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Cliff erosion threatens 4 Monterra homes

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by BRIAN GAWLEY
Sequim Gazette

A geotechnical engineer must examine what remains of the bluff north of Cypress Circle to determine whether as many as four homes must be abandoned.

An estimated 2,000 square feet of the bluff has eroded behind four homes on Cypress Circle in the Monterra subdivision northwest of Sequim.

The collapse began Monday morning, Feb. 1, just north of 162 Cypress Circle and quickly moved west past homes at 180, 192 and 200, taking a bench, decorative windmill and rose hedges with it.

Clallam County Fire District 3 personnel were called out to the subdivision nine miles from Sequim about 10 a.m. Monday. They taped off the backyards of the four homes and contacted the sheriff’s department, which in turn contacted Clallam County building official Leon Smith.

Keeps on sliding
Overnight Monday it began again, sending a large tree down the cliff onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca shoreline.

Tuesday afternoon, the erosion had advanced an estimated 40 feet to within 25 feet of the back porch at 192 Cypress Circle, where Roger and Virginia Huntman have lived for 10 years.

The land is in the commons area of Monterra, owned jointly by homeowners. The subdivision is limited to residents aged 50 and older.

Huntman said Smith told him to hire a geotechnical engineer to examine the cliff because the erosion may have advanced close enough to threaten his house.

Huntman said there’s been occasional erosion since they bought the house in 2000, but this took an estimated 200 square feet in one swoop, including a tree from which he used to hang his hammock.

He tied a line to a tree with the idea of rappeling down the cliff to investigate the damage, but the tree fell down the cliff before he could try it.

“It sounds like a truck rumbling by, but it’s just nature taking its course,” he said.

‘Act of God’
His insurance company classifies it as “an act of God” so it isn’t covered, Huntman said.

Virginia Huntman estimated the erosion had advanced to within 25 feet of their home’s back porch.

“If any more gives way, I’m leaving,” she said.

“The bank can have the house.”

The Huntmans moved here from California, where they survived the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Steve Vogel, chief of Clallam County Fire District 3, said the erosion probably was within 20 feet of the house, not 25.

No house has gone over a bluff in the 28 years he’s lived here, but 20 years ago one on Bluff Drive almost did, Vogel said.

The Monterra Homeowners Association held its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, Feb. 3, and the circle, or neighborhood, representatives met on Friday, Feb. 5, to discuss expediting tree removal along the bluff to help stem the erosion.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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