Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) Building Restrictions
New Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) have been issued for San Joaquin County and became effective on October 16, 2009. Building restrictions apply in areas designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas (Zone A).
Once a parcel is designated as Special Flood Hazard Area (Zone A), building restrictions will apply to new construction, reconstruction and additions, including but not limited to a requirement to elevate new and existing structures above the base flood elevation.
The following documents provide the process for building on parcels designated as Zone A:
- SFHA Building Restrictions Flow Chart (PDF - 1 page)
- Building Permit Application Disclosure (PDF - 2 pages)
- SFHA Building Plans Stamp (PDF - 1 page)
- FEMA Building Restrictions - Substantial Improvement/Damage (PDF - 9 pages)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is undertaking a Flood Insurance Rate Map update for San Joaquin County, including all the cities in the County, under what is referred to as the Map Modernization Program. The new "Flood Insurance Rate Maps" (FIRMs) will provide flood insurance rate zones and replace the existing paper maps for our area that are over 25 years old. Recent flooding disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, have resulted in a reevaluation of local flood risk and protection.
Electronic copies of the maps are available on the San Joaquin County Public Works web site. From the San Joaquin County web site, property owners can enter the APN and physical address of the property to determine if it will be considered a Special Flood Hazard Area or Zone A (high-risk for flood) using the Flood Zone Viewer.
Flood Insurance Requirements
Preliminary flood maps became effective on October 16, 2009, and flood insurance requirements for some areas have changed. If you have a mortgage on property identified on the final maps as being in a high-risk area, known as a "Special Flood Hazard Area," you may be required by your mortgage company or lender to carry flood insurance. Insurance obtained prior to the adoption of the final maps will be at lower premiums.
Insurance is available for businesses, homeowners, and renters. Both buildings and contents can be insured. All property owners and renters are strongly encouraged to consider flood insurance, whether or not you are in a "Special Flood Hazard Area."
If your property is not in a "Special Flood Hazard Area," you are not required to purchase or maintain flood insurance. However, the cost of insuring your home or business and its contents against flood damage is far less expensive than the cost of repair or replacement after a flood. For example, currently the average single-family home and its contents, not in a "Special Flood Hazard Area," may be insured for coverage of $250,000 for the building and $100,000 in contents for as little as approximately $350 annually for residential properties.
Please consult your insurance agent for premiums and coverage limits. Insurance premiums will vary depending on many factors, including flood risk zone as it appears on the final FIRMs and insurance company fees. To understand your insurance rates and requirements, please contact your insurance agent or contact the National Flood Insurance Program.
Flooding: A Costly Disaster
San Joaquin County is largely surrounded by water, protected by levees, and experiences periodic flooding. Flooding is the most likely natural hazard to occur in our area. When flooding occurs, it can be a costly disaster. Knowing your flood risk zone will help you to take the appropriate steps for flood protection. Flood risk varies from property to property, and risk changes over time, due to erosion, land use, weather events and other factors. Flooding can and will occur in high-, moderate-, and low-risk areas. Historically, 20 to 25 percent of all claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are outside of "Special Flood Hazard Areas."
Flood Protection Improvements
Most of the area's existing flood control facilities, including levees, are maintained to provide the currently required level of flood protection. However, stricter standards from the federal and state governments are likely to necessitate additional improvements for some levees and will require some property owners to purchase flood insurance. A higher level of long-term flood protection will ultimately be required in our urban areas to guard against historically infrequent, but potentially severe, high-water events.
Changes to Preliminary Flood Maps
Local flood officials are working closely with State and Federal agencies to identify areas that meet the flood protection requirements. As a result, several areas previously identified as "high-risk" on the preliminary maps have been changed to "low- to moderate-risk" or provided with provisional accreditation. It is important to check the flood maps to see if the risk level for your address has changed. Electronic copies of the maps are available on the San Joaquin County Public Works web site.
Additional Flood Information
- Flood Safety Information for City of Stockton Brochure.
- General information about flood insurance, please see National Flood Insurance Program under external links.
- To find a local agent contact the National Flood Insurance Program or check your local Yellow Pages
- National Flood Insurance Program Referral Center is listed under External Links below.
- FEMA Map Assistance Center 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Open Mon-Fri, 5am-3:30pm PST
- To view, or purchase flood hazard maps for a nominal fee contact FEMA using the information provided under External Links below
Frequent Asked Questions - San Joaquin County Public Works Department web site
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or call 1-800-358-9616
National Flood Insurance Program or call 1-888-379-9531
This City of Stockton webpage last reviewed on --- 3/23/2011