Homeowners in Everett's valley view neighborhood believe changes the city made to the drainage system led to erosion during heavy rain storms and caused the massive landslide that is threatening more than a dozen homes.
According to the homeowners, the city refuses to help them. Now, they are going to court.
Jay Himmelman, who has a beautiful house with a great view of the Cascade Mountains, is one of the owner going to court. His mortgage is current and he's able to pay it, but he's seriously thinking about walking away.
"Walking from this house, I haven't actually figured out the details but that's one of the choices. What we're looking at is the hard choices,” Himmelman said.
Himmelman is thinking of walking away because he fears, one day his house will go the way of his neighbors down the ravine because of a slow and ongoing deep seated landslide.
"The city has advised they've done nothing wrong. There are no issues from their end and we're basically on our own,” Himmelman said.
Himmelman and 13 of his neighbors whose houses are also in jeopardy are bringing a lawsuit against the City of Everett.
They contend the City of Everett's storm drainage project in 2004 increased the drainage flow rate from the neighborhood without taking any measures to mitigate increased flow into the creek.
That, homeowners believe, led to erosion and the landslide.
The slide has already destroyed one house; another has been heavily damaged. Two families have already moved out and the hillside continues to slide.
The City of Everett has said it believes it is not at fault.
In a letter early this year, city engineer Ryan Sass wrote:
“Slope instability in the area occurred long before the 2004 storm drainage project. Geotechnical reports dating to the early 1980s document slope stability problems, landslides and unstable fill. We cannot participate in the restoration of private property.”
The homeowners don't disagree, but they say what's happening here is not an ordinary landslide.
"What this is, this is a deep seated landslide. This is a rotational deep down. It's a whole different creature,” Himmelman said.
Chuck Kinman is in the same boat.
He's owned his house for ten years and fears he will lose everything.
"We've kind of already lost our investment. These houses are worthless. We're just trying to keep a roof over our head. I mean there's no insurance protecting these houses. We've already lost quite a bit. Right now we're just trying to survive it,” Kinman said.
Himmelman and Kinman hope a lawsuit will force the city to help them, because if not the unthinkable could become reality."We're just normal people for the most part here. It's really ugly, the choices are all really ugly,” Himmelman said.