North Salt Lake residents 'coping' with loss and fear after landslide

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  • Hank Jr Draper, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    Better question...Who was the geologist that approved these structures?

  • gittalopctbi Glendale, AZ
    Aug. 9, 2014 3:43 a.m.

    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.

  • San Diego Orem, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 4:01 p.m.

    To Fordie
    I 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.

  • San Diego Orem, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 2:02 p.m.

    To Fordie
    The 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?

  • Fordie40 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 1:31 p.m.

    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 little compaction.

  • San Diego Orem, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 12:44 p.m.

    To Most Truthful and Patriotic
    You 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 JWB
    I 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?

  • mightyhunterhaha Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 12:31 p.m.

    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.

  • Most Truthful and Patriotic Layton, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:54 a.m.

    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?

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    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?

  • San Diego Orem, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:24 a.m.

    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.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 9:58 a.m.


    I 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.

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    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.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 8:42 a.m.

    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 from movies.

    Aug. 7, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    "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?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 7:45 a.m.

    Re JSB

    I 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.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 6:34 a.m.

    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.

  • Elcapitan Ivins, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 5:54 a.m.

    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.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 6, 2014 5:45 p.m.

    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.

  • Hochmut West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 4:24 p.m.

    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.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    hopefully homeowners insurance will cover the full replacement cost of the homes ??

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    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.

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 12:08 p.m.

    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 unnecessarily.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Aug. 6, 2014 12:07 p.m.

    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.

  • Melanna Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 6, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    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.