Update: Beach Drive slide scene open to traffic again

11:54 AM: That’s video of work being done at the slope with the slide that shut down Beach Drive in the 6000 block – south of there, it’s closed to the Lowman Beach intersection (as first reported here very early this morning), since there are no outlets. SDOT told us at the scene at midmorning that they needed to evaluate the stability of the top of the slope before figuring out what needed to be done to stabilize it, and how soon the road could be reopened. Note that Route 37 buses are being detoured TFN. We’re continuing to check with SDOT for the latest and will add updates as we get them. 2:02 PM UPDATE: Just checked the scene. Road’s still closed, and as some have noted, the tricky thing is that there is no signage at Jacobson, which is the last place to head east/uphill before the closure – so we’re seeing many people drive all the way up to the closure, be surprised, and turn around to head back. Here’s the latest from Marybeth Turner at SDOT:

The urban forestry crews expect to wrap up, and then we will clean up and set up traffic control to reopen Beach Drive, except for restriction to one lane at slide site. Goal is to reopen by 5 pm. We will continue to monitor the site through the weekend.

5:29 PM UPDATE: The road’s open again, per the Metro alert that says 37 and 53 are back on their regular routes.

10 Replies to "Update: Beach Drive slide scene open to traffic again"

  • Connie January 13, 2010 (5:00 pm)

    Not surprised!!!!

    Just another seattle property fallen prey to the three, “urban forest prostitutes”. Laurel,Holly $ Ivy. Three very expensive babes.

    Probably brought there cousin “wild clematis” along with them.

    These invasives do not help prevent erosion.

    They encourage it by keeping native plants that
    do help with erosion from regenerating.

    Might be less expensive and less dangerous to
    remove them and replant with strong deep rooted
    natives than to risk dangerous and expensive

    Just a rain drenched thought.

  • lina January 13, 2010 (6:54 pm)

    I agree with Connie. Much of the restoration work being done by the city and local non- profits in parks is focused on invasive plant removal, replanting with native plants and erosion control. In the long run- restoration is the best preventative action to control erosion, pollution in storm water run-off, sewer capacity-the list goes on. Emphasis and dollars should continue to be put towards green infrastructure. Work also needs to be continued on private and right of way property by private residents. Want to learn more – volunteer in one of your local parks and learn about the benefits of healthy, functioning urban forests.

  • Steve Richmond January 13, 2010 (8:58 pm)

    Most slides happen because trees were cut for a view, then shallow-rooted ivy and blackberry prevented anything with significant roots from naturally regenerating – leaving little to hold the soil when rain lubes and weights the slope. If you’re on a slide-prone slope, wait to take out invasives (holly, laurel, ivy), as bad as they are, until you have native trees/shrubs established to take their place (this can take 3-5 years). You can buy bareroot native plants for about a buck each in bundles of 5 at http://www.kingcd.org/ (order before Jan 30).

  • sillygoose January 14, 2010 (8:47 am)

    Too bad so sad DPD, and developers know that these area’s are prone to slides but their money hungry ways make them put on blinders to these unsafe possibilities and they develope these dangerous areas regardless. Now the home owners want the city to foot the bill for a retaining wall. That should be the property owners responsibility. You chose to build in a dangerous area you need to guarantee to those below you that your greed of a view won’t harm those below you!!

  • Ned January 14, 2010 (9:19 am)

    FYI, the link to the story on the sidebar redirects to the original closure story, not this one.

  • Hal Snyder January 14, 2010 (9:22 am)

    I started looking in to geeting rid of the ivy on our portion of the hill overlooking Beach Dr. I found out that even though the plants I want to remove and replace are on the noxious weed list, a permit is required (not really a bad thing, especially on the slopes). Along with this, there is alot of help and information available from the Seattle permits office. Good people to work with.

  • Eliza January 14, 2010 (9:36 am)

    I saw the king 5 report on this last night and it said the homeowner, when he bought the house above this hill, told the city he wanted to build a cement retaining wall as an added precaution and that he wanted to pay for it. The city told him no, not necessary and please don’t.
    Let’s not just jump to place all the blame on the owners, the city did give the permits to build in that space. Some responsibility lies with the city and they should pay for some of the repairs.

  • sliding nulu January 14, 2010 (11:12 am)

    Blame developers.
    Connie, Steve & that sillygoose, how can you assign such blame?

    CLASS WARFARE in West Seattle raises its ugly jealous head in lockstep.
    Tree Lovers (er, those without a view) verses View Lovers (er, those with a view).
    This is often a bottom of the hill vs. top of the hill or even one side or end of a street against the other.
    I live on the top and had a deal with a bottom to window his trees (by a Plant Amnesty Arborist, no less) in exchange for him using some of our property for his dog and kids. After we paid for a couple of $800 trims that also made his trees safer and healthier, he demanded that we give him our property in exchange for any more trims.
    Care to guess where our blamers reside?
    Blame DPD? DPD’s incredibly baroque, exhaustively, inpenetrable Critical Areas Code can make new development in these areas impossible without actually improving the stability of the hillside.
    How do I know?

    I am one of those “greedy” developers, but I pride myself in my hillside work.
    A DPD official once warned against development in Critical Areas, joking, “it’s like jumping into the blender, right nulu?”
    I can attest, it is worse.
    One year ago DPD banned all new development in Steep Slopes. It is still possible to develop but one must first go through the added expense of a variance.
    Costs are astounding.
    Critical Areas development requires lots of specialists; surveyors, core sampling, geotechnical engineers, civil engineers, drainage engineers, structural engineers, arborists, permit specialists, botanists, independent testing experts and architects. Many of these people live in our community. I use a civil engineer who lives near Lohman Bch, an architect who is a neighbor in Gatewood and a geotechnical engineer who lives in Arbor Heights.
    All of these experts, prepare comprehensive reports and plans which are submitted to DPD, SDOT, Water & Power.
    At this point costs are counted in the tens of thousands of dollars and you have no certainty of success.
    DPD charges $1250 up front as minimum and the developer has to agree to pay DPD $250 per hour, with no limit, for each of the various review technicians.
    After a few more bureaucratic rounds with DPD and spiraling costs, you might get a variance.
    Finally a developer is at the stage that most others start at, ready to get a building permit.
    But wait, there are scores of additional stipulations, costs, time delays, and inspections of every sort that apply to Critical Areas.
    Anyone who has dealt with DPD in the Critical Areas Code knows this nightmare scenario.
    DPD has also been very sensitive to the “connies, steves and sillygeese” by tightening up the regulations with each outcry – several times in the last dozen years.
    Beyond scapegoating the DPD and Developers, have these blamers ever walked in Lincoln Park? Ever been out in the undeveloped areas of Puget Sound bluffs?
    Somehow without the DPD & greedy developers, before invasive blackberries, holly, laurel and ivy, our hillsides were sliding. They are sliding now and will be sliding in the future.
    Just take a walk in the park.
    Another West Seattle ugliness pops up in regards to DPD and Greedy Developers. It is NIMBYism.
    I got mine, now you can’t get yours. It’s ok to dump my stuff and lawn clippings on this vacant lot, just don’t clean it up and make it someone else’s home.
    See all of those old houses at the top and bottom of the hill? They are no longer to code and would not be allowed to be built now because they contribute higher risk than new ones. Do those established homeowners upgrade their property? No it is easier to blame DPD & Greedy Developers.
    In fact if you are in an established house, you do not even have to comply with the Critical Areas Code with various free exemptions available from DPD.
    That is, of course, if the homeowner goes the route of getting a permit. Why bother? Enforcement is lax.
    Inspectors are not allowed on your property to investigate.
    And a formal complaint must be submitted to DPD, which may go nowhere besides the violator becoming angry suspicious neighbors. This I know.

  • Hal Snyder January 14, 2010 (12:24 pm)

    Sliding nulu,and others

    Lot’s of hoops! The soil along that area is scary, it can hold an emense amount of water. And for the native plant people… I am all for resotring native plants and fully intende to do so, but Douglas Fir is not deep rooted and does not serve well to hold a hillside. English Ivy (if you have ever removed it to the last root), has an extensive and interlaced root system that does tend to hold a hill, to a point. So, plants can help, either native or invasive, but… a good engineered retaining system is better. Especially where a road cut (Beach Dr) has steepened the foot of the hill…
    In defense of developers (which I am not)… most of the houses along here seem to be either old or remodeled, not much really new construction, so maybe you can blaim developers 20 years ago for some of the problems, but it is mostly the nature of the soil… eventually, every steep slope on this soil will slide unless you build something to stop it.

  • Les Treall January 14, 2010 (8:29 pm)

    As a person who has been fixing landslides since 1985, I want to say that the slides are not caused by tree removal or pruning. Trees don’t prevent landslides. They can help minimize erosion, but if the land is sliding, the trees are riding with it.
    I’m not a developer and I’m not an engineer. I’m a builder that specializes in steep slope construction. I fixed my first landslide in 1985, and have lost track of how many I’ve fixed, but I’m sure it’s more than 100.
    Landslides are caused by any combination of: the geologic composition of the region, the gradient of the site, the amount of water traveling through the soil and gravity. Of these, water is the primary variable. If water gets into the soil faster than it can get out, it builds in pressure until at some point the pressure is enough to lift the soil above it, removing any friction or cohesion, and gravity does the rest. Soil, trees, rockeries, even entire houses, can be pushed away.
    The way we stabilize a slide is to make it easy for water to get out by puting in deep drains, reducing the gradient, and putting the soil in compression (putting a wall at the bottom for the soil to push against). By using these methods in a variety of configurations, my company has fixed slides throughout the Seattle area, including the one a block to the north.
    Sliding nulu is pretty much correct. Getting permits to work on these steep sites is exasperating even for remedial work. DPD restricts the area of disturbance for new construction pretty much to the foot print of the buildng. Even when the adjacent areas are known to have slid. By limiting the area that can be worked they are putting people at risk. They say this is to prevent erosion, but really it is to keep trees. The ECA evolved out of the old greenbelt laws that were declared unconstitutional because they took away the use of property without compensation.
    The city wants to save trees. They look nice, offer some shade, and probably remove some carbon, and people get attached to them. I like trees too, but when they are growing on steep slopes that were disturbed 100 years ago when there were no regs, they become a hazzard. They can fall over and hit someone or, in an actual landslide, they ride with the moving mass and become battering rams.
    I think the city would be much better to allow, or even require that in new construction, the entire lot be cleared and stabilized before the structures go in, and when construction is complete, trees can be planted that will have a chance to stick around a few hundred years.
    Additionally the city should require a specialty contractors license, as they do for side sewer contractors, to do construction on these sites. They have special insurance requirements now. I would also consider requiring developers to post a long term bond to pay for repairs in future, because not all developers take pride in the sucess of their projects. In custom homes, the owners have an obvious interest in doing it right, but do not always have the financial resourses, and in some cases they don’t care either.
    I don’t believe that every steep slope should be developed, and I’m often appalled by the size of some of the houses I’ve helped to build. I do believe that if the slopes are developed, they should be completely stabilized to the best of our abilities, before structures are built. I also would rather have these sites built on, and density increased, than have these folks buy 10 acres in Kittitas Co. and build a house in the elk winter habitat, and then commute to Seattle daily. I wish our population wasn’t continuing to grow, but it is, and I would rather the people live in the cities than the rural areas.
    I started this because so many folks believe that trees prevent landslides. The city has been telling anyone who would listen that this is true, for about 20 years. If you step back from our intrinsic love of trees, you can realize that trees are one of natures wrecking balls. They can split rock by sending roots into a tiny crack, and then growing and growing until the rock falls in two. They can surely send roots into the most dense soils and break it up.

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