A dozen men and women will study how to better avoid and respond to landslides such as the Oso landslide in Snohomish County that killed 43 people in March.
But the new commission won’t be determining who was accountable for the permitting and planning lapses that led up to the landslide.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who made the announcement Friday in Everett along with Snohomish County Executive John Lovick, said ultimately the courts will wind up deciding who was at fault.
“Our job moving forward is to improve safety,” he said.
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An investigation in June by The Seattle Times revealed that the developer for Steelhead Haven never filed a required flood-plain permit, which would have helped warn of the dangers.
And while at least one county official said after the disaster that “the slide came out of nowhere,” The Seattle Times this week documented slides (seati.ms/1ltf29N) in and around the area stretching back to1900.
At least 15 new claims — precursors to lawsuits — have been filed against the state and Snohomish County on behalf of landslide victims.
Members of the new commission weren’t saying much Friday about what aspects of the landslide and recovery they want to study.
“While I’m sure we each have preliminary thoughts about the questions and issues we need to examine, I think we’re all going into this with open minds,” wrote David Montgomery, a University of Washington professor on the commission, in an email.
Commission members Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan and Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau said they liked the idea of focusing on how to improve planning and disaster response.
Kathy Lombardo, who has worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will serve as the commission’s executive director.
Lombardo said at the announcement that she couldn’t think of any specific questions for the commission to study.
Another commission member, Bill Trimm, a former community development director of the city of Mill Creek, declined to comment.
The commission also includes: hydrogeologist Wendy Gerstel; Diane Sugimura, director of planning and development for Seattle; Greg Garcia, former fire chief of Pasco; Lee Shipman, Shoalwater Bay Tribe Emergency Management Director; former legislator Renee Radcliff Sinclair; Paul Chiles, former chair of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle; JoAnn Boggs, president of the state Emergency Management Association; and John Erickson, former state director of emergency preparedness.
Joseph O’Sullivan: 206-464-2201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Seattle Times archives is used in this story.