Event Detail

Do Slope Protective Ordinances Really Protect?

Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm

Using case studies, we will examine whether slope protective ordinances intended to protect property actually provide the intended protection or do they simply provide a false sense of safety to building officials and property owners.

A slope failure in one of the communities in the Chagrin River Valley in the early 1990s damaged a privately-owned structure. The cost of remedial measures was much greater than what most communities and property owners could manage. This prompted the community to enact a slope protective ordinance. Other towns and villages along the valley quickly followed suit enacting similar ordinances. The stated purpose and justification for these ordinances is to protect public safety, property, and the environment. Various methods are used to define protected areas which are essentially "no build zones" on parcels with steep slopes.

As the case studies illustrate, sloping sites are too varied, and conditions that control slope stability are too complex, to be addressed by including a few generic requirements in municipal ordinances. Such ordinances understandably avoid codifying minimum factors of safety, or dictating what is required for a proper geotechnical evaluation of a sloping site. Whether these ordinances are successful in achieving their goal depends on enforcement and the skill and experience of those tasked with complying with the provisions of the ordinances.



Alan J. Esser, PE, D.GE — SME

Alan J. Esser, PE, D.GE is a Vice President, and Chief Consultant with SME in Cleveland, Ohio. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Cleveland State University, and a M.S. in Structural Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Arizona. He is a registered Professional Engineer in six states and is a Diplomate in the Academy of Geo-Professionals. He serves on four ASTM committees and is a member of the Geo-Institute Committee on Embankments, Dams and Slopes. Mr. Esser has taught undergraduate and graduate courses as an adjunct, and has been teaching basic and advanced PE review courses for more than 20 years. He has more than 40 years of geotechnical engineering experience specializing in slope stability, shear strength of soils, geotechnical instrumentation, and laterally loaded foundations. He has authored eleven publications.


6:00 - 6:30 PM: Registration and Social

6:30 - 7:30 PM: Dinner

7:30 - 8:30 PM: Presentation

8:30 - 9:00 PM: Closing Statements and Social


Sleepy Hollow Golf Course


Taco buffet

Cash Bar


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