Letters to the Editor - Dec. 23, 2013

  • Written by Readers

Landsliding? Where, Where?

As a practicing engineering geologist of 40 years, and a Woodinville area resident of 35 years, I am taken aback at some of the comments attributed to one of the City Council members at a recent council meeting.

There are members of the community, and on the council, who would like to buy a series of properties in the northeast quadrant of the city.

Supposedly this would "protect" the steep slope areas above and east of the Hwy 522 corridor.

Certain of these properties were to be developed but the developer had been turned back by ordinance and lawsuits over the last decade.

I would like to voice my concerns with what I believe are inaccurate statements made by City Council member Susan Boundy-Sanders regarding these sloping properties and the risks associated with their developed and undeveloped conditions.

The statements made in the lead story of the Weekly dated December 9th, 2013, relate to the risk of landsliding on these properties.

Having lived in the area, and conducted geologic and engineering studies for several projects over the years on the slope between Costco and the NE 195th Street right-of-way, I take exception to the risk statements made in public by Ms. Boundy-Sanders.

I need to point out that there is a big difference between Steep Slope Hazard and Landslide Hazard under most Municipal and County codes including King County.

Granted, there certainly are Steep Slope Hazard areas present under Code for 40 percent slopes in portions of the properties Ms. Boundy-Sanders mentioned in council.

However, steep slopes do not necessarily make a Landslide Hazard.

Landslide Hazards must meet certain criteria relating to silt/clay soil types, significant springs, documented previous areas of movements and other criteria under KC Code, for instance.

I would be interested to see what documentation Ms. Boundy-Sanders has obtained to label these various properties Landslide Hazards other than her "visual estimation."

In addition, the City of Woodinville Identified Critical Areas Map (Figure A13-1) shows steep slope hazard areas over these properties but not Landslide Hazard delineations.

Several hundred acres of land to the south and southwest of downtown is delineated Landslide Hazard.

I wonder if the city should also buy these designated lands to lock up as "Open Space" for no residential development and no improved park use?

As a geologist, I am also very careful about labelling any properties with a negative designation unless I have conducted detailed studies to show that those properties do indeed fulfill the code definitions.

I am concerned when a public official uses an apparent scare tactic to validate the purchase of these slope parcels to "protect" them and to protect the public from a risk of "dangerous landsliding."

Perhaps, Ms. Boundy-Sanders has a count of the "homes and properties and lives of the unbelievers" that may have already been affected by this purported potential area of sliding?

Please, Ms. Boundy-Sanders, don’t try to scare the public into thinking that the acquisition of these parcels would "protect" the public from slide danger and save families and children from landslides striking their homes lower on the slope.

Paul K. Bonifaci, Woodinville

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