Better question...Who was the geologist that approved these structures?
Many comments say "buyer beware" or that the blame should be on the
buyers, inferring or outright accusing them of "not doing their
homework" or "being lazy," etc. While I can agree with those
sentiments to a point (like why do people in CA keep building and buying homes
in known mudslide and fire-prone areas), it should be the city's
responsibility to make sure that new development is safe. Why are we paying
property taxes for? I think that there should be a reasonable expectation that
if I'm buying such a major purchase as a home, it should be safe. After
all, consumer laws protect us from faulty smaller purchases. It will be
interesting to see the analysis of this. Maybe it was "just one of those
things" that the buyers should have been leery of. Maybe it was not a wise
decision to allow any building there at all.
To FordieI went back and checked Google Earth 1997 and later. You are
correct,the houses and the tennis club were indeed built not NEAR but IN the old
gravel pit. It is possible and even likely that the gravel removal and
subsequent reshaping contributed to the slope instability if the filled areas
were not properly compacted. However, gravel pits are not bad building sites if
the reclamation is done properly. There are no apparent old
landslides in any of the photos that I looked at though.
To FordieThe house collapsed because a landslide hit it and pushed it
over. Whether the house was built on fill or on solid rock had nothing to do
with the house collapsing. Where on Google Earth can you see that the landslide
site used to be a gravel pit? Can you please provide a link?
How soon they forget! Interestingly enough, if you check the historic images in
Google Earth for 1997, you'll see that this area is the southern end of a
reclaimed gravel pit. The material the house is built on is likely
unconsolidated fill material used to create the level home sites, with very
To Most Truthful and PatrioticYou have a most unique talent if you can see
from Google Earth that this area was obviously a "target of many other older
landslides." What is it that you see on Google Earth that shows the older
landslides? If you can explain the methodology in finding on Google Earth where
these landslides occurred then it could be a useful tool in preventing similar
catastrophes around the world. I don't know of any geologists or engineers
who are familiar with this technique. To JWBI was unaware
that someone mined gravel from the slide area and then filled it back in. What
makes you think someone did this? From the photos the slide material appears to
be native soil and not fill. What information do you have that is not in the
article that indicates it is a dangerous area in which to build?
How does it go? "A foolish man built his house upon the sand. "The winds
came up and the rains came down and the house on the sand fell down" "A
wise built his house upon a rock." I think their is wisdom to this.
Lesson from this:Before ANYONE buys a home, look at Google satellite view
of the neighborhood and any hillsides. The home that was destroyed was
obviously on land that was the target of many other older slides. How it got
sold to an immigrant family, NOT familiar with our area, should be the subject
of an investigation.ALSO: it's been noted that some residents
and a bishop were outside praying the night before the hillside slipped.
BUT...other residents (the Petersons) had no warning at all.How come SOME
people were out there, warned and praying...and others were ignored?
If it was a gravel pit, that is gravel. They put in different material in to
it. Gravel is what they took out. Why would they spend years taking out what
they would then fill in?
I disagree with most of the comments assessing blame for the slide. I have been
in the earthmoving business for over 40 years. No, gravel formations do not
become like ball bearings. Just the opposite is true. Gravel is used to provide
firm foundations upon which to build. Trees and alfalfa would do useless in
stopping this massive slide.Thousands of homes are built on
hillsides that are absolutely safe and more often safer than building down in
the more unstable lake bottom clay areas where in the event of an earthquake
liquefaction would cause untold damage.I would have never expected
this slide. Obviously the geotechnical engineers, the City nor anyone else
expected it except the people who commented that everyone should have known
better than to build there or that the developer only wanted to make money. How
do they know all of this? Such people are only showing their ignorance about
engineering science and business ethics. It will take some time before the cause
is determined.Why is everyone looking to blame someone? What if it
had been an earthquake that caused it? Maybe those who want to find someone to
blame should sue God.
re:HochmutI believe you are correct about home owners insurance not
paying. I lived in Cedar Hills when the same thing happend about 10 years ago
and the home owners had to file law suit's against the city and the
developer as well as get help from the Red Cross. It was a terrible mess.
The responsibility rests on the shoulders of the homeowners. It doesn't
take much homework to learn that things built on the mountainsides sometimes
slide down the mountainsides when it rains.
The builder and city should bear some responsibility for allowing homes to be
built in these dangerous areas, especially since the city and developer own
property there that impacts on the people's homes and families. However,
buyer beware because truth in real estate laws don't always protect the
buyer but mainly the developers and cities that grant the permits for building.
Buyers have all kind of impact fees they have to pay but these buyers
didn't think about the land impacting their house. They found out it
actually looks like a gravel pit where the dirt slid, sort of a cosmetic facade
"North Salt Lake residents 'coping' with loss and fear after
landslide"Just as others cope with loss and fear when they build
close to rivers and lakes.I do feel for these people, but where was
common sense when they bought that home? I've walked away from similar
homes that seemed like "good deals". However, the builder
and city should bear some responsibility for allowing homes to be built in these
dangerous areas. Has anyone ever noticed that city councils are often mostly
comprised of people who work in real estate?
Re JSBI have heard that alfalfa has roots that goes 30 feet deep and
it has been used to help stabilize ground. Certain trees would also probably
help a lot too.
When the water drains into that landfill area it will build into hydraulics that
will move mountains when it has weight above. South Mountain has many homes and
yards with deep piles and footings over their years. Views can be pretty but
like Angel's Landing but not for homes of significant size and no
longstanding landscape to help hold the foundation. In some places, hillsides
are where poor people live, not the rich. Location, location, location should
mean built on a strong foundation. Would you fly on an airplane that the crew
and engineering met some standards but not standards established by competent
authority. People expect government to provide for the safety and welfare of
society, not just to take money without providing services. We live in a
society where some top officials do not live by what they are sworn to do.
Integrity is a part of trusting our officials to do their job. Is there no
other way? If we want safety and the welfare of society, we need more than
bureaucrats. We need good elected officials to look out for us. That means
people need to vote in all e elections, mayor to President, including State.
it is not likely that deep root trees would solve this kind of massive slide.
Besides, when people decide to have a view of the entire world around them, they
do not want trees to impede this view. Views are,as this case proves, very
expensive and risky. There is nothing like a very stable, sound foundation
regardless of what it is. Many in our present generation is prone to risk taking
of every kind and there is a cost. Remember folks, we live on the Wasatch fault.
A lot of the foothills in the Wasatch Front is left over gravel from Lake
Bonneville. The "stair steps" of the lake fill are easy to spot from
across the valley. Since, it's mostly gravel, if it gets soaked, it's
like a pile of ball bearings. When I was a little boy(1949 I think), there was a
huge flood that washed out graves in the Salt Lake Cemetery. It helps so if
people will plant trees with good deep root systems. I understand they help
stabilize the ground. I'd like to see an article in Deseret News written by
a geologist that can give more insight into this problem and what can be done.
Sadly Homeowners insurance never covers this type of damage to a home; even
Earthquake doesn't coverr this. You can pay a significant premium on the
open market for "earth movement" coverage but rarely does anyone buy it
because of its cost;The Auto policy would cover a loss to a car that
might have been in the garage under Comprehensive, but homes built on hills and
slopes are not being covered or their contents. It is more than "buyer
beware" in buying a home with a view.
hopefully homeowners insurance will cover the full replacement cost of the homes
I had previously looked at buying homes in that area and at traverse mt and
chose to not buy in either location for this exact reason. The more I looked
around the more scared of slides I got.Best of luck to these people.
America has made freedom among its top ideals along with less government
regulation so that free enterprise can take risks and make money. However,
along with freedom comes responsibility, something many Americans have taken for
granted. Unfortunately, Americans seem to have less and less time to spend on
becoming informed so as to make good decisions. As our society becomes more
complex, Americans are going to have to decide how much they can be afford to
allow developers and corporations to put profit over the public interest and how
much government we need to ensure that the individual doesn't suffer
I agree with Melanna. It fits in with the old adage, "Let the buyer
beware." And by all means, be wary of developers, who will plan
sub-divisions anywhere a buck is to be made. That may have not happened here,
but someone wasn't using good judgment, and now several home-owners have a
big dilemma, or a ruined house, in one case. I am sorry for losses too.
Not to be cold, cruel, and heartless - but nevertheless sounding cold, cruel,
and heartless - this area has had landslides in the past, you can see the marks
of them on the hills. Why were developers allowed to build here and why would
people buy these homes? This landslide was not an unforeseen, unexpected
event.I'm sorry for the loss these people experienced, but it
could have been avoided.