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Share your ideas on updates to floodplain development requirements

News Article
Photo shows an open space holding flood water with dry winter grasses and split-rail fencing
The City of Portland seeks comments on proposed updates to regulations governing development in floodplains. These changes aim to reduce future flood risks and ensure that homes and businesses located in flood-prone areas continue to qualify for federal flood insurance and disaster relief funds.
In this article

The City proposes updates to maintain compliance with the minimum requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The proposed changes also seek to bring Portland’s floodplain regulations into greater compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

The City’s floodplain development code must comply with the NFIP minimum requirements. Participation in the NFIP provides residents access to federally supported flood insurance and ensures access to federal disaster relief funds. Additional flood protection measures taken by the City enable property owners to receive a 25 percent reduction on their flood insurance premiums through the Community Rating System program.

The proposed updates are guided in part by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s 2016 Biological Opinion on the implementation of the NFIP in Oregon. These changes also support FEMA’s proposed Implementation Plan to bring Oregon’s NFIP requirements into conformance with the Endangered Species Act.

If adopted by the City Council, the proposed changes would:

  • Increase flood storage requirements in critical areas close to rivers to better protect salmon and steelhead in the event of a flood,
  • Initiate updates to the City’s February 1996 Flood Inundation Area map to better reflect flood risks based on hydraulic data from the February 1996 Flood and updated river bathymetry and ground surface elevation data,
  • Create provisions to allow the use of off-site mitigation to compensate for lost flood storage due to construction,
  • Require a development permit for the construction of buildings within the floodplain that current building code regulations exempt from building permits, and
  • Require a covenant limiting the uses of enclosed spaces within the floodplain to reduce the risk of these spaces converting to uses not allowed by the floodplain regulations.

The proposed updates to Chapter 24.50 of Portland City Code are available through the link below.

Provide your ideas and feedback

You may provide written comments on the proposed draft through the Map App. Comments must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Provide your comments on this draft proposal

These proposed code changes were discussed and questions answered in a Lunch and Learn session on Thursday, July 13, from noon to 1 p.m.

What comes next

After the public comment period, Development Services will review the comments and may further revise the proposed code language for the City Council to consider.

The Portland City Council will consider an ordinance with the proposed code changes. A public hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30, with a vote by the City Council expected to follow in late September or early October.

If adopted by the City Council, the updates to better align the floodplain regulations with the State of Oregon National Flood Insurance Program Model Ordinance are expected to take effect in April 2024. Proposed increases to flood storage requirements are expected to take effect in October 2025.