Mukilteo residents still cut off 6 months after landslide

A slide blocked the roadway to a Mukilteo home six months ago, and it still hasn't been fixed.

A hillside gave way over the winter blocking the only legal way in and out of Ken Livingston's Mukilteo home.

He figured the city would clear it within a few days. That was six months ago.

"It's not right," he said. "The city has an obligation to protect the community and to keep public roads open."

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Landslides are nothing new along the stretch of 61st Place West in the city's Smuggler's Gulch neighborhood. What is new is how long this one has taken to clear.

"It's kind of an unbelievable situation," said Livingston.

Engineers determined the slope was and still is too dangerous for anyone to clear the road. The city closed it to all traffic.

Officials even sent letters to the four homes impacted saying not even firefighters or medics would be allowed to use the road.

"I'm 71 years old," said Livingston. "I really like having emergency services available."

There is a private road that connects to the neighborhood, but after six months, the people who pay to maintain it are growing weary of the situation as well.

With no other options, Livingston and his neighbors grabbed their shovels and cleared one lane of the debris so they could get in and out. They routinely have to move "road closed" signs that the city has put up.

A clearly frustrated Public Works Director Mick Matheson said Mukilteo is now involved in a dispute with the owner of the home where the slide happened. Each side says the other is responsible for the mess with the Livingstons stuck, quite literally, in the middle.

"We understand it creates a hardship for the residents that rely on this road for access to their homes, but it's a very dangerous situation," said Matheson.

The attorney for the owner of the land where the slide happened said whoever built the road below is responsible, whether it's Mukilteo or Snohomish County. He added the city's right of way extends into the slide zone. He also said the city is threatening to sue the property owner, calling the land a "public nuisance."

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Matheson said the danger zone that needs to be fixed is beyond that right of way, and if city workers were to touch that land they would be trespassing.

As summer turns to what will be another wet winter, Matheson said it isn't a matter of if, but when another slide happens along 61st Place.

"It's undetermined when that road will reopen," he said.

"Now we've got lawyers talking to lawyers, so who knows when this will ever get resolved," said Livingston.