Whatcom County is in the process of updating its critical areas ordinance. Two committees are contributing to this process: a technical advisory committee and a citizens advisory committee. The topic of the citizen’s April 15 meeting was geologically hazardous areas. Dan McShane, geologist, former county councilor, and technical board member asked: “What level of risk are we as a community willing to accept?” My answer is zero. Think Oso.
Geologically hazardous areas include: landslide hazard areas, volcanic hazardous areas and frequently flooded areas. If a landowner is willing to gamble and develop in a geologically hazardous area, that is their right. However, when they decide to sell, full disclosure of the geological hazard(s) noted on the parcel and title will ensure that a buyer is made aware of these hazards before he or she purchases a property situated in these potentially unstable areas. A notice on parcel and title for geologically hazardous areas and all other critical areas would serve the public’s interest by protecting critical areas and ensuring that buyers can make informed decisions before purchases.
No one should buy property before visiting the county’s planning department to learn about geological hazards and the other critical areas that may be present.