'Surfing Madonna' Raises Quake Safety Concerns

Encinitas Officials Concerned Mosaic May Have Compromised Earthquake Retrofitted Wall

Encinitas city officials are concerned that the 'Surfing Madonna' mosaic may have damaged a critical piece of infrastructure and may cause a safety hazard.

"It takes a whole lot of cute out of this stunt," said Encinitas City Councilman Jerome Stocks.

The mosaic is now under scrutiny because it was installed on a shear wall, which is designed to stabilize the railroad overpass in the event of an earthquake. Stocks told 10News he's concerned that the earthquake-retrofitted wall has been compromised by the 18 bolts the artist used to install it.

10News learned engineers from the North County Transit District will inspect the bridge support sometime this week to make sure it is safe.

Anton Gerschler, the attorney for the 'Surfing Madonna' artist Mark Patterson told 10News it wasn't bolts but quarter-inch blue concrete screws that the artist used to install his artwork. Gerschler explained the screws were used to secure the eight panels until the glue affixing them to the wall could dry.

Gerschler said that the wall is made up of rebar, which is too strong to be damaged by screws or glue.

"If it's a truly earthquake-safe wall, how would 18 bolts compromise it?" asked Ashley Lanahan as she admired the artwork on Encinitas Boulevard. "It seems to me that if it's earthquake-proof, it should be able to withstand 18 bolts."

Lanahan said she is concerned about the tourists who step into the lanes of traffic to take pictures of the mosaic.

"I've heard of a couple people almost getting in accidents because they're kind of hanging out their window with their phone taking pictures," she said.

Encinitas city officials said the 'Surfing Madonna' must be moved because of religious connotations and because it was put up illegally.

The city is waiting for a consultant's report to tell them how best to remove the mosaic without ruining it.

Several private businesses have come forward and offered to have the artwork moved to their properties.

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