Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Editorial: Utah law should crack down on unsafe building sites

Utah should limit hillside building.

First Published Aug 11 2014 07:56 pm • Last Updated Aug 12 2014 11:04 am

People who like to build houses on the sides of mountains are like people who like to keep tigers as domestic pets. They are beautiful and, if anything, the inherent danger just makes them more so.

It doesn’t always end well.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But, while government’s ability to protect the would-be Siegfrieds and Roys among us from themselves is limited, state and local officials should be doing more to make sure that people don’t, er, sink their life savings into a property that is likely to collapse into a soggy heap of rubble.

The history of the Wasatch Front is littered with cases where homes, apartments and other buildings slid down an embankment, or were destroyed by a landslide of the dirt that had been further up the hill.

The most recent happened just last week, as one home in the Eagleridge neighborhood of North Salt Lake was destroyed, and other properties severely damaged or evacuated, by a landslide.

Even though the neighborhood’s developers — Sky Properties — built the homes and other buildings on the side of a hill that had once been a gravel quarry, a hill composed of a now-obviously unstable mix of clay, silt and sand, those developers hired some experts to present a report to the city of North Salt Lake finding the area suitable for building. The city, unable or unwilling to do its own research, took the developer’s word for it.

In hindsight, it seems that accepting a safety certification from a firm that was in the employ of developers who wanted a particular finding amounts to municipal malpractice.

Local governments have the duty of laying out zoning laws and development standards designed to, among other things, ensure that people aren’t buying and selling homes that are firetraps or otherwise a danger to their occupants and to their neighbors.

North Salt Lake is not the only Utah city that should learn to be more proactive, commissioning truly independent examinations of hillsides and mountaintops so that, long before someone walks in with a building permit application, relevant officials know what areas are safe, and what constitutes the definition of "safe enough," for the disruptive activities associated with homebuilding.

And, although a body so heavily influenced by the real estate and contractor sectors may be loathe to do it, the Utah Legislature should help cities with expertise, money and, most of all, laws that allow limits on slope-side buildings.


story continues below
story continues below

Lest more homeowners get mauled by their own tigers.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.