Filling in the steep-slope equation

To build or not to build—that is the question. Activists say danger lurks on these steep slopes, and they have pictures to prove it. Developers say OK, but cost trumps safety. Developers and their local political enablers say there have been few deaths and not that much property destruction, and the cost of pre-construction site surveys to determine safety are not cost-effective.

What is missing in this debate? The inclusion of arguably the most important party: the property owner. Has anybody who presumes to speak to the interests of the buyer actually asked any buyers how they feel about having to add $2,000 or $3,000 to the cost of building, to ensure that they can make an informed decision about safe building concerns.

Is it reasonable to believe that someone willing to spend [from] $300,000 to a million or more dollars for a new home would chose to ignore the benefits of a site-specific survey and steep-slope ordinances that might well result in safer construction of the home? If this information could be had for a few thousand dollars, are we to believe that developers and Realtors are working in the best interests of their clients when they suggest that these very same clients should be kept unaware of the dangers that could be avoided by a site-specific geologic survey?

The truth of the matter is much simpler than any interest in the client’s needs. The fact is that these steep-slope ordinances would result in some property being deemed not safe to sell or develop.

Imagine that: unsafe to develop. Do you think that this information might just be of interest to the prospective buyer? Outrageous is the only word that can be used to describe the self-serving choice of developers, Realtors and numerous political hacks working in concert to keep this information as far away from the prospective buyer as possible. Why would they do this? Greed … plain and simple greed. That very same business model that is responsible for our current economic downhill slide.

— Rick and Lynne Vogel
Mars Hill

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