Flood Hazard Control Regulation Update

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for San Juan County in December, 2017. In order to continue participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the County’s flood hazard regulations and maps must be updated by June 20th,2018.

FIRMs identify and delineate San Juan County’s Special FloodHazard Areas (SFHAs). SFHA’s are those areas with a one (1%) percent chance of inundation in any given year, also known as the ‘100-year flood plain.’

Next Steps: 



April 20, 2018,Planning Commission Briefing:

Staff Memo: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/14848

Draft Regulations: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/14847

April 24, 2018,County Council meeting to discuss a public hearing date for the flood hazard reduction regulation update:

Staff Transmittal Memo: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/14851

Staff Memo to Planning Commission: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/14848

Draft Regulations sent to Planning Commission: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/14847

Public Hearings: 

A public hearing with the Planning Commission is scheduled for 9 a.m., May 18, 2018 in the Council Chambers at 55 Second Street, Friday Harbor, WA, 98250. Interested parties are encouraged to attend and submit written or oral comments.

Staff Report: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/15131/2018-05-03_DCD_Maycock_PC_Public_hearing_Staff_signed

Public Hearing Draft Ordinance: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/15132/2018-05-02_DCD_Maycock_Ordinance_-PC-Public_Hearing_Draft_Flood_Hazard

The official comment period is from May 2, to May 18, 2018. Please address comments to colinm@sanjuanco.com and please put “Flood hazard reduction regulations” in the subject line. Please submit email comments by 1 p.m., May 17 to ensure the Planning Commissioners have an opportunity to read them prior to the meeting.

Written comments submitted on the day of the hearing are welcome. Please bring 15 copies.

Background to Flood Hazard Reduction Regulation Update: 

Changing the flood hazard reduction regulations are one part of a multi-year Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) process to update the County’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps. This process has included substantial consultation with local representatives. A brief overview of FEMA flood insurance update process is available here: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/14845

In February 2017, the County issued an administrative determination that the Department of Community Development would use the updated Flood Rate Insurance Maps when reviewing projects involving new construction or substantial improvements to existing structures in areas of special flood hazard. Administrative determination BP-2017-01_FloodHazDet is available here: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/1672

The updated SFHA’s have been a selectable layer within the critical areas submenu in the County’s Polaris mapping system since early 2017. Polaris is available here: https://sjcgis.org/polaris/

The Council was briefed on the proposed flood hazard reduction regulations update in March, 2018. 

Staff memo to the County Council for the ‘first touch’ discussion on March 27, 2018: http://sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/14852

Updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps:

Unlike the 1977 Flood Hazard Boundary Maps (FHBMs)—(which identified one (1) category of Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) in the County), —the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) identify and map three (3) categories of SFHA in the County. New and substantially improved structures within the different SFHAs are subject to both general and specific construction regulations. The updated FIRMs have mapped the following special flood hazard areas in the County:

A: Areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event, also known as the “100-year floodplain,” using   approximate methodologies. Because detailed hydraulic analyses have not been performed, no Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) or flood depths are shown. Properties in SFHA zone A are considered to be at a high risk of flooding under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood insurance is required for all properties with federally backed mortgages. Construction in this area must meet the flood hazard reduction regulations. New and substantially improved structures will be required to establish BFE’s, obtain elevation certificates, and conform with flood hazard reduction regulations.

AE: Areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event, also known as the “100-year floodplain,” and establish predicted floodwater levels a.k.a. the BFE. Properties in SFHA zone AE are considered to be at high risk of flooding under the NFIP. Flood insurance is required for all properties in the AE zone with federally backed mortgages. New and substantially improved structures will be required to conform with flood hazard reduction regulations.

 VE: Areas subject to inundation by the1-percent-annual-chance flood event, also known as the “100-year floodplain,” with additional hazards due to storm-induced velocity wave action. BFEs derived from detailed hydraulic analyses are shown on the FIRMs. Properties in VE are considered to be at very high risk of flooding and flood related damage under the NFIP. Flood insurance is required for all properties with federally backed mortgages. New and substantially improved structures will be required to conform to flood hazard reduction regulations.

Since February, 2017, the County has been using the draft FIRMs when reviewing applications and determining whether new construction and substantial improvements are within the special flood hazard areas and required elevation.

The County’s updated SFHA’s have been a selectable layer within the critical areas submenu in the County’s Polaris mapping system since early 2017. Polaris is available here: https://sjcgis.org/polaris/

Updated Building Standards for Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA): 

The updated FIRMs identify three categories of SFHAs. The proposed regulations contain general provisions that apply to structures within the SFHA’s .

Link to Table