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

With passage of the Seismic Safety Act in 1975 the Seismic Safety Commission was established to advise the Governor, Legislature, and state and local governments on ways to reduce earthquake risk. Our name was revised in 2006 by Senate Bill 1278 which changed the name to the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission. Senate Bill 1278 (Alquist, 2006) made changes to the Seismic Safety Act that included moving the Commission under the California State and Consumer Services Agency and adding three more members to the Commission. The Commission is composed of 20 commissioners chosen for their expertise and experience. Fifteen members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, one member appointed by the Senate Rules Committee, one member appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, a representative from Building Standards Commission, a representative from the State Architect’s office, and a representative from Cal EMA. The Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission elects annually from its membership its own chairman and vice chairman and can replace them with other commissioners by a majority vote. Commissioners must be residents of California. The term of office for each member of the Seismic Safety Commission is approximately four years. The office is held until the appointment and qualification of his or her successor is made. A quorum consists of ten members if there are no vacancies, or else a majority of the members of the Commission at the time. 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)