County may ban homebuilding in landslide areas


by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News and Associated Press

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

Posted on April 23, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 23 at 10:24 AM

EVERETT, Wash.  -- Snohomish County council members are considering a moratorium on home construction within a half-mile of landslide prone areas, such as the Oso community hillside that collapsed March 22.

Councilman Dave Somers says the emergency ordinance would last six months and would not impact already permitted projects. The areas in question would be determined based on a county hazards report from 2010. 

It's estimated the moratorium would impact a massive area of rural Snohomish County where some 30,000 people already live.

There is already a 200-foot buffer zone in place around hazard areas.

Somers says because of several legal hurdles, the moratorium will likely be up for discussion for several weeks before a public hearing can be scheduled.
The Oso mudslide that has claimed 41 lives, with two people still missing, stretched more than a mile.

Related: Pres. Obama visits Oso, meets with families and responders

Related: Daughters of Oso victims give gift to Pres. Obama

Members of Washington's congressional delegation say the Federal Emergency Management Agency will give Snohomish County nearly $7.6 million as the first payment in a grant program that reimburses local governments for spending on recovery after federally declared disasters.

The payment from FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program was announced Tuesday as President Obama toured Oso mudslide site.

U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen say the money represents a 75 percent reimbursement for costs Snohomish County submitted to the federal government 30 days into the recovery effort.

County Executive John Lovick says he's "truly appreciative of this first installment of public assistance as we continue the important work ahead of us."

Related: Oso slide search team tracks down teen who wrote inspirational letter