Snohomish County’s Planning Department drafted an official warning notifying Steelhead Drive residents that they were living in a potentially hazardous area.
That was seven years ago.
But property records reviewed by the KING 5 Investigators show that the “Glacier Peak Volcanic Hazard Area Disclosure Notice” was only issued once on Steelhead Drive – to one homeowner.
“What I think is there’s a failing of the system here somewhere,” said longtime Steelhead Drive homeowner Davis Hargrave.
He wonders why other residents weren’t getting word that the county was formally warning residents about potential risks.
The notice says a property is “within 200 feet of the Glacier Peak Volcanic Hazard Area, which is subject to periodic and potentially life threatening destructive med, water, and debris flows.”
The notice was signed by landowner Irvin Wood, who declined to speak with KING 5.
He and his wife purchased a manufactured home and had to get a permit to move it onto the Steelhead Drive property.
The Director of Snohomish County’s Planning Department said that was the only permit issued in the last seven years, and the notice is only required to be signed in advance of a building permit.
The notice was implemented after a slide near Steelhead in 2006 and an update to the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance in 2007, which mandated the notice.
But everyone else, from buyers of new homes to longtime residents like Hargrave, didn’t know of the formal notice or reports issued to the county that the hillside could be dangerous.
“If these conclusions could have prevented one person up there, one more survivor and they didn’t give it to us, then there’s fault,” said Hargrave.
Residents say the county never warned of any ongoing danger after the 2006 slide.
They took a cue from a construction project which continued, with the county’s blessing, right after the slide.
The permits were issued before the hazard disclosure notices became law, so the buyers of those seven homes were never warned.
One of them was a man who worked for the construction company Ridgewood Homes.
He said in a phone interview that the company was never told the area was unsafe.
He helped build the homes. Then he bought one.
The builder and his family were living on Steelhead Drive at the time of the landslide.
He step-son is now one of the missing.
"I wouldn't have left him there alone if I knew it wasn't safe," the man said.