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Government buying up property

Posted by on Apr. 3, 2014 at 8:44 PM
KK
  • 10 Replies
1 mom liked this

People are generally very outspoken at the government "taking" (often the term used when the government forces people to sell)  property from property owners wonder under these circumstances below if the opinion is the same or is this a legitimate reason for the government to step in to buy out the community.  


SEATTLE (AP) - A decade before a colossal landslide buried a Washington community, county officials considered buying up people's homes there to protect them from such a disaster.

A 2004 Snohomish County flood-management plan said the cost of buying Oso properties and removing residents from the path of a potential slide "would be significant, but would remove the risk to human life and structures."

But after weighing several options, the county instead recommended a project to shore up the base of an unstable hillside near the community about 55 miles north of Seattle, according to documents first reported by The Seattle Times.

The county eventually built a huge wall to reduce landslide and flood risks. But it wasn't enough to hold back the square mile of dirt, sand and silt that barreled down the hillside March 22, leveling homes and killing at least 30 people.

Some area residents and their family members say they knew nothing of the landslide danger or home-buyout proposals.

"There's never been any document that we've seen regarding that," said Irene Kuntz, whose sister Linda McPherson died in the landslide.

Kuntz said her father bought land in the area in 1940, and he "never was given any notice that it was in danger" from landslides. Her son's home also was destroyed in the slide.

The Darrington woman said she didn't know whether they would have taken a buyout if offered.

A message left with Snohomish County Public Works director was not immediately returned. Heidi Amrine, a spokeswoman for the Joint Information Center for the landslide, said Thursday: "We don't have anyone who can address that right now."

Geologic reports noted previous landslides in the area and warned of a potential disaster.

In 2004, county officials evaluated three options, including voluntarily buying out properties at the base of the hillside that collapsed nearly two weeks ago.

The county based its options in part on a report by a consultant, GeoEngineers, who wrote that the landslide posed a "significant risk to human lives and private property, since human development of the flood plain in this area has steadily increased since the 1967 event."

GeoEngineers had warned in a 2000 draft study about "catastrophic failure," saying the river at the base of the landslide-prone hill was actively cutting into the slope.

That study, authored by Tracy Drury, weighed five alternatives, including buying out all the properties in flood-plain area and moving the Stillaguamish River about 2,000 feet from the slide. The cost of land purchases was estimated to be $1.6 million.

But the consultant said the likelihood that all property owners would be willing to sell was low, and so suggested a preferred option of providing "storage areas" in the flow path of the river to trap sediment from the slide.

A call to Drury was not returned Thursday. A woman who answered the phone at Drury's office Wednesday said Drury and others would not be available to comment.

The county ultimately recommended building a log wall to reduce the danger of landslides and flooding and to keep sediment out of the river. While technically feasible, the plan noted that "stabilizing any large slide such as this is a difficult task."

The 1,300-foot wall was built in 2006.

Dale Dunshee, who sold his property in the neighborhood three years ago, told The Times: "If I'd known it was that dangerous, I would have moved in a heartbeat."

___

Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

by on Apr. 3, 2014 at 8:44 PM
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Replies (1-10):
4evrinbluejeans
by KK on Apr. 3, 2014 at 8:46 PM

So far we have learned that a report was done 15 years ago that predicted this slide and the state used outdated reports to allow the area above the slide zone to be clear cut, now we learn the county considered buying up the property to protect life. 

Certainly is a different picture than the one painted immediately following where county and state officials claimed they had no idea this was a risk. 

lga1965
by on Apr. 3, 2014 at 8:57 PM

 O.M.G.

meriana
by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2014 at 9:11 PM

They knew for years that the area was prone to slides and dangerous, yet the county still allowed homes to be built there. It was criminal, IMO, for the county to allow the building in the first place.

Della529
by on Apr. 4, 2014 at 10:42 AM

 Bump for later.

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Apr. 5, 2014 at 6:55 PM
Did people not know they were living on a hillside? Did their insurance companies not tell them they were on/near a flood plain? Did they not notice the giant wall being built? There is personal responsibility here.
4music
by Bronze Member on Apr. 5, 2014 at 7:29 PM
Same questions went through my mind.

Quoting LauraKW: Did people not know they were living on a hillside? Did their insurance companies not tell them they were on/near a flood plain? Did they not notice the giant wall being built? There is personal responsibility here.
Donna6503
by Platinum Member on Apr. 5, 2014 at 7:33 PM
This

Quoting Della529:

 Bump for later.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
JakeandEmmasMom
by Platinum Member on Apr. 5, 2014 at 8:17 PM
Wow.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
meriana
by Platinum Member on Apr. 6, 2014 at 3:10 AM
1 mom liked this

They weren't on a hillside. The area where the homes were was pretty flat actually. Yes they knew they were near the river and I'm sure some of them saw the wall being built. However, they were led to believe that the wall would ensure safety and a land slide wouldn't occur or at least wouldn't be a problem.The slide was from a hillside behind the homes. Here's some more about it:

The warnings could hardly have been clearer. One technical report told of the "potential for a large catastrophic failure" of the 600-foot hillside above a rural neighborhood near Oso, on the Stillaguamish River. Another noted plainly that it "poses a significant risk to human lives and private property."
The danger was so apparent that Snohomish County officials mulled buying out the properties of the residents who lived there.
Instead, the county continued to allow the construction of homes nearby. Seven went up even after a significant slide approached the neighborhood in 2006.

The entire article is here:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Unclear-Washington-landslide-lawsuits-could-win-254034411.html


meriana
by Platinum Member on Apr. 6, 2014 at 3:18 AM

Here's one person's comment,  from the aforementioned article:

"I hope there is some recourse," said Davis Hargrave, a 73-year-old architect from Kirkland who lost his second home. "Were we informed of this danger? No, a very emphatic no.

"The county is happy to send you a bill for your utilities every month. Could somebody drop you a postcard and say, 'Hey we got word the mountain could fall on you?' Not even a postcard."

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Unclear-Washington-landslide-lawsuits-could-win-254034411.html

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