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Lenore and A…, Real Estate Pro in Vista, CA

How safe is it to live in Foster City, CA 94404?

Asked by Lenore and Alex Wilkas, Vista, CA Wed May 16, 2007

Foster City is built on mud flats. What will happen to it if a major earthquake comes? The the land liquify?

Help the community by answering this question:


According to published articles, Foster City was built on "engineered land fill" and city officials have said that worries about its instability in the case of earthquakes are misleading. They've apparently done tests and experiments on the land and the results have been reassuring for residents that live in Foster City and for potential buyers in the area. They have also observed that during the Loma Prieta earthquake in the 1980s there was limited damage, liquefaction, or movement in the city's buildings and structures. Either way, In the case of emergency situations, they also have one of the more extensive earthquake/emergency preparation programs in the Bay Area. But of course most of the articles disputing the safety of the city used quotes and evidence provided by the city of Foster City, so it could in reality be quite misleading. Tough to say!

Here are some articles that are worth reading about the earthquake stability in the area:

This is just an article about their earthquake preparedness program:
Web Reference: http://www.simpluxe.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 4, 2007
I would say relatively speaking, Foster City and Redwood Shores are more at risk to seismic shaking than communities to the west that are on alluvial soils or near-surface bedrock. I own a natural hazard disclosure company in the bay area and every map I have looked at shows Foster City shows in a high liquefaction area. County maps also outline a tsunami inundation area, and a dam failure inundation area from Crystal Springs Dam. Although tsunami and dam inundation hazards are less likely to occur than an earthquake that could cause liquefaction, these are hazards that should not be ignored. I have also heard of salt-water intrusion problems which could weaken materials used in construction. It's best to have a qualfied specialist evaluate a structure prior to purchase.
Web Reference: http://www.bluenhd.com/
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 9, 2007
I have lived in Foster City for 24 years and was here when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. Foster city had very little damage, far less than San Mateo and other surrounding cities. My home had no damage. Foster City land had been dry and protected from the Bay since 1897. Water barriers were built beginning in 1901 and levees were strengthened in 1947, 1960 and 1983. They are considered still in excellent condition today (2013). The surface of the land was raised to 4'-5' elevation in order to create a central drainage basin, a water "impoundment area," resembling a lake or lagoon in the middle of the city which could then be pumped back into the Bay. 14 million cubic yards of sand were pumped up from SF Bay and deposited onto Brewer's Island (Foster City's former name). There is no better fill than sand as it compacts easily and, when compacted, is structurally sound. Each layer was compacted separately squeezing the water out and then the water was pumped away. Because the fill was compacted when it was placed on the surface, the future settlement was of the mud and was a result of the weight of the compacted fill. Liquifaction is a phenomenon when loose wet sand is shaken by an earthquake in such a way that the sand sinks and the water comes to the top. Liquifaction is not possible with compacted sand since there is no water in it to rise to the top. In conclusion, I believe it is extremely safe to live in Foster City as I have for 24 years and plan on continuing to do so for many more years. To read the complete history of the creation of Foster City, read The Development of Foster City by T. Jack Foster, Jr. on sale at Google Books and Amazon Books.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
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