Essential Services Buildings Seismic Safety Act (ESBSSA)


In 1986, the California Legislature determined that buildings providing essential services should be capable of providing those services to the public after a disaster. Their intent in this regard was defined in legislation known as the Essential Services Buildings Seismic Safety Act of 1986 and includes requirements that such buildings shall be:

designed and constructed to minimize fire hazards and to resist…the forces generated by earthquakes, gravity, and winds.

Excerpt from Health and Safety Code section 16001

This enabling legislation can be found in the California Health and Safety Code, Chapter 2, sections 16000 through 16022. In addition, the California Building Code defines how the intent of the act is to be implemented in Title 24, Part 1 of the California Building Standards Administrative Code, Chapter 4, Articles 1 through 3. Individual sections are available on LegInfo.


Responsibility for enforcement of the act falls to the local building jurisdiction for locally owned or leased facilities and to the Division of the State Architect (DSA) for state owned or leased facilities. However, the duties and responsibilities of the State Architect include observing the implementation and administration of the act’s provisions for all including "…providing advice and assistance to local jurisdictions regarding essential services buildings." Therefore, the DSA should be contacted for assistance if your local building jurisdiction cannot answer questions.

Division of the State Architect (DSA): Contact Information

The DSA is comprised of a headquarters office in Sacramento and four regional offices located in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Diego. The four regional offices carry out project plan review, construction oversight, and project close-out activities. The headquarters office develops and oversees DSA programs, policies & procedures, and performs general administrative functions. DSA contact information is available on their website or they can be reached at (916) 445-8100.