Chapter 2
FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT*

Sections:

Article 1. Purpose

9-2.100    Statement of purpose.

9-2.101    Methods of reducing flood losses.

Article 2. Definitions

9-2.200    Interpretation—Use of defined terms.

Article 3. General Provisions

9-2.300    Lands to which this Chapter applies.

9-2.301    Basis for establishing the areas of special flood hazard.

9-2.302    Compliance.

9-2.303    Abrogation and greater restrictions.

9-2.304    Interpretation.

9-2.305    Warning and disclaimer of liability.

Article 4. Administration

9-2.400    Floodplain development permits.

9-2.401    Designation of the Floodplain Administrator.

9-2.402    Duties and responsibilities of the Floodplain Administrator.

9-2.403    Appeals.

9-2.404    Maintenance of flood protection measures.

9-2.405    Hazard mitigation plan.

Article 5. Provisions for Flood Hazard Reduction

9-2.500    Standards for construction.

9-2.501    Standards for utilities.

9-2.502    Standards for storage of materials and equipment.

9-2.503    Standards for subdivisions.

9-2.504    Standards for manufactured homes.

9-2.505    Standards for Floodway Development.

9-2.506    Standards for Recreational Vehicles.

Article 6. Appeal and Variance Procedures

9-2.600    Variances.

9-2.601    Request for variance or appeals.

9-2.602    General provisions.

9-2.603    Required findings.

*    Prior ordinance history: Ords. 750-87 and 931-93.

Article 1. Purpose

9-2.100 Statement of purpose.

It is the purpose of this Chapter to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare, and to minimize public and private losses due to flooding in specific areas through the implementation of provisions designed to:

(a)    Protect human life and health;

(b)    Minimize expenditure of public money for costly flood control projects;

(c)    Minimize the need for rescue and relief efforts associated with flooding which are generally undertaken at the expense of the general public;

(d)    Minimize prolonged business interruptions;

(e)    Minimize damage to public facilities and utilities such as water and gas mains, electric, telephone, and sewer lines, and streets and bridges located in areas of special flood hazards;

(f)    Help maintain a stable tax base by providing for the sound use and development of areas of special flood hazard so as to minimize property devaluation resulting from flood damage and events;

(g)    Ensure potential buyers are notified that property is located in areas of special flood hazards;

(h)    Ensure those who occupy the areas of special flood hazards assume responsibility for their actions; and

(i)    Maintain qualifying standards for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.101 Methods of reducing flood losses.

In order to accomplish its purposes, this Chapter includes methods and provisions to:

(a)    Restrict or prohibit uses which are dangerous to health, safety, and property due to water or erosion hazards, or which result in damaging increases in erosion, flood heights or velocities;

(b)    Require that uses vulnerable to floods, including facilities which serve such uses, be protected against flood damage at the time of initial construction;

(c)    Control the alteration of natural floodplains, alluvial fans, stream channels, and natural protective barriers, which help accommodate or channel flood waters;

(d)    Control filling, grading, dredging, and other development which may increase flood damage; and

(e)    Prevent or regulate the construction of flood barriers which shall unnaturally divert flood waters or which may increase flood hazards in other areas.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01, eff. January 10, 2002)

Article 2. Definitions

9-2.200 Interpretation—Use of defined terms.

For the purposes of this Chapter, unless otherwise apparent from the context, certain words and phrases used in this Chapter are defined as set forth in this Article. In addition, the word “structure” shall include the word “building.”

(a)    “Adversely affects” shall mean the cumulative effect of the proposed development, when combined with all existing and anticipated development, which shall cause a significant change in runoff within the drainage basin and shall increase the water surface elevation of the base flood more than one foot at any point.

(b)    “Appeal” shall mean a request for a review of the Floodplain Administrator’s interpretation of any provision of this Chapter.

(c)    “Area of shallow flooding” shall mean a designated AO or AH Zone on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). The base flood depths range from one (1') to three (3') feet; a clearly defined channel does not exist; the path of flooding is unpredictable and indeterminate; and velocity flow may be evident. Such flooding is characterized by ponding or sheet flow.

(d)    “Base flood” shall mean a flood which has a one percent (1%) chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year (also called the “100-year flood” or “One percent flood”).

(e)    “Basement” shall mean any area of the building having its floor subgrade—i.e., below ground level—on all sides.

(f)    “Breakaway walls” shall mean walls that are not part of the structural support of the building and are intended through their design and construction to collapse under specific lateral loading forces, without causing damage to the elevated portion of the building or supporting foundation system.

(g)    “Development” shall mean any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including, but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials located within an area of special flood hazard.

(h)    “Encroachment” shall mean the advance or infringement of uses, plant growth, fill, excavation, buildings, permanent structures or development into a floodplain which may impede or alter the flow capacity of a floodplain.

(i)    “Flood, flooding, or flood water” shall mean a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from the overflow of inland or tidal waters; the unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

(j)    “Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM)” shall mean the official map on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) has delineated both the areas of special flood hazards and the floodway.

(k)    “Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)” shall mean the official map on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Federal Insurance Administration has delineated both the areas of special flood hazards and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.

(l)    “Flood Insurance Study” shall mean the official report provided by the Federal Insurance Administration that includes flood profiles, the Flood Insurance Rate Map, the Flood Boundary and Floodway Map, and the water surface elevation of the base flood.

(m)    “Floodplain Administrator” shall mean the individual designated in Section 9-2.401 of this Chapter to administer and enforce the provisions of this Chapter.

(n)    “Floodplain or flood-prone area” shall mean any land area susceptible to being inundated by water from any source—see “Flooding.”

(o)    “Floodplain management” shall mean the operation of an overall program of corrective and preventive measures for reducing flood damage and preserving and enhancing, where possible, natural resources in the floodplain, including, but not limited to emergency preparedness plans, flood control works, floodplain management regulations, and open space plans.

(p)    “Floodplain management regulations” shall mean this Chapter and other zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, building codes, health regulations, special purpose ordinances (such as grading and erosion control) and other applications of police power which control development in flood-prone areas. This term describes federal, state, or local regulations in any combination thereof which provide standards for preventing and reducing flood loss and damage.

(q)    “Floodproofing” shall mean any combination of structural and nonstructural additions, changes, or adjustments to structures which reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures, and their contents (Refer to FEMA Technical Bulletins TB 1-93, TB 3-93, and TB 7-93 for guidelines on dry and wet floodproofing).

(r)    “Flood-related erosion” shall mean a condition which exists in conjunction with a flooding event which alters the composition of the shoreline or bank of a watercourse and/or which increases the possibility of loss due to the erosion of the land area adjacent to the shoreline or watercourse.

(s)    “Floodway” shall mean the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas which must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than one foot (1'). Also referred to as “Regulatory Floodway.”

(t)    “Floodway fringe” shall mean that area of the floodplain on either side of the “Regulatory Floodway” where encroachment may be permitted.

(u)    “Hardship” shall mean the exceptional hardship that would result from a failure to grant the requested variance.

(v)    “Hazard mitigation plan” shall mean a plan which incorporates a process whereby the potential of future loss due to flooding can be minimized by planning and implementing alternatives to floodplain development community wide.

(w)    “Highest adjacent grade” shall mean the highest natural elevation of the ground surface prior to construction next to the proposed walls of a structure.

(x)    “Historic structure” shall mean any structure that is:

(1)    Listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places (a listing maintained by the Department of the Interior) or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting the requirements for individual listing on the National Register;

(2)    Certified or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined by the Secretary of Interior to qualify as a registered historic district;

(3)    Individually listed on a state inventory of historic places in states with historic preservation programs which have been approved by the Secretary of Interior; or

(4)    Individually listed on a local inventory of historic places.

(y)    “Lowest floor” shall mean the lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area, including basement (see “Basement” definition).

(1)    An unfinished or flood resistant enclosure below the lowest floor that is usable solely for parking of vehicles, building access or storage in an area other than a basement area, is not considered a building’s lowest floor provided it conforms to applicable non-elevation design requirements, including, but not limited to:

(i)    the wet floodproofing standard in WMC Subsection (c)(3) of Section 9-2.500;

(ii)    the anchoring standards in WMC Subsection (a) of Section 9-2.500;

(iii)    the construction materials and methods standards in WMC Subsection (b) of Section 9-2.500; and

(iv)    the standards for utilities in WMC Section 9-2.501.

(2)    For residential structures, all subgrade enclosed areas are prohibited as they are considered to be basements (see “Basement” definition). This prohibition includes below-grade garages and storage areas.

(z)    “Manufactured home” shall mean a structure, transportable in one or more sections, which is built on a permanent chassis and is designed for use with or without a permanent foundation when attached to the required utilities. The term “manufactured home” does not include recreational vehicles, travel trailers or manufactured housing on permanent slab foundations.

(aa)    “Market Value (existing structure)” shall be the current value of the existing structure based on a report prepared by an independent licensed appraiser; such report to be dated within twelve (12) months of the application date. If the report does not separate land from structure value, the structure value shall be based on the report pro-rated by the percentage of structure assessed by the most recent equalized tax roll of the Santa Cruz County Assessor’s Office.

(bb)    “Market Value (improvements)” shall be the value of the improvements proposed to a structure based on valuation of new construction and interior remodels as determined for building permits by the City of Watsonville.

(cc)    “Mean sea level” shall mean for purposes of the National Flood Insurance Program, the National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) of 1929 or other datum, to which base flood elevations shown on a community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map are referenced.

(dd)    “New construction” shall mean, for flood-plain management purposes, structures for which the “start of construction” commenced on or after January 10, 2002, and includes any subsequent improvements to such structures.

(ee)    “New manufactured home park or sub-division” shall mean a parcel (or contiguous parcels) of land divided into two (2) or more manufactured home lots for rent or sale for which the construction of facilities for servicing the lots on which the manufactured homes are to be affixed (including at a minimum, the installation of utilities, the construction of streets, and either final site grading or the pouring of concrete pads) is completed on or after January 10, 2002.

(ff)    “Obstruction” includes, but is not limited to, any dam, wall, wharf, embankment, levee, dike, pile, abutment, protection, excavation, channelization, bridge, conduit, culvert, building, wire, fence, rock, gravel, refuse, fill, structure, vegetation or other material in, along, across or projecting into any watercourse which may alter, impede, retard or change the direction and/or velocity of the flow of water, or due to its location, its propensity to snare or collect debris carried by the flow of water, or its likelihood of being carried downstream.

(gg)    “One-hundred-year flood” or “100-year flood” or “One percent flood”—see “Base flood.”

(hh)    “One percent flood” or “One-hundred-year flood” or “100-year-flood”—see “Base flood.”

(ii)    “Public safety and nuisance,” as related to Article 6 of this Chapter, shall mean that the granting of a variance must not result in anything which is injurious to safety or health of an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, or unlawfully obstructs the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of any navigable lake, or river, bay, stream, canal, or basin.

(jj)    “Recreational Vehicle” shall mean a vehicle which is:

(1)    Built on a single chassis;

(2)    400 square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projection;

(3)    Designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck; and

(4)    Designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreation, camping, travel, seasonal use.

(kk)    “Regulatory floodway” shall mean the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than one foot.

(ll)    “Remedy a violation” shall mean to bring the structure or other development into compliance with State or local floodplain management regulations, or, if this is not possible, to reduce the impacts of its noncompliance. Ways that impacts may be reduced include protecting the structure or other affected development from flood damages, implementing the enforcement provisions of this Chapter or otherwise deterring future similar violations, or reducing state or federal financial exposure with regard to the structure or other development.

(mm)    “Riverine” shall mean relating to, formed by, or resembling a river (including tributaries), stream, brook, etc.

(nn)    “Significant change in runoff” shall mean a condition caused by site development or construction which increases stormwater runoff from a parcel (or contiguous parcels) because of the addition of impervious cover on the site. For the purposes of this Chapter, a significant change in runoff within the watershed has occurred when one or more of the following criteria has been satisfied:

(1)    The post-construction impervious site area is more than forty (40%) percent greater than in the pre-construction case;

(2)    The developed gross area of the project exceeds one-half ( 1/2) acre; or

(3)    There are documented, existing, drainage capacity problems downstream of the development.

(oo)    “Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)” shall mean an area in the floodplain subject to a one percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year. It is shown on an FHBM or FIRM as Zone A, AO, A1-A30, AE, A99, AH, E, or M.

(pp)    “Start of construction” includes substantial improvement and other proposed new development and shall mean the date the building permit was issued, provided the actual start of construction, repair, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, placement, or other improvement was within 180 days from the date of the permit. The actual start means either the first placement of a permanent construction (other than a manufactured home) of a structure on a site, such as the pouring of slab or footings, the installation of piles, the construction of columns, or any work beyond the stage of excavation; or the placement of a manufactured home on a foundation.

(1)    Permanent construction does not include land preparation, such as clearing, grading, and filling; nor does it include the installation of streets and/or walkways; nor does it include excavation for a basement, footings, piers, or foundations or the erection of temporary forms; nor does it include the installation on the property of accessory buildings, such as garages or sheds not occupied as dwelling units or not as part of the main structure.

(2)    For a substantial improvement, the actual start of construction means the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor, or other structural part of a building, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the building.

(3)    For manufactured homes not within a manufactured home park or manufactured home subdivision, “start of construction” shall mean the affixing of the manufactured home to its permanent site.

(4)    For manufactured homes within manufactured home parks or manufactured home subdivisions, “start of construction” shall mean the date on which the construction of facilities for servicing the site on which the manufactured home is to be affixed (including, at a minimum, the construction of streets, either final site grading or the pouring of concrete pads, and the installation of utilities) is completed.

(qq)    “Structure” shall mean a walled and roofed building that is principally above ground; this includes a gas or liquid storage tank or manufactured home.

(rr)    “Substantial damage” shall mean damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed fifty (50%) percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.

(ss)    “Substantial improvement” shall mean any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other proposed new development of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty (50%) percent of the market value of the structure before the “start of construction” of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred “substantial damage,” regardless of the actual repair work performed and does not include site improvements. For the purposes of this definition, “substantial improvement” shall be considered to occur when the first alteration of the structural portion of any wall, ceiling, floor, or other structural part of the building commences, whether or not such alteration affects the external dimensions of the structure and any subsequent construction within three (3) calendar years of the start of construction. The term does not, however, include either:

(1)    Any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations or state or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or

(2)    Any alteration of a “historic structure,” provided that the alteration shall not preclude the structure’s continued designation as a “historic structure.”

(tt)    “Variance” shall mean a grant of relief from the requirements of this Chapter which permits construction in a manner which would otherwise be prohibited by this Chapter.

(uu)    “Violation” shall mean the failure of a structure or other development to be fully compliant with this Chapter. A structure or other development without the elevation certificate, other certifications, or other evidence of compliance required in this Chapter is presumed to be in violation until such time as that documentation is provided.

(vv)    “Water surface elevation” shall mean the height, in relation to the National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) of 1929, (or other datum, where specified) of floods of various magnitudes and frequencies in the floodplains of coastal or riverine areas.

(ww)    “Watercourse” shall mean a lake, river, creek, stream, wash, arroyo, channel or other topographic feature on or over which waters flow at least periodically. Watercourse includes specifically designated areas in which substantial flood damage may occur.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002, as amended by § 1, Ord. 1204-06 C-M, eff. November 23, 2006)

Article 3. General Provisions

9-2.300 Lands to which this Chapter applies.

This Chapter shall apply to all areas designated special flood hazard within the jurisdiction of the City of Watsonville.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.301 Basis for establishing the areas of special flood hazard.

The areas of special flood hazard identified by the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the Flood Insurance Study (FIS), a scientific and engineering report entitled “Flood Insurance Study Santa Cruz, County and Incorporated Areas,” dated March 2, 2006, and accompanying Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), dated March 2, 2006, and all subsequent amendments and/or revisions, are hereby adopted by reference and declared to be a part of this Chapter. This FIS and attendant mapping is the minimum area of applicability of this Chapter and may be supplemented by studies for other areas which allow implementation of this Chapter and which are recommended to the City of Watsonville by the Floodplain Administrator.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002, as amended by § 1, Ord. 1192-06 (CM), eff. April 13, 2006)

9-2.302 Compliance.

No structure or land shall hereafter be constructed, located, extended, converted, or altered without full compliance with the terms of this Chapter and other applicable regulations. No permit shall be issued until the project conforms with this Chapter. Violation of the requirements (including violations of conditions and safeguards established in connection with conditions) shall constitute a misdemeanor. Nothing herein shall prevent the City of Watsonville from taking such lawful action as is necessary to prevent or remedy any violation.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.303 Abrogation and greater restrictions.

This chapter is not intended to repeal, abrogate, or impair any existing easements, covenants, or deed restrictions. However, where this Chapter and another provision of law, easement, covenant, or deed restriction conflict or overlap, whichever imposes the more stringent restrictions shall prevail.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.304 Interpretation.

In the interpretation and application of this Chapter, all provisions shall be:

(a)    Considered as minimum requirements;

(b)    Liberally construed in favor of compliance and enforcement; and

(c)    Deemed neither to limit nor repeal any other powers granted under state statutes.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.305 Warning and disclaimer of liability.

The degree of flood protection required by this Chapter is considered reasonable for regulatory purposes and is based on scientific and engineering considerations. Larger floods can and will occur on rare occasions. Flood heights may be increased by man-made or natural causes. This Chapter does not imply that land outside the areas of special flood hazards or uses permitted within such areas will be free from flooding or flood damages. This Chapter shall not create liability on the part of the City of Watsonville, any officer or employee thereof, the State of California, or the Federal Insurance Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, for any flood damages that result from reliance on this Chapter or any administrative decision lawfully made thereunder. The City hereby declares its immunity from any liability for flood damages incurred by any person; that the provisions of this Chapter are adopted according to federal regulations in order to provide property owners with the opportunity of acquiring flood insurance and other privileges; and that the adoption of this Chapter shall not constitute any admission of fault or liability of the City.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

Article 4. Administration

9-2.400 Floodplain development permits.

A floodplain development permit shall be obtained before any construction or other development begins within any area of special flood hazard established in WMC Section 9-2.301. Application for a floodplain development permit shall be made on forms furnished by the Floodplain Administrator and shall include all information called out on the form and requested by the City.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.401 Designation of the Floodplain Administrator.

The City Manager or his/her designee is hereby appointed to administer, implement, and enforce this Chapter by granting or denying flood prevention permits in accord with its provisions.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.402 Duties and responsibilities of the Floodplain Administrator.

The duties and responsibilities of the Floodplain Administrator shall include, but not be limited to the following:

(a)    Permit Review. Review all development permits to determine that:

(1)    Permit requirements of this Chapter have been satisfied;

(2)    All other required state and federal permits have been obtained;

(3)    The site is reasonably safe from flooding;

(4)    The proposed development does not adversely affect the carrying capacity of areas where base flood elevations have been determined but a floodway has not been designated. For purposes of this Chapter;

(5)    Review all proposals for development to assure that the flood discharge exiting the development after construction is equal to or less than the flood discharge at the location prior to development where the proposed development adversely affects the flood carrying capacity of downstream drainage ways; and

(6)    Select suitable recurrence intervals other than the 100-year level of protection for the design of a development mitigation measure, such as detention ponds to reduce increased post construction run-off.

(b)    Review, Use and Development of Other Base Flood Data.

(1)    When the base flood elevation data has not been provided in accordance with WMC Section 9-2.301, the Floodplain Administrator shall obtain, review, and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation and floodway data available from a federal or state agency, or other source, in order to administer Article 5 of this Chapter. Any such information shall be submitted to the City of Watsonville for adoption; or

(2)    If no base flood elevation data is available from a federal or state agency or other source, then a base flood elevation shall be obtained using one of two methods from the FEMA publication “Managing Floodplain Development in Approximate Zone A Areas—A Guide for Obtaining and Developing Base (100-year) Flood Elevations” dated July 1995 in order to administer Article 5 of this Chapter:

(i)    Simplified method. 100-year or base flood discharge shall be obtained using the appropriate regression equation found in a U.S. Geological Survey publication, or the discharge-drainage area method; and base flood elevation shall be obtained using the Quick-2 computer program developed by FEMA; or

(ii)    Detailed method. 100-year or base flood discharge shall be obtained using the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ HEC-HMS computer program; and base flood elevation shall be obtained using the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ HEC-RAS computer program.

(c)    Notification of Other Agencies. In alteration or relocation of a watercourse:

(1)    Notify adjacent communities and the California Department of Water Resources prior to alteration or relocation;

(2)    Submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Insurance Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency; and

(3)    Assure that the flood carrying capacity within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse is maintained.

(d)    Documentation of Floodplain Development. Obtain and maintain for public inspection and make available as needed the following:

(1)    Certification required by WMC Subsection (c)(1) of Section 9-2.500 and Section 9-2.504 (lowest floor elevations);

(2)    Certification required by WMC Subsection (c)(2) of Section 9-2.500 (elevation or floodproofing of nonresidential structures);

(3)    Certification required by WMC Subsection (c)(3) of Section 9-2.500 (wet proofing standard);

(4)    Certification of elevation required by WMC Subsection (b) of Section 9-2.503 (subdivision standards);

(5)    Certification of anchoring required by WMC Section 9-2.504 (manufactured homes);

(e)    Map Determinations. Make interpretations where needed, as to the exact location of the boundaries of the areas of special flood hazard. Where there appears to be a conflict between a mapped boundary and actual field conditions, grade and base flood elevations shall be used to determine the boundaries of the special flood hazard area. The person contesting the location of the boundary shall be given a reasonable opportunity to appeal the interpretation as provided in Article 6 of this Chapter.

(f)    Remedial Action. Take action to remedy violations of this Chapter as specified in WMC Section 9-2.302.

(g)    Letter of Map Revision. The applicant may be required to apply to FEMA for a conditional letter of map revision (CLOMR) and subsequent letter of map revision (LOMR) in order that a finding can be made regarding the impacts from proposed development.

(h)    Duty to notify the Federal Emergency Management Agency of base flood elevation changes due to physical alterations.

(1)    Within six (6) months of information becoming available or project completion, whichever comes first, the floodplain administrator shall submit or assure that the permit applicant submits technical or scientific data to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR).

(2)    All LOMRs for flood control projects are approved prior to the issuance of building permits. Building permits must not be issued based on Conditional Letters of Map Revision (CLOMR’s). Approved CLOMRs allow construction of the proposed flood control project and land preparation as specified in Subsection 9-2.200(oo) of this Chapter.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002, as amended by § 1, Ord. 1204-06 C-M, eff. November 23, 2006)

9-2.403 Appeals.

The Watsonville City Council shall hear and decide appeals when it is alleged there is an error in any requirement, decision, or determination made by the Floodplain Administrator in the enforcement or administration of this Chapter.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.404 Maintenance of flood protection measures.

The maintenance of any and all flood protection measures (levees, dikes, dams, or reservoirs) shall be required of the jurisdiction where such measures provide protection. If such measures are privately owned, an operation or maintenance plan shall be required of the owner to be on file with the City of Watsonville.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.407 Hazard mitigation plan.

The Floodplain Administrator shall review the conformance of all requests for future floodplain development against the City’s General Plan. Consideration of the following elements shall be required before approval:

(a)    Determine if the proposed development is located within or affects a known floodplain;

(b)    Inform the public of the proposed activity;

(c)    Determine if there is a practicable alternative or site for the proposed activity;

(d)    Identify the impact of any activity in the floodplain; and

(e)    Require the applicant to develop a plan to mitigate the impact of the activity in accordance with WMC Section 9-2.402.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

Article 5. Provisions for Flood Hazard Reduction

9-2.500 Standards for construction.

In all special flood hazard areas the following standards are required:

(a)    Anchoring:

(1)    All new construction and substantial improvements shall be adequately anchored to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement of the structure resulting from hydrodynamic and hydrostatic loads, including the effects of buoyancy.

(2)    All manufactured homes shall meet the anchoring standards of WMC Section 9-2.504.

(b)    Construction materials and methods. All new construction and substantial improvement shall be constructed;

(1)    With flood resistant materials as specified in FEMA Technical Bulletin TB 2-93, and utility equipment resistant to flood damage.

(2)    Using methods and practices that minimize flood damage.

(3)    With electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing and air conditioning equipment and other service facilities that are designed and/or located so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding.

(4)    If within Zones AH or AO, so that there are adequate drainage paths around structures on slopes to guide flood waters around and away from proposed structures.

(c)    Elevation and floodproofing. (See Article 2 of this Chapter for definitions for “basement,” “lowest floor,” “new construction,” “substantial damage” and “substantial improvement.”

(1)    Residential construction, new or substantial improvement, shall have the lowest floor of the entire structure, including basement,

(i)    In an AO zone, one foot (1') above the base flood elevation, or elevated at least two feet (2') above the highest adjacent grade if no base flood elevation is specified.

(ii)    In an A zone, one foot (1') above the base flood elevation; said base flood elevation shall be determined by one of the methods in WMC Subsection (b) of Section 9-2.402.

(iii)    In all other Zones, one foot (1') above the base flood elevation. Upon the completion of the structure, the elevation of the lowest floor including basement shall be certified by a registered professional engineer or surveyor, and verified by the community building inspector to be properly elevated. Such certification and verification shall be provided to the Floodplain Administrator.

(2)    Nonresidential construction, new or substantial improvement, shall either be elevated to conform with WMC Subsection (c)(1) of Section 9-2.500 or together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities;

(i)    Be flood-proofed below the elevation recommended under WMC Subsection (c)(1) of Section 9-2.500 so that the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water;

(ii)    Have structural components capable of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy; and

(iii)    Be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect that the standards of WMC Subsection (c)(2) of Section 9-2.500 are satisfied. Such certification shall be provided to the Floodplain Administrator.

(3)    All new construction and substantial improvement with fully enclosed areas below the lowest floor (excluding basements) that are usable solely for parking of vehicles, building access or storage, and which are subject to flooding, shall be designed to automatically equalize hydrostatic flood forces on exterior walls by allowing for the entry and exit of floodwater. Designs for meeting this requirement shall follow the guidelines in FEMA Technical Bulletins TB 1-93 and TB 7-93, and must meet or exceed the following minimum criteria:

(i)    Have a minimum of two (2) openings having a total net area of not less than one (1) square inch for every square foot of enclosed area subject to flooding. The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one foot (1') above grade. Openings may be equipped with screens, louvers, valves or other coverings or devices provided that they permit the automatic entry and exit of floodwater; or

(ii)    Be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect.

(4)    Manufactured homes shall also meet the standards in WMC Section 9-2.504.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.501 Standards for utilities.

(a)    All new and replacement water supply and sanitary sewage systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate:

(1)    Infiltration of flood waters into the systems; and

(2)    Discharge from the systems into flood waters.

(b)    On-site waste disposal systems shall be located to avoid impairment to them, or contamination from them during flooding.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.502 Standards for storage of materials and equipment.

(a)    The storage or processing of materials which in time of flooding are buoyant, flammable, explosive, or could be injurious to human, animal, or plant life shall be prohibited.

(b)    The storage of other materials or equipment may be allowed if not subject to major damage by floods and if firmly anchored to prevent flotation or if readily removable from the area within the time available after a flood warning.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.503 Standards for subdivisions.

(a)    All tentative subdivision or parcel map proposals shall identify the special flood hazard area and the elevation of the base flood.

(b)    All plans shall provide the elevation of proposed structure(s) and pad(s). If the site is filled above the base flood elevation, the lowest floor and pad elevations shall be certified by a registered professional engineer or surveyor and provided to the Floodplain Administrator.

(c)    All proposals shall be consistent with the need to minimize flood damage.

(d)    All proposals shall have public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems located and constructed to minimize flood damage.

(e)    All proposals shall provide adequate drainage to reduce exposure to flood hazards.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.504 Standards for manufactured homes.

All manufactured homes that are placed or substantially improved, within Zones A1-30, AH, and AE on the community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map, on sites located:

(1)    Outside of a manufactured home park or subdivision;

(2)    In a new manufactured home park or subdivision;

(3)    In an expansion to an existing manufactured home park or subdivision; or

(4)    In an existing manufactured home park or subdivision on a site upon which a manufactured home has incurred “substantial damage” as the result of a flood shall be elevated on a permanent foundation such that the lowest floor of the manufactured home is one foot (1') above the base flood elevation and be securely fastened to an adequately anchored foundation system to resist flotation, collapse, and lateral movement.

(b)    All manufactured homes to be placed or substantially improved on sites in an existing manufactured home park or subdivision within Zones A1-30, AH and AE, on the community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map that are not subject to the provisions of WMC Subsection (a) of Section 9-2.504 shall be securely fastened to an adequately anchored foundation system to resist flotation, collapse, and lateral movement, and be elevated so that either the:

(1)    Lowest floor of the manufactured home is one foot (1') above the base flood elevation; or

(2)    Manufactured home chassis is supported by reinforced piers or other foundation elements of at least equivalent strength that are no less than thirty-six inches (36") in height above grade. If elevated on pilings, the lots shall be large enough for steps; the pilings shall be placed in stable soil no more than 10 feet (10') apart; reinforcement shall be provided for pilings more than six feet (6') above the ground surface; and calculations shall be provided for the bearing capacity.

(c)    Certification of compliance shall be required of the developer or state agency responsible for the plan for regulating manufactured home placement. The elevation of the lowest floor shall be certified by a registered professional engineer or surveyor, and verified by the community building inspector to be properly elevated. Such certification and verification shall be provided to the Floodplain Administrator.

(d)    No manufactured home shall be placed in a floodway, except in an existing manufactured home park or existing manufactured home subdivision.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.505 Standards for Floodway Development.

Since floodways are an extremely hazardous area due to the velocity of floodwaters which carry debris, potential projectiles, and erosion potential, the following provisions apply:

(a)    Until a regulatory floodway is adopted, no new construction, substantial development, or other development (including fill) shall be permitted within Zones A1-30 and AE, unless it is demonstrated that the cumulative effect of the proposed development, when combined with all other development, will not increase the water surface elevation of the base flood more than one foot at any point within the City of Watsonville.

(b)    Within an adopted regulatory floodway, the City of Watsonville shall prohibit encroachments, including new fill, new construction, substantial improvements, and other development, unless certification by a registered civil engineer is provided demonstrating that the proposed encroachment shall not result in any increase in flood levels during occurrence of the base flood discharge.

If provisions of Subsections (a) and (b), above are satisfied, all new construction, substantial improvement, and other proposed new development shall comply with all other applicable flood hazard reduction provisions of Section 9-2.05 of this Chapter.

(§ 1, Ord. 1204-06 C-M, eff. November 23, 2006)

9-2.506 Standards for Recreational Vehicles.

All recreational vehicles placed in Zones A1-30, AH, and AE will either:

(a)    Be on site for fewer than thirty (30) consecutive days, in accordance with Section 11-1.21 of this Code; or

(b)    Be fully licensed and ready for highway use. A recreational vehicle is ready for highway use if it is on its wheels or jacking system, is attached to the site only by quick disconnect type utilities and security devices, and has no permanently attached additions.

(§ 1, Ord. 1204-06 C-M, eff. November 23, 2006)

Article 6. Appeal and Variance Procedures

9-2.600 Variances.

(a)    A variance may be granted for a parcel of property with physical characteristics so unusual that complying with the requirements of this Chapter would create an exceptional hardship to the applicant or the surrounding property owners. The characteristics must be unique to the property and not be shared by adjacent parcels. The unique characteristic must pertain to the land itself, not to the structure, its inhabitants, or the property owners. Mere economic or financial hardship alone is not exceptional. Inconvenience, aesthetic considerations, physical handicaps, personal preferences, or the disapproval of one’s neighbors likewise cannot, as a rule, qualify as an exceptional hardship. All of these problems can be resolved through other means without granting a variance, even if the alternative is more expensive, or requires the property owner to build elsewhere or put the parcel to a different use than originally intended.

(b)    It is the desire of the Watsonville City Council to help protect its citizens from flooding. This need is so compelling and the implications of the cost of insuring a structure built below flood level are so serious that variances from the flood elevation or from other requirements in the flood ordinance are quite rare. The long-term goal of preventing and reducing flood loss and damage can best be met if variances are strictly limited.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.601 Request for variance or appeals.

In evaluating requests for variances, the Watsonville City Council shall consider all technical evaluations, all relevant factors, standards specified in other chapters of this title, and determine that the request will not result in:

(a)    Materials being swept onto other lands and injuring others;

(b)    Increased danger to life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;

(c)    Increased susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents of flood damage and the effect of such damage on the existing individual owner and future owners of the property;

(d)    Reduction of services by the proposed facility to the community;

(e)    Incompatible use between existing development and anticipated development;

(f)    An inconsistency with the master plan and floodplain management program for the county and specific community;

(g)    Inadequate emergency access to the property in time of flood;

(h)    An increase in expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise, and sediment transport of the flood waters expected at the site; and

(i)    Increased cost to the City and other agencies providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including maintenance and repair of public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical, and water system, and streets and bridges.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.602 General provisions.

(a)    Variances may be issued for new construction, substantial improvements, and other proposed new development to be erected on a lot contiguous to or surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, provided that the procedures of this Chapter have been fully considered and complied with.

(b)    Variances may be issued for the repair or rehabilitation of “historic structures,” upon a determination that the proposed repair or rehabilitation will not preclude the structure’s continued designation as an historic structure and the variance is the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the structure.

(c)    Variances shall not be issued within any mapped regulatory floodway if any increase in flood level during the base flood discharge would result.

(d)    Variances shall only be approved upon a determination that the variance is the “minimum necessary” considering the flood hazard, to afford relief. “Minimum necessary” means to afford relief with a minimum of deviation from the requirements of this ordinance. For example, in the case of variances to an elevation requirement, this means the Council need not grant permission for the applicant to build at grade, or even to the proposed elevation, but only to that elevation which the Council believes will provide relief and preserve the integrity of the property.

(e)    In granting a variance, the Council may attach such conditions as it deems necessary to further the purposes of this Chapter.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)

9-2.603 Required findings.

In approving a request for a variance, the Council must make written findings of fact regarding the following:

(a)    A showing of good and sufficient cause;

(b)    A determination that failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant;

(c)    A determination that the granting of a variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, or extraordinary public expense, create a nuisance, cause fraud or victimization of the public, or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances; and

(d)    That the applicant has signed a disclosure statement indicating that he or she understands that:

(1)    The issuance of a variance to construct a structure below the base flood level will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance,

(2)    Such construction below the base flood level increases risks to life and property, and

(3)    A copy of the disclosure will be filed and recorded by the County Recorder in a manner so that it appears as an exception on the title of the affected parcel of land.

(§ 1, Ord. 1121-01 C-M, eff. January 10, 2002)