Changes to the City’s Floodplain Development Code took effect March 1

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A large flooding body of water digging up the ground next to a house
Learn more about these updates to comply with federal requirements and maintain available discounts on flood insurance rates.
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Last October, the Portland City Council adopted changes to the City’s building code and zoning code that apply to development within floodplains. These changes allow the City to remain in compliance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements for development in flood hazard areas. In addition, these changes maintain current discounts on flood insurance rates for residents and property owners in the City.

The building code amendments are being applied in two parts. The first part, contained in Exhibit A of the adopted ordinance, is intended to maintain the City’s standing in the NFIP by better aligning the City’s floodplain development code with the State of Oregon’s Model Flood Hazard Ordinance. The second part, Exhibit B, increases flood storage compensation requirements for certain flood hazard areas.

The Exhibit A changes took effect on March 1. The Exhibit B changes become effective on Oct. 1. A summary of the Exhibit B changes will be provided soon.

The significant changes adopted in Exhibit A include:

  • Adoption of the Composite February 1996 Flood Inundation Area Map:  The map is a combination of the February 1996 Flood Inundation Area shown on the Metro Food Management Area map and the results of new hydraulic modeling on the Lower Willamette River applied to the Central and South Reach of the river.
  • New inspection requiring a during-construction FEMA Elevation Certificate:  The inspection requires a licensed surveyor to determine and report building and ground surface elevations upon the construction of the lowest floor to reduce the risk of errors during construction.
  • Requirement of a development permit to construct accessory structures within the flood hazard area:  These include residential buildings under 200 square feet in plan area and commercial buildings under 120 square feet in plan area that are otherwise exempt from building permit.
  • Requirements for covenants to be recorded against the property that limit the use of enclosed spaces below the flood protection elevation: These covenants will prohibit converting these spaces to habitable space.
  • New and clarified definitions and permit submittal requirements

To be vested in the previous code requirements, permit applications had to be submitted via Development Hub PDX by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 29 and meet submittal requirements. Such permit applications with missing or incomplete information, as identified by permitting bureau staff, must have that information submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 25, to allow for intake fees to be billed. The intake fees must be paid in full by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 29, to maintain vesting in the pre-March 1 code requirements.

To determine if you live or own property within the flood hazard area, the following resources are available:

  • Portland Maps: Use the address search to find the property of interest. Scroll down below the "Public Safety" tab to the “Hazard” section to see if the property is within FEMA Special (100-year) Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and/or the (February) 1996 Flood Inundation Area. If it is, the fields will return “Yes." 
This shows a sample list of flood hazard categories from Portland Maps

For more information about permit submittal and intake fees, please contact the Permitting Services division of the Bureau of Development Services at 503-823-7300.

For more information about the Title 24.50 floodplain development changes, please contact the Site Development section of the Bureau of Development Services at 503-823-7300. You may also schedule a free 15-minute appointment with a Site Development Engineer.

For information about the Floodplain Resilience Plan and the associated zoning code changes, please visit the project web page.

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