Landslide risk areas found across the county

If you have a nice view, chances are you live near a landslide waiting to happen — though it’s possible the earth will stay put for thousands of years.

Local cities have been fielding more questions about landslide risks since the collapse of a hillside in Oso killed at least 41 people.

Communities near coastal bluffs or above lowland valleys don’t face the same type of risk as the March 22 slide. Still, the calamity in the North Fork Stillaguamish River valley has people everywhere in Snohomish County hankering to learn more about the ground above and below.

“We do have a lot of steep slopes and we’re definitely talking about the issue and what we’re going to do moving forward,” Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said. “Views of the sound usually go along with slopes.”

Most prevalent along coastal bluffs and in mountain valleys, landslide risks nevertheless can be found throughout the county. Places such as Woodway and Picnic Point have seen some of the more spectacular slides. Moving earth also has been a problem in Marysville, where a sloughing slope endangered homes above the Cedarcrest Golf Course in the late 1990s.

County Council members discovered how widespread landslide areas are earlier this week. They were considering a moratorium on residential construction within a half mile of landslide hazards identified by the state. They changed tack after a map revealed that a half-mile buffer would stop home building on almost all of the county’s developed — and developable — land.

Washington state since the 1990s has required cities to identify geologically hazardous areas.

In Edmonds, Everett and Mukilteo city governments, no one’s talking about re-writing building codes to keep people safe from landslides, but public works and building officials are looking at how to keep people better informed.

“There’s really a heightened interest in that whole topic,” Edmonds public works director Phil Williams said.

Edmonds has scheduled a talk by geotechnical engineer as part of the regular City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Williams said. The talk is to focus, in part, on a section of north Edmonds where the city long ago imposed stricter building rules because of landslide dangers.

Everett has landslide problem spots between downtown and Mukilteo as well as along the ridge that includes the Valley View neighborhood where houses are already falling down the hillside, and Lowell-Larimer Road. There’s also an unstable bluff bordering the Northwest Neighborhood.

Months before the natural disaster in Oso, Everett had planned a May 10 workshop about how people living on or near slopes can help lessen the chances of erosion and slides. The city sent out 2,400 invites to property owners in danger zones.

The state transportation department is leading a working group to try to protect the railroad tracks between Everett and Ballard. Slides during wet weather have been a nuisance and danger for train traffic along that stretch.

The working group, which also includes Burlington Northern Santa Fe and local governments, has $16 million in federal money to try to fix some of the most unstable areas. They’ve completed two projects in Snohomish County and have four more in queue.

Two transportation officials helping to lead the project are scheduled to update the Mukilteo City Council at 7 p.m. Monday, a presentation that’s been in the works for months.

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

More in Local News

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Three teens arrested for Marysville school vandalism

Windows were broken and a trash bin was on fire Sunday night at a Marysville middle school.

Langley mayor threatens newspaper with lawsuit

The mayor threatened to sue the paper over claims he withheld public records disclosure information.

Divers called to recover body after train hits pedestrian

The accident was reported by a BNSF crew near Woods Creek in Monroe.

Most Read