Sinking, sliding house in Everett, Washington

Sinking, sliding house in Everett, Washington

When I checked out the news this morning, there was ANOTHER report of homes falling off bluffs. It seems that every week houses are either falling into giant sinkholes, or sliding off bluffs. The photo above is borrowed from King5 News, the website is

Another home on the brink

Another home on the brink

Does anyone else get this?  I had a long, unsatisfactory discussion with a friend many years ago on this topic. My argument was basically that homes should not be in the following locations:

  • On the ocean beach, i.e., on the sand or within a few feet of high tide
  • On bluffs
  • On the edge of a river
  • On a flat river plain
  • Within a few feet of a lake, i.e., within a couple of feet of the water surface
Flooding along the Skagit River in Washington State
Flooding along the Skagit River in Washington State

My opponents’ argument was that if it wasn’t safe, the city or county would not have permitted the construction and the insurance company would not have insured it.

My argument was, and still is, you have to use common sense in selecting a site for your home, and government agencies and insurance companies cannot be relied on to tell you that.

Her counter argument was that, “Well, they should be, so the responsibility for a house sliding off a bluff belongs with the insurance company and the permitting agency.”

Well all I could say to that was, if you make decisions based on what the government and an insurance company tells you is ok, then you are in deep doodoo. The world is not run on the basis of everyone cares about you and will do their best for you. You need to rely on your own intelligence to make decisions.

I personally think that people make decisions based on what they WANT; after all, view homes have to be built on bluffs, and so people will buy them. And every so often, they will slide down the hill, which they do with predictable regularity here in the Pacific Northwest after a long winter of rain loosens the soil. Besides, they cut down the trees so the view is better, and what is left to hold the dirt in place? Not much. 

My house? Not on a river or a bluff, and is 450 above sea level. Of course there are always fires . . . Come on, people, let’s work on that common sense thing . .

The hamster does her best.