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Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 10:34 p.m.

Neighbors blame city for slide that destroyed two homes

Everett slide destroyed two homes and damaged property

  • A view from below a red-tagged home in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    A view from below a red-tagged home in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett.

  • One of the two red-tagged houses on Burl Place continues to collapse down the hillside Thursday afternoon in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett. ...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    One of the two red-tagged houses on Burl Place continues to collapse down the hillside Thursday afternoon in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett. The designation means the houses are unsafe to occupy.

  • One of the two red-tagged houses on Burl Place continues to collapse down the hillside Thursday afternoon in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett. ...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    One of the two red-tagged houses on Burl Place continues to collapse down the hillside Thursday afternoon in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett. The designation means the houses are unsafe to occupy.

  • One of the two red-tagged houses on Burl Place continues to collapse down the hillside Thursday afternoon in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett. ...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    One of the two red-tagged houses on Burl Place continues to collapse down the hillside Thursday afternoon in the Valley View neighborhood of Everett. The designation means the houses are unsafe to occupy.

EVERETT -- A group of neighbors says the city is responsible for the landslide in the Valley View neighborhood that left two families without their homes and ruined surrounding property values.
The 13 homeowners sent a letter to city officials this week asking the city to stabilize the slope and make right homes damaged by the slide.
In the nine-page letter, the residents blame the root cause of the erosion on the city's expansion in 2004 of the neighborhood storm water drainage system, which they said is now sending far more water flowing down the hillside behind their homes.
"We believe the city's Valley View storm water system capacity project in 2004 did not properly assess the impact to the creek and ravine and did not mitigate the increased water effect," wrote the neighbors.
An early assessment of the city's utility systems in the area provided no indication Everett's waste water system contributed to the slide, spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.
"We did do work in the area in 2004, but the drainage basin area's boundaries did not change," she said.
The same amount of water was coming out of the pipes -- the city just made the pipes bigger, she said.
The city has documents that show fill was added to the top of the slope during the construction of at least some of the homes, Reardon said. The city also has records that indicate the slope was a known slide risk as far back as the early 1980s, she said.
The neighbors live along Panaview Boulevard and Burl Place, which overlook the Snohomish River valley. Their homes sit on top of a ravine cut by a narrow creek.
During the rainy months this winter, that dribble of a creek became a roiling rush of water, something long-time neighbors said they never saw before the expansion.
In March, city officials placed "no entry" red tags on two of the homes. One of those homes remains a wreck crumbled partway down the slope.
A third home received a yellow tag, which means the owner can retrieve belongings but shouldn't stay. Meanwhile, the slope continues its slow slump, with another six property owners losing portions of their backyards.
The economic fallout extends even to nearby homes that haven't been directly threatened, said Steve Mosman, who lives next door to the crumbled home. Nobody wants to risk buying a home next to an eroding slope.
His home and the majority of his yard remains stable, but he knows he and his wife now will never likely be able to move.
"It's difficult," agreed Jay Himmelman, who has lost nearly his entire backyard. "For a lot of people, their home is their nest egg. If you want to sell your house it would be difficult."
Himmelman has led an effort by neighbors to find out what happened. They've conducted their own studies, interviewed professionals and researched county and city documents that detail the drainage system in the area.
The neighbors have met weekly to keep updated on the situation. They want to give the city an opportunity to review what they've found and do the right thing, Himmelman said.
Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or dsmith@heraldnet.com.



Story tags » Everett

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