Floodplain Management



Flood Zone Project Design Links

The San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and the City of Palo Alto invite residents of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park to a community meeting regarding the latest changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and flood insurance rates.  A new law approved in 2012 and recently modified makes significant changes to flood insurance rates and policies that affect residents and businesses in the FEMA-designated floodplain.

Meeting Details
Changes in the Cost of Flood Insurance: How it Affects You
Date:  Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time:  7:30 p.m.
Location:  Palo Alto Council Chambers, 250 Hamilton Avenue
The meeting will also be cablecast live on Government Channel 26 and webcast live on the Media Center website at:
http://midpenmedia.org/local-tv/watch-now/

Edie Lohmann, NFIP Flood Insurance Specialist, will present information on the latest legislative changes, how they affect your insurance, and answer questions about flood insurance, elevation certificates, and related topics.

For more information, visit www.sfcjpa.org.

ATTENTION:  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a letter revalidating Letters of Map Amendment (LOMAs) in conjunction with the issuance of the new Flood Insurance Rate Map, effective May 18, 2009.  If your lender or insurance agent questions the validity of your LOMA because of the issuance of the new flood map, you should send a copy of this letter to document that the LOMA has been revalidated.  If you have questions or need further information, please visit the City’s Development Center at 285 Hamilton Avenue or contact Public Works engineering at (650) 329-2151.

In order to make flood insurance available to residents and businesses throughout the United States, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968, with the government acting as the insurance underwriter.  Flood insurance is made available on a community basis once a community has joined the NFIP and agreed to enforce a set of federally-based standard floodplain management regulations through adoption of a local ordinance.  The floodplain management ordinance regulates land development within the designated floodplain in order to minimize the risk of flood damages.  The NFIP was placed under the jurisdiction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its Flood Insurance Administration (FIA). 

Palo Alto joined the NFIP in the late 1970s, and FEMA/FIA issued the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for the City of Palo Alto in 1980.  The FIRM designates the flood zone for properties throughout the City and identifies those properties that are within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).  Properties in the SFHA are projected to be subject to flooding in the event of the 1% (100-year) flood event and are subject to the City’s Flood Hazard Regulations (Palo Alto Municipal Code Chapter 16.52).

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) and Panels
The FIRM for the City of Palo Alto is broken down into multiple map panels.  The City of Palo Alto has been assigned the Community Number 060348, which is a unique identifier.  When identifying the FIRM map panel for a particular property, the complete map designation includes the Community Number, the Panel Number, and a letter indicating the map revision level.  Thus, a given parcel of land might be on FIRM 060348-0010H.  At this time all Palo Alto FIRM panels are at revision level H, indicating a revision date of May 18, 2009.

Each of the issued panels displays a portion of the city at a scale of 1" = 500', showing the boundaries of the various flood zones.  As might be expected, the scale is quite small and it is frequently difficult to determine the exact location of a flood zone boundary with respect to a given parcel of land, particularly if that parcel happens to lie on or near the boundary.  Public Works Engineering staff at the City’s Development Center, located at 285 Hamilton Avenue, can assist with the identification of the correct flood zone designation for a specific parcel.  In addition, the online Flood Zone Lookup tool will allow users to determine the flood zone designation for their property simply by inputting a site address.

New Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map issued for City of Palo Alto

Effective May 18, 2009, FEMA issued a new digital FIRM for the City of Palo Alto and the rest of Santa Clara County.  As of this date, the older version of the FIRM can no longer be used to identify the flood zone designation of properties in the City of Palo Alto.  The new FIRM is primarily a conversion of the existing paper-based FIRM to a digitally-based product.  As a result of the conversion, no additional properties were added to or removed from the Special Flood Hazard Area.  The conversion of the FIRM to digital format also included the conversion of the vertical datum of the mapping and the Base Flood Elevations from the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD29) to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88).

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2014
Flood Zone Descriptions: Zone AE 10.5
A lot of people call Public Works Engineering with the simple question, "What flood zone am I in?" followed by, "What's that mean?" Here's an explanation of the meaning of the various flood zones.
[more]

Flood Zone Descriptions: Zone A0
A lot of people call Public Works Engineering with the simple question, "What flood zone am I in?" followed by, "What's that mean?" Here's an explanation of the meaning of the various flood zones.
[more]

Flood Zone Descriptions: Zone AH
A lot of people call Public Works Engineering with the simple question, "What flood zone am I in?" followed by, "What's that mean?" Here's an explanation of the meaning of the various flood zones.
[more]

Flood Zone Lookup
The entire city of Palo Alto is in a flood zone of one kind or another
[more]

Flood Zone Descriptions: Zone ACr
A lot of people call Public Works Engineering with the simple question, "What flood zone am I in?" followed by, "What's that mean?" Here's an explanation of the meaning of the various flood zones.
[more]

Flood Zone Descriptions: Flood Zone X
A lot of people call Public Works Engineering with the simple question, "What flood zone am I in?" followed by, "What's that mean?" Here's an explanation of the meaning of the various flood zones.
[more]

LOMA/LOMR
Learn about the procedure for obtaining a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR).
[more]

Flood Zone Descriptions: Zone A
A lot of people call Public Works Engineering with the simple question, "What flood zone am I in?" followed by, "What's that mean?" Here's an explanation of the meaning of the various flood zones.
[more]

Substantial Damage and Improvement
The purpose of this document is to answer many of the questions regarding FEMA regulations and policy on substantial improvement as it applies to damaged structures

[more]

Q&A About Flood Insurance
Although the City of Palo Alto does not deal directly with insurance matters, its personnel are frequently asked questions about flood insurance.
[more]

Q&A About Flood Zones
Here are some questions asked about flood zones.
[more]

San Francisquito Creek JPA
Works on flooding and environmental preservation
[more]