Landslide Hazard Area
Snohomish County updated its Critical Area Regulations CAR in September 2015. This update included changes to the definition of a landslide hazard area and to the development regulations addressing landslide hazard areas. The updates to regulations in landslide hazard areas are located in Chapter 30.62B SCC - Geologically Hazardous Areas.
Development activities are not allowed in landslide hazard areas unless certain criteria are met and no other alternative is available. A geotechnical evaluation and analysis is required of the landslide hazard area in proximity to new development activity. There are also notice, disclosure, and covenant requirements for development activities in a landslide hazard area.
The Washington Geological Survey and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries have created a handout that defines and explains landslides. You can find it here.
Find answers to some key questions about landslide hazard areas below. If you have any questions, please contact the Snohomish County Planning and Development Services Permit Center at (425) 388-3311.
What is a landslide hazard area?
Landslide hazard areas are lands that are subject to mass earth movement due to a combination of geologic, topographic, and hydrologic factors with a vertical height of 10 feet or more. The criteria that defines a landslide hazardous area includes land within a distance from the top of the slope equal to the height of a slope or within a distance of the toe of the slope equal to two times the height of the slope.
The full definition of a landslide hazard areas can be found in SCC 30.91L.04. Click the image to the right for a larger version.
Where are landslide hazard areas?
Snohomish County has developed new maps based on the updated definition, showing areas of the County that could be a potential landslide hazard area. The County may also determine that a property is within a landslide hazard area if the property has features that meet the definition of landslide hazardous areas.
How to I find out if my property is in a landslide hazard area?
Click on the picture to the left to go to our Landslide Hazard Area Map Series to determine if your property is in the landslide hazard area. Users can further explore landslide data and maps by utilizing our PDS GIS page. This page includes links to our interactive maps, downloadable products, map services and other county GIS products.
The maps are for informational purposes only. All parcels that are identified as being in a potential landslide hazard area must be verified by Planning and Development Services staff.
The map is based on the adopted definition SCC 30.91L.040. The map utilizes elevation values, slope angles and steep slopes over 30%. Limitations on geologic data may affect the accuracy of the map. Not all factors (seeps, geologic contacts, unstable soils) that could constitute a potential landslide hazard can be mapped on a county wide basis.
Areas that may be mapped as a landslide hazard area may have site specific conditions that would exclude them from being considered a landslide hazard area (e.g., The site may have steep slopes but is underlain by bedrock). Planning and Development Services will verify the site conditions and will update the map.
A site inspection may indicate that there are geologic factors where staff may determine that a parcel is within a landslide hazard area, even if it is not shown on the map. [See SCC 30.62B.390]
What if my property is within a landslide hazard area?
- Planning and Development Services will verify that the proposal is or is not within a landslide hazard area.
- Development is not allowed in a landslide hazard area unless there is no other location and the conditions of SCC 30.62B.340(1) are satisfied.
- If the property is partially within the landslide hazard area, development may occur on that portion of the property outside of the landslide hazard area.
- A rigorous geotechnical evaluation, report and analysis of the landslide hazard area is required. [SCC 30.62B.140] The site specific geotechnical report will identify what mitigation measures are needed if construction is allowed within the landslide hazard area.
- Before any permits can be issued, a covenant that runs with the land must be recorded that states that the property is within a landslide hazard area, describes the hazards, and the owner accepts the responsibility for the risks, informs future purchasers, and provides indemnification. [SCC 30.62B.160(4)]
What if my property is near a shoreline?
The new regulations for landslide hazard areas do not apply within Shoreline Jurisdiction.
Properties that are within Shoreline Jurisdiction are subject to the provisions of the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The State Department of Ecology has approval authority of the SMP, which includes critical areas regulations as applied to properties subject to the SMP.
Shoreline Jurisdiction includes all marine waters, segments of stream where the mean annual flow is more than 20 cubic feet per second, lakes and reservoirs over 20 acres and greater in area, associated wetlands and shore lands adjacent to these water bodies. This is typically land area within 200 feet of the water body.
The critical area regulations that apply to properties within Shoreline Jurisdiction were adopted in 2007 and are referenced in Chapter 30.67 SCC (Shoreline Management Program). To determine which regulations apply to properties within Shoreline Jurisdiction, please refer to:
“Critical areas located within Shoreline Jurisdiction are subject to the regulations contained in chapters 30.62A, 30.62B and 30.62C as adopted by Amended Ordinance No. 06-061 on August 1, 2007 and 30.65 SCC as adopted by Amended Ordinance No. 07-005 on February 21, 2007, except as modified by .” (2)
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