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Six Feet Under
Don Mosier | Rimini Road

The new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Risk Map for Del Mar was reviewed at a sparsely attended public meeting on May 15th. The existing base flood elevation for protection against a 100-year flood is 10 feet. This means that new homes built in the flood zones must have habitable rooms built 10 feet above grade. The new base flood elevation will be increased to 16 feet when the new FEMA map goes into effect, projected to be December 20, 2019.

Much of the meeting was devoted to flood insurance requirements for properties in the flood risk zone. The advice was to secure flood insurance before the new map goes into effect, to secure certain grandfather rights with respect to property ratings. FEMA provides a maximum of $250,000 coverage for private residence structures (a bit more for contents), but Del Mar property values dictate higher coverage, which can be secured on the private market, based on rebuilding costs.
There were several questions about seawall heights given the 6-foot increase in base flood elevation. Seawalls would generally need to be at least 16 feet tall to prevent wave overtopping, but rock revetment might reduce the height. Many Del Mar seawalls were not shown on the new map, because they do not meet FEMA protection criteria or are predicted to be overtopped in a 100-year storm.
There was a review of procedures to amend or revise the FEMA map for individual properties. Homeowners can submit a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) with a survey to document that the lowest adjacent grade to their property is above the 16-foot base flood elevation. For existing seawalls not shown on the map where the owners can document compliance with FEMA standards, they can submit technical information (with a fee) to request a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) that will certify their wall and potentially reduce their insurance costs. More information is available on the City of Del Mar and FEMA websites.

See video of the May 15th FEMA meeting on the Sandpiper website.


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