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Geo Hazard Mapping Initiative

The City of Kirkland Geo Hazard Mapping Initiative

Washington State is one of the most landslide-prone areas in the country and has the second highest risk of large and damaging earthquakes in the United States. King County and the Puget Sound Basin are especially vulnerable. But it was the massive Oso landslide in March of 2014, which destroyed or damaged 49 homes and claimed the lives of 43 people that convinced City of Kirkland officials that more must be done to protect our community.

The City is embarking on a focused effort to update our mapping and development standards for public and private development projects in geologically hazardous areas (landslide, erosion and seismic activity).

The City's website contains a map depicting Seismic Hazards and Landslide and Erosion Hazards. This map is a general guide to indicate the likely presence of unstable conditions, but it was created in the early 1990’s, The City’s Zoning Codelinks to external site (Chapter 85) regulates development within seismic, landslide and erosion hazard areas. These regulations require that a proposed project is studied by a qualified geotechnical expert and recommendations are developed to address risk. But more needs to be done. 

The Kirkland City Council recognized the need to update and expand these maps and has provided funding to create state-of-the-art hazard maps and data for the entire City.  The City is now working with a team of scientists with the University of Washington’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences, GeoMapNW Center to expand on previous information with a new integrated mapping approach to understand potential hazard areas. 

Now, the City is asking for your help to ensure the most comprehensive information is available for the new Geo hazard mapping system. Property owners, decision makers and emergency managers will have a better understanding of the risks associated with these areas.

We’ve created a survey page where it is easy for you to go in and report on: 

  • previous landslide activity
  • ground or building cracks
  • groundwater seepage
  • any geotechnical reports you may have on your property

If you have knowledge or information that would be helpful in furthering this initiative, please participate.

The new integrated mapping approach will improve the quality of public and private development. City engineers and planners will use this information for projects like suitability studies, infiltration analysis, seismic hazard assessments, hazard mitigation strategies, and prioritizing facility upgrades.  

The City’s mission is to create a safe community, increase our scientific knowledge and minimize the risks to property and life. With your help, we can do this together.

For more information contact Jeremy McMahan, Development Review Manager at (425) 587-3229, jmcmahan@kirklandwa.gov or Paul Stewart, Deputy Director at (425) 587-3227, pstewart@kirklandwa.gov.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources also has information regarding geology and landslide hazardslinks to external site.  

Planning & Building Department
123 5th Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033

General Inquiries:
Building Questions
Building_Services@kirklandwa.gov
Planning Questions
PlanningInfo@kirklandwa.gov
T. 425.587.3600 | F. 425.587.3232