Patrick Robinson
File photo of a worker cleaning up the aftermath of a Beach Drive landslide in 2011.

Settlement reached in Beach Drive landslide lawsuit

An ordeal reaching back to 2007 has come to an end as the City Attorney's Office reached an agreement with a Beach Drive resident and his insurance company to pay for the repairs necessary to shore up a hillside and stop the threat of landslides.

Last year, 28 neighbors from the 5000 to 6000 blocks of Beach Drive S.W. filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and upslope resident Peter Saladino, based on the homeowner’s decision to build a retaining wall in a non-compliance area and the city’s delay in fixing, or have Saladino fix the problem. Inadequate drainage on Atlas Place S.W. above Beach Drive led to several overflowing drains that further destabilized the slope.

Mike Winter, a resident living below the slide prone area, addressed the Seattle City Council on January of last year, saying, “We live in constant fear of another event and worry not only for the safety of our adjoining neighbors … (but) the public who use the Beach Drive arterial on a daily basis. If we had even a minor earthquake during a period of heavy rains it could be disastrous.”

The agreement was reached on Wednesday night, Aug. 15.

“I am pleased to report that the City has resolved litigation and enforcement actions related to landslides in West Seattle above Beach Drive,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a statement. “Insurance monies and private funds will be used to construct deep retaining walls and a drainage system to stabilize the hillside. No city funds will be used to construct the project. The City has agreed to waive the majority of fines it sought in this action in exchange for the agreement by Peter Saladino to build the walls.”

The City Attorney’s office said the remediation project will cost more than $2 million and is currently under review by city departments, with construction expected to begin sometime in 2012.

Seattle has agreed to resurface a part of Beach Drive north of the slide area this year as well.

City councilmember Tom Rasmussen (who is also chair of the Transportation Committee), said, “The area near the slide on Beach Drive is in terrible condition and the agreement will allow the hillside to be repaired and Beach Drive to be repaired and repaved.”

Saladino’s decision to build the retaining wall exacerbated an existing condition that goes back to 1933, according to the lawsuit. At that time, the city widened Beach Drive, undercutting the slope between Atlas and the road below. Slides have occurred during heavy rains since that time.

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