc Committee.

External Assignments

  1. Southern California Earthquake Center Representative
  2. State Earthquake Insurance Program/Issues Representative
  3. State Historical Building Safety Board Representative
  4. Hospital Building Safety Board Representative
  5. OES Statewide Emergency Planning Meeting (SWEPC)