Information Available about Foster City's Levee Improvement Project
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Information Available about Foster City's Levee Improvement Project
For Immediate Release: August 06, 2015
Contact: 'Andra Lorenz, (650) 286-3215, alorenz@fostercity.org

For decades, Foster City's levees have provided flood protection for its residents and businesses while providing recreational amenities and a scenic bay trail immediately adjacent to the levees. Based on the flood protection provided by the levee, property owners have never been required to purchase flood insurance.

Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a coastal flood hazard study utilizing a new modeling methodology and new regulations. Although Foster City's levee system has been certified by FEMA since 1997 and there has been no change in the infrastructure protecting Foster City, this new study determined that roughly 85% of Foster City's levee system is not adequate to meet current FEMA guidelines.

If this new map goes into effect, Foster City properties will not retain their Zone X accreditation status; meaning the entire city will be placed in a flood zone designation that will require property owners with Federally-backed loans to obtain flood insurance and require owners selling properties in Foster City to disclose the flood zone designation as part of the sale, which could potentially lower property values.

Foster City is in the preliminary process of designing the levee improvements, which will raise the levee to remove Foster City properties from this flood zone classification. Included in the design will be the incorporation of design considerations to incorporate Sea Level Rise. The City Council is being asked to provide policy direction for the project and the City is eager to educate and engage all of the property owners in Foster City as the plan is implemented to meet the challenges ahead. Public input regarding incorporation of sea level rise for the future, aesthetic components, and recreational amenities that could be incorporated in the project, is a vital component of the design process and will assist the City Council with providing policy direction. The City will be scheduling various community meetings for public engagement, education, and input.

Here's what this project means for Foster City property owners:

  • If no improvements to the levee are made, Foster City will be removed from Zone X designation and be placed in a flood zone. Property owners with Federally-backed loans will be required to purchase flood insurance.
  • Flood insurance is estimated to be several thousand dollars annually.
  • The Levee project is being implemented to protect the entire City to avoid this flood zone designation shift.
  • The project focuses on the improvement of the existing levees, which will require raising the levee approximately 5.5 feet, plus sea level rise design considerations.
  • Estimated Cost For the Project: Up to $75 million. If additional aesthetic improvements or recreational amenities are included in the scope of work, the estimated costs would need to be adjusted accordingly.
  • Expected Completion Date: Mid- 2020. This completion date is based on an aggressive preliminary schedule and may need to be adjusted based on regulatory agencies' turnaround time on approvals during the permitting process.
  • The City will be hiring a financial consultant to assist with determining financing options for the project. One of the financing options is the formation of an Assessment District to fairly distribute the project costs amongst all the property owners. It is expected that the cost to property owners for the Assessment District will be less than the cost for flood insurance.
  • Based on policy direction, the city plans to reinstall the levee bicycle and pedestrian trail and could widen the trail, if possible, so that recreational uses are maintained or improved. Accessibility to the trail could also be incorporated into the project design.

This project is of the utmost importance, is one of the most valuable assets of the City, and is vital in keeping Foster City housing and business property values high, avoiding new flood insurance costs, and protecting our homes and business from the chance of a natural disaster, as well as minimizing the impacts associated with Sea Level Rise.

It is imperative that all our residents are informed of any levee improvement project updates throughout the entire process. For more information, go to http://www.fostercity.org/publicworks/lagoonandlevee/Levee-Protection-Planning.cfm.

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200