Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established regulations and restrictions regarding any construction or development within areas designated as Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). These areas are often referred to as the 100-year floodplain, which means there is a one percent annual chance that this area will be flooded during a storm. Special Flood Hazard Areas are shown on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). In City of Orange, the Special Flood Hazard Areas are in the vicinity of Santa Ana River, Santiago Creek, and Handy Creek. City of Orange Municipal Code Chapter 15.60 establishes the code and regulations regarding floodplain management within the City.
Construction of any kind is not permitted in the Special Flood Hazard Area without first obtaining approval by the City Public Works Department. A Grading Permit is required to ensure that development is in compliance with the City Ordinance and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Making improvements within the Special Flood Hazard Area without proper consideration of flood flow and flood mitigation could potentially result in loss of life and property. Proper review and permitting ensure that cuts and fills, landscaping, new improvements, and any other man-made changes do not obstruct flood flows and consequently resulting in flooding of properties outside of the floodplain.
For general information regarding National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):
To find out whether your property is within the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area, contact City Public Works Department. A copy of the FIRM map (Flood Insurance Rate Map) is available for your review at the City Public Works Department.
You may also view the FIRM map in FEMA Map Service Center:
Developments adjacent to a Federal or State of California “blue line” watercourse may also require permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers http://www.usace.army.mil/, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov/, California Department of Fish and Game https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/, California Coastal Commission http://www.coastal.ca.gov/, and other Federal and State agencies. If required, these permits need to be issued prior to the issuance of a Grading Permit or a Building Permit from the City.
Doing Work within the Special Flood Hazard Area
A grading application should be filed with the City Public Works Department to begin the process of doing work within the Special Flood Hazard Area. The City staff can evaluate the type of the work and advise the property of course of action to take in order to obtain permission to construct.
Working within the 100-Year Floodplain without a Permit
Doing work within the Special Flood Hazard Area without a permit is a violation of the City Flood Damage Prevention ordinance (O.M.C. 15.60) and a violation of the City Grading Ordinance (O.M.C. 16.40). Violators may be subjected to legal actions including a misdemeanor charge.
Existing Improvements that Encroached into the Special Flood Hazard Area
Any improvements, such as patios, retaining walls, horse stables, or buildings, built within the Special Flood Hazard Area may be cited for code violation. Property owner should take prompt action to remove such encroachment and restore the floodplain to its original condition
Do I Need Flood Insurance?
Flood Insurance is required for all federally insured mortgages for properties in or partially in a Special Flood Hazard Area as shown on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Your lender will advise you about the requirement for flood insurance.
Please note that a property not in a Special Flood Hazard Area may be damaged by a flood greater than that predicted on the Flood Insurance Rate Map or from a local drainage problem not shown on the map. A Flood Insurance Prefer Policy is available at a reduced rate for properties not in a Special Flood Hazard Area. Check with your homeowners insurance provider for details.