Chapter 8.36
FLOOD DAMAGE PREVENTION

Sections:

8.36.010    Statutory authorization and findings of fact.

8.36.020    Purpose.

8.36.030    Definitions.

8.36.040    General provisions.

8.36.042    Compliance required.

8.36.044    Interpretation and application.

8.36.046    Disclaimer of liability.

8.36.050    Administration.

8.36.060    Variance procedures.

8.36.070    Permit requirements.

8.36.080    Development standards.

8.36.010 Statutory authorization and findings of fact.

The Legislature of the State of Washington has delegated the responsibility to local governmental units to adopt regulations designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of its citizenry.

In conformance with this responsibility, the city of Sequim finds that flood areas may result in loss of life, property, health and safety, disruption of commerce and governmental services, extraordinary public expenditures for flood protection and relief, and impairment of the tax base, all of which adversely affect the public health, safety, and general welfare. (Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.020 Purpose.

It is the purpose of this chapter to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare; reduce the annual cost of flood insurance; and minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas by provisions designed to:

A. Protect human life and health;

B. Minimize expenditure of public money and costly flood control projects;

C. Minimize the need for rescue and relief efforts associated with flooding and 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 sewer lines, electric, telephone and associated services, streets and bridges located in areas of special flood hazard;

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 future flood blight areas;

G. Ensure that potential buyers are notified that property is in an area of special flood hazard;

H. Ensure that those who occupy the areas of special flood hazard assume responsibility for their actions;

I. Assure the availability of flood insurance within the city of Sequim. (Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.030 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the definitions contained in this section shall apply:

A. “Area of shallow flooding” designated as an AO or AH zone on the flood insurance rate map (FIRM). An AO zone has base flood depths that range from one to three feet above the natural ground without a clearly defined channel and an unpredictable and indeterminate path of flooding. AO is characterized as sheet flow. An AH zone indicates ponding and is shown with standard base flood elevations.

B. “Base flood” means the flood having a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year (also referred to as the “100-year flood”). Designated on flood insurance rate maps by the letters A or V.

C. “Basement” means any area of the building having its floor sub-grade (below ground level) on all sides.

D. “Critical facility” means a facility for which even a slight chance of flooding might be too great. Critical facilities include (but are not limited to) schools, nursing homes, hospitals, police, fire and emergency response installations, and installations which produce, use or store hazardous materials or hazardous waste.

E. “Development” means any manmade 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 the area of special flood hazard.

F. “Elevated building” means, for insurance purposes, a nonbasement building that has its lowest elevated floor raised above ground level by foundation walls, shear walls, post piers, pilings, or columns.

G. “Flood” or “flooding” means a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from:

1. The overflow of inland or tidal waters; and/or

2. The unusual and rapid accumulation of runoff of surface waters from any source.

H. “Flood insurance rate map” means the official map on which the Federal Insurance Administration has delineated both the areas of special flood hazards and the risk premium zones applicable to the city of Sequim.

I. “Flood insurance study (FIS)” means the official report provided by the Federal Insurance Administration that includes flood profiles, the flood-boundary map, and the water surface elevation more than one foot.

J. “Floodway” means 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.

K. “Lowest floor” means the lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area (including basement). An unfinished or flood resistant enclosure, 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, that such enclosure is not built so as to render the structure in violation of the applicable nonelevation design requirements found at SMC 8.36.080(F)(1)(b), (i.e., provided there are adequate flood ventilation openings).

L. “Manufactured home” means 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 “manufactured home” does not include a “recreational vehicle.”

M. “New construction” means structures for which the “start of construction” commenced on or after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter.

N. “Recreational vehicle” means a vehicle:

1. Built on a single chassis;

2. Four hundred 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 recreational, camping, travel, or seasonal use.

O. “Start of construction” includes substantial improvement, and means the date the building permit was issued, provided the actual start of construction, repair, reconstruction, placement or other improvement was within 180 days of the permit date. The actual start means either the first placement of permanent construction of a structure on a site, such as the pouring of a 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. 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 part of the main structure. 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.

P. “Structure” is a walled and roofed building, including a gas or liquid storage tank that is principally above ground.

Q. “Substantial damage” means damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.

R. “Substantial improvement” means any repair, reconstruction, or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure either:

1. Before the improvement or repair is started; or

2. If the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage occurred. For the purposes of this definition, “substantial improvement” is considered to occur when the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor, or other structural part of the building commences, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the structure.

The term can exclude:

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

2. Any alteration of a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the Washington State Heritage Register.

S. “Variance” means a grant of relief from the requirements of this chapter that permits construction in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited by this chapter. (Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.040 General provisions.

A. Lands to Which This Chapter Applies. This chapter shall apply to all areas of special flood hazards within the city of Sequim.

B. Basis for Establishing the Areas of Special Flood Hazard. The areas of special flood hazard identified by the Federal Insurance Administration for Clallam County in a scientific and engineering report entitled, “The Flood Insurance Study for Clallam County, WA, Unincorporated Areas,” revised February 23, 2001, with accompanying flood insurance rate map panel 5300210530D, dated December 5, 1989, and any revision thereto, are adopted by reference and declared to be a part of this chapter. The best available information for flood hazard area identification, as outlined in SMC 8.36.050(B), shall be the basis for regulation until a new flood insurance rate map is issued that incorporates new data. (Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.042 Compliance required.

No structure or land shall hereafter be constructed, located, extended, converted or altered without full compliance with the terms of this chapter as well as all other applicable regulations including but not limited to the manual adopted in SMC 13.104.100. (Ord. 2017-002 § 1 (Exh. A); Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.044 Interpretation and application.

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

A. Considered as minimum requirements;

B. Liberally construed in favor of the governing body; and

C. Deemed neither to limit nor repeal any other powers granted under state statutes. (Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.046 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 manmade 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, any officer or employee thereof, or the Federal Insurance Administration, for any flood damages that result from reliance on this chapter or any administration decision made hereunder. (Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.050 Administration.

A. The city of Sequim public works director shall be primarily responsible for the administration and implementation of this chapter. The public works director shall perform the following duties:

1. Review all development permits other than for minor and major subdivisions and planned unit developments within flood hazard zones to determine:

a. That the permit requirements of this chapter have been satisfied;

b. That all necessary permits have been obtained from those federal, state or local governmental agencies from which prior approval is required;

c. If the proposed development is located in the floodway, and if so, located to assure the encroachment provisions of this chapter are complied with.

B. When base flood elevation data has not been provided in accordance with SMC 8.36.040(B), the public works director shall obtain, review and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation and floodway data available from federal, state or other source, in order to administer specific standards and floodways.

C. Obtain and record the following information:

1. Where base flood elevation data is provided through the flood insurance study, FIRM, or required as in subsection B of this section, obtain and record the actual (as-built) elevation (in relation to mean sea level) of the lowest floor (including basement) of all new or substantially improved structures, and whether or not the structure contains a basement;

2. For all new and substantially improved flood-proofed nonresidential structures:

a. Verify and record the elevation (in relation to mean sea level) to which the structure was flood-proofed.

b. Maintain the flood-proofing certifications required by this chapter.

D. Maintain for public inspection all records pertaining to the provisions of this chapter.

E. Notify adjacent communities and the Washington State Department of Ecology prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse and submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Insurance Administration.

F. Require that maintenance is provided within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse so that the flood carrying capacity is not diminished.

G. Make interpretations, where needed, as to the exact location of the boundaries of the areas of special flood hazards (e.g., where there appears to be a conflict between a mapped boundary and actual field conditions). The person contesting the location of the boundary shall be given a reasonable opportunity to appeal the interpretation pursuant to SMC 8.36.060.

H. The city of Sequim director of the department of community development shall perform the following duties:

1. Review all development permits for minor and major subdivisions and planned unit developments within flood hazard zones to determine:

a. That all necessary permits have been obtained from those federal, state or local governmental agencies from which prior approval is required.

2. Transmit to the public works director all information required under the terms of this chapter. (Ord. 2011-017 § 2; Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.060 Variance procedures.

A. Appeal to Hearing Examiner.

1. The hearing examiner as established by the city of Sequim (Chapter 2.10 SMC) hears and decides requests for variances from the requirements of this chapter.

2. The hearing examiner hears and decides requests for variances when it is alleged there is any error in any requirement or decision made by the public works director or the director of the department of community development in the administration of this chapter.

3. Those aggrieved by the decision of the hearing examiner, or any taxpayer, may appeal such decision to the Clallam County Superior Court and must follow the procedures as established in SMC 20.01.240.

B. Conditions for Variances. In addition to the review criteria established in SMC 18.72.040, the following conditions will need to be met:

1. Generally, the only condition under which a variance from the elevation standard may be issued is for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a small or irregularly shaped lot contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level. As the lot size increases the technical justification required for issuing the variance increases.

2. Variances shall not be issued within a designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.

3. Variances shall only be issued upon a determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief.

4. Variances shall only be issued upon:

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, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public, or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.

5. Variances as interpreted in the National Flood Insurance Program are based on the general zoning law principle that they pertain to a physical piece of property; they are not personal in nature and do not pertain to the structure, its inhabitants, economic or financial circumstances. They primarily address small lots in densely populated residential neighborhoods.

6. Variances may be issued for nonresidential buildings in very limited circumstances to allow a lesser degree of flood-proofing than watertight or dry flood-proofing, where it can be determined that such action will have low damage potential, complies with all other variance criteria except subsection (B)(1) of this section.

7. Any applicant to whom a variance is granted shall be given written notice that the permitted structure will be built with its lowest floor below the base flood elevation and that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk. (Ord. 2019-004 (Exh. B); Ord. 2011-017 § 2; Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.070 Permit requirements.

A. A development permit shall be required before construction or development within an area of special flood hazard established in SMC 8.36.040(B). The permit shall be for all structures including manufactured homes, as set forth in SMC 8.36.030, Definitions, and for all development including fill and other activities, also as set forth in SMC 8.36.030, Definitions.

B. The application for a flood hazard development permit shall be made on forms furnished by the city of Sequim public works department. The application may include but shall not be limited to: plans in duplicate drawn to scale showing the nature, location, dimensions, and elevations of the area in question; existing or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, drainage facilities and the location of the foregoing. Specifically, the following information shall be required:

1. Elevation in relation to mean sea level of the lowest floor, including basement, of all structures;

2. Elevation in relation to mean sea level to which any structures have been flood-proofed;

3. Certification by a registered professional engineer or architect that flood-proofing methods for any nonresidential structure meet the flood-proofing criteria of this chapter;

4. A description of the extent to which any watercourse will be altered or relocated as a result of the proposed development;

5. The applicant shall provide a habitat assessment, approved by the city, that determines that the development project will not have an adverse effect on habitat or applicant shall provide concurrence from the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) that the project is compliant with ESA. (Ord. 2011-020 § 1; Ord. 2006-018 § 1)

8.36.080 Development standards.

In all areas of special flood hazards, the following standards are required:

A. Anchoring.

1. All new construction and substantial improvements shall be anchored to prevent flotation, collapse, or lateral movement of the structure.

2. All manufactured homes shall be anchored to prevent flotation, collapse, or lateral movement, and shall be installed using methods and practices that minimize flood damage. Anchoring methods may include, but are not limited to, use of over-the-top or frame ties to ground anchors.

B. Construction Materials and Methods.

1. All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed with materials and utility equipment resistant to flood damage.

2. All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed using methods and practices that minimize flood damage.

3. Electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, and air-conditioning equipment and other service facilities shall be designed and/or otherwise elevated or located so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding.

C. Utilities.

1. All new and replacement water supply systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of flood waters into the system. Additionally, all water wells shall be located on high ground and not in the floodway.

2. New and replacement sanitary sewage systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of flood waters into the systems and discharges from the systems into flood waters.

3. On-site waste disposal systems shall be located to avoid impairment to them or contamination from them during flooding.

D. Subdivision Proposals.

1. All subdivision proposals shall be consistent with the need to minimize flood damage.

2. All subdivision proposals shall have public utilities and facilities, such as sewer, electrical and water systems located and constructed to minimize or eliminate flood damage.

3. All subdivision proposals shall have adequate drainage provided to reduce exposure to flood damage.

4. Where base flood elevation data has not been provided or is not available from another authoritative source, it shall be generated for subdivision proposals and other proposed developments which contain at least 50 lots or five acres (whichever is less).

E. Review of Building Permits. Where elevation data is not available either through the flood insurance study, FIRM, or from another authoritative source (see SMC 8.36.050(B)), applications for building permits shall be reviewed to assure that proposed construction will be reasonably safe from flooding. The test of reasonableness is a local judgment and includes use of historical data, high water marks, photographs of past flooding, etc., where available. Failure to elevate at least two feet above the highest adjacent grade in these zones may result in higher insurance rates.

F. Specific Standards. In all areas of special flood hazards where base flood elevation data has been provided as set forth in SMC 8.36.040 or 8.36.050, the following provisions are required:

1. Residential Construction.

a. New construction and substantial improvement of any residential structures shall have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated one foot or more above the base flood elevation.

b. Fully enclosed areas below the lowest floor that are subject to flooding are prohibited, or shall be designed to automatically equalize hydrostatic flood forces on external walls by allowing for the entry and exit of floodwaters. Designs for meeting this requirement must either be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect or must meet or exceed the following minimum criteria:

i. A minimum of two openings having a total net area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed area subject to flooding shall be provided.

ii. The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one foot above grade.

iii. Openings may be equipped with screens, louvers, or other coverings or devices; provided, that they permit the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters.

2. Nonresidential Construction.

a. New construction and substantial improvement of any commercial, industrial or other nonresidential structure shall either have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated one foot or more above the base flood elevation; or, together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities, shall:

i. Be flood-proofed so that below one foot or more above the base flood level, 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.

iii. Be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect that the design and methods of construction are in accordance with accepted standards of practice for meeting provisions of this subsection based on their development and/or review of the structural design, specifications and plans. Such certifications shall be provided to the official as set forth in SMC 8.36.050(C).

iv. Nonresidential structures that are elevated, not flood-proofed, must meet the same standards for space below the lowest floor as described in subsection (F)(1)(b) of this section.

3. Manufactured Homes. All manufactured homes in the floodplain to be placed or substantially improved on sites shall be elevated on a permanent foundation such that the lowest floor of the manufactured home is elevated one foot or more above the base flood elevation and be securely anchored to an adequately anchored foundation system to resist flotation, collapse and lateral movement.

4. Recreational Vehicles. Recreational vehicles placed on sites are required to either:

a. Be on the site for fewer than 180 consecutive days; or

b. Be fully licensed and ready for highway use, on wheels or jacking system, attached to the site only by quick disconnect-type utilities and security devices and have no permanently attached additions; or

c. Meet the requirements of subsection (F)(3) of this section and the elevation and anchoring requirements for manufactured homes.

5. AE and A1 – 30 Zones with Base Flood Elevations but No Floodways. In areas with base flood elevations (but regulatory floodway has not been designated), no new construction, substantial improvements, or other development (including fill) shall be permitted within Zones A1 – 30 and AE on the city’s FIRM, unless it is demonstrated that the cumulative effect of the proposed development, when combined with all other existing and anticipated development, will not increase the water surface elevation of the base flood more than one foot at any point within the community.

6. Floodways. Located within areas of special flood hazard established in SMC 8.36.040 are areas designated as floodways. Since the floodway is an extremely hazardous area due to the velocity of floodwaters that can carry debris, and increase erosion potential, the following provisions apply:

a. Prohibit encroachments, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements, and other development unless certification by a registered professional engineer is provided demonstrating through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses performed in accordance with standard engineering practice that the proposed encroachment would not result in any increase in flood levels during the occurrence of the base flood discharge.

b. Construction or reconstruction of residential structures is prohibited within designated floodways, except for:

i. Repairs, reconstruction or improvements to a structure which do not increase the ground floor area;

ii. Repairs, reconstruction or improvements to a structure, the cost of which does not exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure either before the repair or reconstruction is started or, if the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage occurred. Any project for improvement of specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions, or to structures identified as historic places, may be excluded in the 50 percent;

iii. If subsection (F)(6)(b)(i) of this section is satisfied, all new construction and substantial improvements shall comply with all applicable flood hazard reduction provisions of this chapter.

7. Critical Facility. Construction of new critical facilities shall be, to the extent possible, located outside the limits of the special flood hazard area. Construction of new critical facilities shall be permissible within this area if no feasible alternative site is available. Critical facilities constructed within this area shall have the lowest floor elevated three feet above the base floor elevation or to the height of the 500-year flood, whichever is higher. Access to and from the critical facility should also be protected to the height utilized above. Flood-proofing and sealing measures must be taken to ensure that toxic substances will not be displaced by or released into floodwaters. Access routes elevated to or above the level of the base flood elevation shall be provided to all critical facilities to the extent possible. (Ord. 2006-018 § 1)