Floodplain Ordinance Amendment

Baker City's floodplain ordinance was last amended in 2002 and needs to be amended again to ensure that Baker City's Code is consistent with the minimum regulations required as a condition of the City's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The primary benefits of participating in the NFIP include subsidized flood insurance for property owners, disaster funding, and disaster assistance.

What does this mean to you?

  • FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) prepared a Flood Insurance Study (FIS) in 1988 to determine the floodplain boundaries in Baker County. If you have an insurable structure located within the floodplain, mortgage companies will require flood insurance in order to obtain new financing. Because the City of Baker City volunteered to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and adopted local floodplain management regulations, our citizens are eligible to obtain NFIP flood insurance for approximately $300-$1,200 per year rather than private flood insurance which costs closer to $12,000 per year. The insurance rates are based on the elevation of your structure in relation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) determined by the FIS. Basically, the higher your structure is above the BFE, the less your flood insurance costs.
  • Baker City's Floodplain Ordinance was first adopted in 1980 and was amended in 1984, 1987, and 2002. A floodplain development permit is required for new construction in the floodplain to ensure that the structure's lowest floor is one foot above the BFE (Base Flood Elevation). To verify this, an Elevation Certificate prepared by a surveyor must be submitted. One of the major amendments proposed is that two additional Elevation Certificates will be required for a total of three to make sure that insurable assets are protected (page 16). The lowest floor elevations to certify are:
    1. Before construction to set the design elevation.
    2. During construction upon placement of the lowest floor; and prior to further vertical construction so as to prevent a costly mistake.
    3. After construction to confirm the actual as-built elevation. This is required to obtain flood insurance.
  • All proposed amendments are shown in Ordinance No. 3310. The black text is the current code language; the red text is new proposed code language; and the strikethrough text is proposed wording to be removed. Some of the other major amendments proposed include a requirement that any fencing installed must be designed to allow passage of flood waters (page 28); and additional anchoring requirements for RV's that are not highway-ready (page 27), so they don't become floating projectiles.
  • Please note that only new development (see definition on page 7) or substantial improvements (50% of the market value-definition on page 10) to existing structures located within the 100-year floodplain are subject to the floodplain regulations. Structures built before the 1988 FIS (Flood Insurance Study) are considered to be pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) and are exempt.
  • If Baker City fails to adopt the minimum regulations, participation in the NFIP will be suspended and NFIP flood insurance will no longer be available to City residents. Mortgage companies could force property owners to purchase private flood insurance. Existing NFIP policies would continue for the remainder of the one-year term, but could not be renewed.

April 17, 2012 UPDATE

In order to achieve substantial compliance with the NFIP's new regulations, staff is proposing to move forward with the Floodplain Ordinance Amendment with the objectionable section removed (Zones with Base Flood Elevations but no Regulatory Floodway). Our justification for doing so is that we believe the established river channel should be designated as the regulatory floodway similar to the rest of town, and we will proceed to administer the regulations as if it were until such time that FEMA is able to update our flood study and maps.

Click here to download a copy of the Floodplain Ordinance revised per the comments received at previous hearings. On April 18th the Planning Commission may consider making a recommendation to the City Council for approval, approval with modifications, or table for further review.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Planner Jenny Long at (541) 523-8219 or jlong@bakercounty.org. The Planning Department Office is also open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. if you would like to meet in person. We are located in the basement of the Baker County Courthouse at 1995 Third Street, Baker City.