The Fight Against Flood Insurance
As many of you already know, one of the issues that I think is of major importance to Foster City residents is whether or not we, as Foster City property owners, are going to be required to purchase flood insurance later this year when the revised flood maps are expected to be issued by FEMA. For those of you who are not aware of this issue, I think it is important that you become aware of it and if you are so inclined, work with us as we continue to try to solve this problem.
Back in April of 2008 FEMA released preliminary drafts of revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps for San Mateo County. Although Foster City’s levees were re-certified by FEMA in July 2007, it was determined that a section of levee within the City of San Mateo did not meet FEMA’s requirements for adequate flood protection. This resulted in the revised maps showing all of Foster City to be in a Special Flood Hazard Zone, which, in turn, would require most of us to purchase flood insurance by the time the maps become final in about September of this year.
As part of a diligent effort to assess and resolve the problem, City Council members met with San Mateo’s City Council members to discuss a solution. San Mateo has since proceeded with its levee improvements project and is currently working on getting the necessary permits from various regulatory agencies. In addition, San Mateo formed a special assessment district to fund the work so that once the agencies have approved the work, there is money to pay for it. San Mateo also obtained a Conditional Letter of Map Revisions, which assures that map revisions will be issued once the improvements are completed. What this means is that upon completion of San Mateo’s levee improvements, Foster City would no longer be classified as a Special Flood Hazard Zone and flood insurance would not be required.
The problem today lies in the fact that there are myriad State and Federal agencies that are required to give approval to any construction project effecting the Bay, and the speed at which the review and approval process works has been challenging. Our congressional representative, Jackie Speier, has provided valuable assistance in working with FEMA and the various regulatory agencies in an attempt to expedite San Mateo’s project and to see if accommodations can be made by FEMA to delay the finalizing of the new flood map or otherwise create a short exemption. To date, however, we are still awaiting a formal response.
Thus, despite the fact that the existing system of levees, lagoon and pumps that protect our community continues to afford excellent protection from flooding, and despite San Mateo’s best and diligent efforts to improve the San Mateo levees, we remain at the mercy of the regulatory agencies required to review and issue permits for the work. This feeling of frustration is something that all of us have felt at least once in dealing with a governmental agency, although hopefully never with Foster City, and we are now suffering a similar fate as a community.
The City Council will continue to work diligently on this matter and we have all dedicated ourselves to doing all that we can to stop flood insurance from becoming mandatory for our community. There is additional information available on our website, www.fostercity.org where there is a link for information pertaining to this issue, and we are expecting to get another update at a City Council meeting in March, so keep your eyes on the agendas.
I hope to see many of you at the City Council meeting when we hear the update and I am looking forward to hearing at that time from those of you who may have some ideas on alternative ways to deal with this potential problem. This is an issue that could affect a large number of us and it is important for everyone to stay informed and to get involved if they so choose. Working together, however, I remain confident that this is an issue we can resolve in a manner beneficial to us all.
Please feel free to contact me about this or any other Foster City issue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 20, 2010
The Fight Against Flood Insurance