Beach Drive slide zone: Slope work wrapping up; road repair soon

September 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

A little over one year after news of a settlement ending the Beach Drive legal mess born of a muddy mess, the resulting project is just about done. If you haven’t driven the 6000 block lately – the retaining walls, drainage, slope revegetation, and even street trees are in; the photo above is from Thursday – compare it to one of the photos we’ve taken in the past six years after recurring slides from that slope:

Homeowners along the water side of that area had sued, saying both the city and upslope homeowner/builder Peter Saladino were to blame. As part of the settlement, he agreed to fix the slope, and that work’s been under way all summer, following the granting of permits earlier in the year.

Now the big question – how soon will the badly rutted road in that area be repaired? SDOT had said that work would follow the slope project. We checked with the department today; spokesperson Marybeth Turner told WSB, “We tentatively plan to pave this area at the end of the month if weather is favorable … assuming the contractor at that location has finished everything.”


  1. Iknow the steel is good for maybe 20 years,but what is the waranty on the wood?

    Comment by boy — 10:06 pm September 6, 2013 #

  2. I have watched this project through its months of construction, and am impressed.
    I had no idea its history was so fraught with trouble and legal entanglements, but it seems as if the settlement was fair and the end result looks safe and sound to me…fingers crossed going forward. ;)

    Comment by pupsarebest — 11:02 pm September 6, 2013 #

  3. So it all slides down and will supposedly be held back by that wall? Good luck with that.

    Comment by anita — 11:24 pm September 6, 2013 #

  4. It was safe and sound before. If homeowners/developers continue chopping down trees on steep slopes solely to create a pretty view, we can expect more landslides like this. Land management regulation needs to be strictly enforced. I much preferred the trees and greenery that were there before, not a stack of wood and steel. I want the rest of Beach Drive/Alki area to stay as natural as possible. This is not attractive.

    Comment by Ray West — 4:05 am September 7, 2013 #

  5. Agreed. it was much better before they started messing with the trees. People have a really warped sense of entitlement when it comes to their precious ” views” The city has a whole section on the gov. website about RE treeing and urban canopy, the value added and the purpose of the trees. Yet aholes continue to take mature urban trees down left and right for their views.

    Comment by sophista-tiki — 7:39 am September 7, 2013 #

  6. I think it looks a lot better than the mud that was there, but I wonder how many years it will be before the tops of the trees that were planted on the slope will be chopped off by the homeowners above them…

    Comment by ttt — 7:47 am September 7, 2013 #

  7. Wow! What a change! Used to be all green trees and shade and now it’s a mass of wood and steel. At least those homeowners at the top of the hill got their pretty view all fixed up! :-(
    I wonder if the folks at the bottom of the hill feel like they live outside a gated community now. Don’t come over the wall, this is -ours-. Sad that it’s kind of what it looks like.

    Comment by MargL — 8:05 am September 7, 2013 #

  8. Folks are you not clear that this was a steep slope with recurrent landslide issues? Into the road? Over cars? It was a public safety I issue and it wasn’t a “lets cut down green stuff for the fun of it!” Moreover the hill was lacking trees which is part of the problem to begin with. From what I understand, this occured when the houses on the hill will built with improper treatment for water to the slope, so it began to erode away. Hence the settlement with the builder. Um, I will take the wall any day as long as it keeps tons of dirt from rushing over me on the street below!

    Comment by Kgdlg — 8:32 am September 7, 2013 #

  9. Consider this….Many property owners purchased land because of the amazing views. Unfortunately, many purchased land adjacent to city owned property. Many of the city parcels now are thickets of ugly, overgrown, view obscurring garbage trees.
    Smarter property management is simple and easy, embraces the idea that views and trees are important. A green belt or city property allowed to slowly but surely devalue adjacent properties is just plain stupid. Stupid stupid stupid.
    There are hundreds and hundreds of municipalities that have figured this out, and guess what? Those municipalities as a whole generate more tax property tax revenue, less litigation on property issues, and higher overall property valuations.

    Comment by Mark — 8:45 am September 7, 2013 #

  10. What an epic failure of construction that caused all this. I’d never hire that construction company for a project, that’s just poor craftsmanship and planning to make a quick dollar.

    Comment by Mike — 9:09 am September 7, 2013 #

  11. +1 not pretty. Also worried about how long that wood will hold up.

    Comment by MMB — 9:32 am September 7, 2013 #

  12. We live on Beach Drive directly below the slide remediation. The slides we experienced had little or nothing to do with folks cutting down trees for views. Everyone up on Atlas had gorgeous views before all of this happened. The slides had more to do with the hilltop development over the years, perhaps with one large home in particular. There was a dispute over whether the development totally complied with the permits. I can’t speak for other homeowners around us, but the hillside was an ugly overgrown site for years prior to the slide. We think that as the new landscaping grows in, the wood and steel will become less conspicuous and the landscaping will take over. We believe its an improvement to the neighborhood over the pre-slide condition. I would be curious how our neighbors feel.

    Comment by LHS — 9:46 am September 7, 2013 #

  13. y’all don’t need to worry about how long the wood will last. For one thing, it is treated lumber. More importantly, the retaining wall is not intended to be a dam — there is an extensive drainage system to divert the water before it gets to the wall (per the earlier WSB story, the permit requires ‘installation of subsurface drainage’).
    I agree with neighbor LHS; the wall looks raw now but with the revegetation (I’m guessing it will have ivy hanging down from the top) and the weathering of the timbers, it will become much less conspicuous over time.

    Comment by metrognome — 11:13 am September 7, 2013 #

  14. I see a lot of comments here from people that must have little or no history of this area along with no construction knowledge. Slides in this area and many others here in WS have been going on long before there was people living here. As for how long this type of construction will last I will just say probably a lot longer than most people commenting here. I am also very glad to see the owner/contractor do the work instead of this city unless you like cost overruns, bad planning and design ++++ . I totally agree with the well said comment from LHS.

    Comment by wetone — 11:46 am September 7, 2013 #

  15. Google soldier pile & lagging wall. It’s very common, safe, will last for years. If you go look into most large building projects you will see these used both permanent and temporarily while the foundations and underground structures are built. From an aesthetic point of view it would have been nice to place a concrete wall of some type in front of it, but I’m sure there trying to keep cost down.

    Comment by Jon — 12:01 pm September 7, 2013 #

  16. There are natural underground springs all along Beach Dr greenbelt that lubricates the clay substructure. Soil just slides right off it. Has nothing to do with trees and other vegetation. I grew up right above Beach Dr, and we had slides all the time.

    Comment by G — 12:42 pm September 7, 2013 #

  17. I live right down the street, and can see the retention wall from my house. I’ll say this: I’m not happy with the way it looks, preferring the hillside in it’s natural state. But it had gotten pretty bad since the original trees were removed, so I’ll accept what’s there as a compromise between natural beauty and the safety of the houses below and the integrity of the street below. I was originally critical of those above on Atlas who were the genesis of all this happening, but I now think they’ve paid the price. It doesn’t make it right, but they’ve been held to account.

    What causes me some trepidation is this: someone’s not going to resist tagging that retaining wall.

    Comment by petert — 2:37 pm September 7, 2013 #

  18. I like it. It appears safe. Vegetation will grow. It could be a lovely retaining wall.

    Comment by shed22 — 6:18 pm September 7, 2013 #

  19. wetone and Jon are right. This is an extremely common form of robust/strong wall system used to hold back a slide-prone area. The use of drainage installed upslope combined with the soldier pile wall with tiebacks is the “cadillac” system. If you drive around West Seattle, you’ll notice these walls in other areas that are years old, and performing well.

    And likewise, the slide zone was historic – not just because of recent tree-cutting (but clearly, the recent activity of building on that slope made things worse). All of our slopes are moving, at different rates, depending on soil conditions and water infiltration.

    In time, the wall will look less austere as vegetation grows back in. And I’ll be so glad when the road is fixed.

    Comment by wscommuter — 1:07 pm September 8, 2013 #

  20. As for the other question:
    “…how soon will the badly rutted road in that area be repaired?”

    I drove over it. Feels no worse than 35th Ave SW, which, as we all know, is a shining example of a quality major city arterial.

    (Seattle->Roads->Bah->Grumble, Mumble, Grumble)

    Comment by wsn00b — 1:45 pm September 9, 2013 #

  21. Having to drive almost every stretch of West Seattle road for a variety of reasons – from covering Night Out parties to fires, car crashes, etc. – I really would put this one at or near the top of the list. But its real danger is for bicycle riders, and Beach Drive – for recreation as well as for basic transportation – sees more of them than many other stretches of road.

    Comment by WSB — 2:14 pm September 9, 2013 #

  22. While I’d like to see the road properly paved, I’d also like to see speed bumps put in place. People intentionally speed and race on Beach Drive. 2 cars racing a few weeks ago, and one nearly sideswiped me while I was riding my bicycle.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 10:05 pm September 9, 2013 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

All contents copyright 2014, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^