Damage and debris caused by flooding (screenshot from Bellevue Police Department Twitter)

City reaches agreement with homeowners to demolish structure damaged by landslide

That home, and others in the neighborhood, had been deemed unsafe for families to return.

After weeks of close communications, the City of Bellevue has reached an agreement with the owners of a collapsed home badly damaged in a January landslide to allow a contractor to safely remove the home and recover any of the family’s property that can be safely salvaged.

Five other homes in the area remained “red-tagged,” with surrounding neighbors unable to return to their residences due to the unsafe structure in the immediate area. However, the City says the breakthrough agreement will allow work to begin to safely clear the site, with a start date in the upcoming weeks.

“I’m thankful both parties were able to find a way to provide an opportunity for the family to safely recover personal property,” said City Manager Brad Miyake. “Bellevue’s number-one priority throughout this process has been to keep the property owners and surrounding neighborhood safe, given the dangerous conditions. Our hearts go out to the family and the other impacted homeowners as they continue to deal with the aftermath of this unimaginable event.”

The agreement directs the city’s contractor to look for opportunities to salvage property, allow for the family to retrieve items outside of the demolition site, and make available to the family any vehicles recovered during the work.

Last week, due to the imminent danger of the site and the lack of progress on an agreement, the city began a legal action seeking permission from the court to access the property and secure it through demolition.

Both the city’s building official, as well as a private engineering firm, concluded that the house was unstable and could collapse at any time, posing a significant risk to people and other property. Because the city and family have reached this agreement, permission from the court is no longer necessary.

The event occurred in the early morning hours on Jan. 17, when neighbors reported water flowing down the hill and roadways in the area near 139th Place Southeast and Southeast 51st Place. When first responders arrived on scene, one of the homes had been hit by a landslide and partially collapsed with a homeowner and pet inside. Emergency responders helped residents from that home and 15 other homes nearby to leave the area safely.

An investigation of the cause is ongoing and will likely take months. Initial reports from first responders suggested that a water main may have broken to cause the flooding.

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