Valley View residents threaten to sue city over landslides
EVERETT - Neighbors in the Valley View Neighborhood, where landslides destroyed one house and forced some residents to abandon their homes in 2011, are preparing to sue the city next month.
The issue stems from a storm water pipe redesign that neighbors say sends way too much water into the creek below their homes.
There are seven households involved in the potential lawsuit against the city. The claims amount to more than $6 million.
“To date, the information gathered does not indicate the fault of the city,” city attorney Jim Iles said last week.
In 2012 former city spokeswoman Kate Reardon told KING 5 TV there’s nothing showing the slides are more than a naturally occurring event.
Resident Jay Himmelman insists the city designed the system completely wrong. He warned that if the claims aren’t settled, neighbors have no choice but to sue, but they’d rather come to a settlement.
“You guys, frankly, this is embarrassing,” Himmelman told the Everett City Council. The city fixed the pipe but never mitigated for impacts downstream, he said.
He showed the council last week photos of overflow pipes gushing out water at what Himmelman estimates is a velocity of 42 feet a second.
Himmelman is an engineer and picked apart the environmental documentation and he described how erosion was neither mitigated nor anticipated. Neighbors also hired private engineers who concluded the slides are unnatural.
He ran down the environmental checklist: “Could erosion happen? No. Source of runoff? Not available. Runoff control? Not needed.”
“You did a great job preventing the flooding, but you failed below us,” Himmelman said.
The city listed the area as flat when a cluster of homes sit on a steep ravine downstream.
Neighbors have dubbed the site “Armageddon Creek” and there is a series of YouTube videos chronicling the issue under that name.
The 2011 slide caused two other homes to partially collapse and many others now sit on the edge of the eaten-away cliff.
A significant chunk of Himmelman’s yard has fallen away from slides. He was among many neighbors whose property values have been destroyed.
“You backed me in a corner,” Himmelman said. “My house is worth zero.”
In 2012, the city chose not to include Valley View in a $4 million package for citywide landslide repairs because the sliding land is private property.
Check out our online Publications!