6-month ban on new construction near Oso slide OK’d

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council imposed a six-month ban Wednesday on new construction in the immediate area of the Oso mudslide and areas to the east where flood dangers are thought to have increased.

The emergency ordinances were the county’s first major changes in land-use policy since the March 22 slide, which covered a square mile in dirt and debris, killing 43 people.

The council did not even discuss some of the more controversial ideas, which faced opposition from builders and realtors.

“I prefer a measured approach,” Councilman Terry Ryan said. “I think the starting point is with a moratorium on the slide-impact area.”

The ban on new construction in the slide zone received unanimous support. The flood-area moratorium passed 4-1, with Councilman Ken Klein opposed.

“The flood area is constantly changing out there, so we don’t know what impact this will have,” Klein said.

Council Chairman Dave Somers disagreed with Klein, saying the map for the flood zone is based on best estimates from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The emergency ordinances will need to be renewed if the council wants to extend them beyond December. The expiration date happens to coincide with peak flood season.

Other proposed land-use changes did not even get discussed at Wednesday’s hearing. The ideas included recording landslide dangers on property titles to warn future owners of risks, expanding the areas around steep slopes that require a geotechnical study before new construction, and making those engineering studies adhere to more rigorous standards.

Lobbyists for builders and realtors largely opposed the notice requirements in their current form, while conservationists favored them.

“Ultimately, we do want disclosure, but we want it to be uniform,” said Ryan McIrvin, a lobbyist for the Snohomish County-Camano Association of Realtors.

McIrvin said he believed the Legislature will take up a state state-level disclosure law for landslide risk during next year’s session.

Somers, the most forceful advocate on the council for changing land-use rules in light of Oso, was disappointed that most of the proposals didn’t receive a public debate. His motion to talk about the ideas died when none of his colleagues seconded it.

“We know we have hazards that extend beyond what our current code regulates,” Somers said afterward.

Councilman Brian Sullivan said he agreed some of the ideas deserve consideration, such as having property owners sign waivers to acknowledge landslide risks, “but it needs to come back at a later date.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Foundation awards grants to Arlington schools

The Arlington Education Foundation on Nov. 13 presented a check to the… Continue reading

Snohomish County firefighters head to California for 18 days

They’re from Fire District 26 in Gold Bar, Getchell Fire and Fire District 7.

State commission reprimands Snohomish County judge for DUI

Judge Marybeth Dingledy had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a day in jail.

Driver arrested after car strikes pedestrian in Everett

The pedestrian was crossing the road near 12th Street and Broadway. He was injured.

Active Casino Road volunteer honored for work

Molina Healthcare recently honored Jorge Galindo, from Everett, as one of its… Continue reading

Over $12K raised to InspireHER

InspireHER, a local organization that encourages female empowerment, raised over $12,000 at… Continue reading

Most Read