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Since 1980, the City of Petaluma has made a concerted effort to protect its floodplain and manage its development by the adoption of various ordinances, regulations and practices. The City has incorporated floodplain management goals into the City’s General Plan and created development regulation within its Zoning Ordinance (pdf). The City of Petaluma joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program in 1983 and adopted its first Floodplain Management Plan (FMP) in 1995. The current Floodplain Management Plan was approved in October of 2010.
The City of Petaluma participates in the Community Rating System (CRS) as one of its efforts to reduce the potential losses due to flooding for its citizens. This program, created by the NFIP, encourages communities to become proactive in their flood management planning activities. Under this program, participating communities receive a point rating reflective of their efforts in undertaking these activities. The CRS ratings result in reduced flood insurance premiums to floodplain residents.
In 1995, the NFIP conducted an audit of the City’s floodplain management efforts and awarded the City a Class 6 rating, thus reducing flood insurance premiums throughout the City by 20 percent. There are approximately 643 flood insurance policies currently in effect, with an annual premium of over $639,000. It is estimated that the City’s participation in the CRS program saves insured residents $127,800 per year.
Draft 2012 Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and City of Petaluma are updating the City’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps. On June 4, 2012, City and FEMA staff presented the following process and schedule update to the City Council.
- June 2012 – Draft FIRMS and FIS are placed on City’s website for public review and comment.
- June 2012 – FEMA publishes Notice of Intent and proposed flood hazard determinations in Federal Register.
- July 2012 - FEMA publishes flood hazard determinations in local newspaper.
- July 2012 – Public 90-day appeal period begins.
- July – September 2012: City holds public outreach meetings for community and affected property owners. Affected property owners will receive meeting notice via US mail. Public meeting notice will also be posted in the Argus Courier as well as the City’s website.
- October 2012: 90-day appeal period ends.
- November 2012- February 2013: FEMA and City review and resolve public comments and appeals. FEMA issues Letter of Final Determination.
- March 2013 – May 2013: City/FEMA hold additional public outreach meeting(s) to inform public of final mapping determinations. Affected property owners will receive meeting notice via US mail. Public meeting notice will also be posted in the Argus Courier as well as the City’s website.
- Fall 2013: FIRM Panels and FIS become effective.
Please note that FEMA has established the above process and schedule in conjunction with the City of Petaluma, pursuant to applicable Federal law. The above schedule is subject to change. Please contact the City’s Floodplain Administrator, Curt Bates, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (707) 778-4311 with any questions.
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The Public Works Department can assist you in determining if your property is located within the 100 year floodplain. Start by locating your property on the City of Petaluma's Zoning Map located online through the online GIS portal. By selecting the appropriate options and providing the relevant information, you can then compare your property boundary to a flood hazard area. This will give you a general idea of the proximity of your property to the 100 year floodplain. Given that these maps are not exact, if your property borders the 100 year floodplain you should give us a call (707.778.4303) to speak with a staff member, they will be able to assist you in determining if your property is within the floodplain. Be sure to contact us if you are considering purchasing or making any improvements to a property within the floodplain.
The Elevation Certificate is an important administrative tool of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is to be used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, to determine the proper insurance premium rate, and to support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment or Revision (LOMA or LOMR-F).
The Elevation Certificate is required in order to properly rate post-FIRM buildings, which are buildings constructed after publication of the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), for flood insurance Zones A1-A30, AE, AH, A (with BFE), VE, V1-V30, V (with BFE), AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/A1-A30, AR/AH, and AR/AO. The Elevation Certificate is not required for pre-FIRM buildings unless the building is being rated under the optional post-FIRM flood insurance rules. The Elevation Certificate form and instructions on how to fill it out can be found at http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/elvinst.htm; then click on Flood Insurance Library, click on forms and select Elevation Certificate.
The City of Petaluma has installed and maintains a computerized Flood Alert System to enhance its ability to provide timely emergency flood response and evacuation warning to residents in flood prone areas. This system was originally installed 15 years ago after the catastrophic floods of 1982 and has recently been updated. The system consists of ten stations which monitor river levels, rainfall and weather data.
The City of Petaluma maintains an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Emergency procedures are initiated during a flood event. These procedures were used for the first time during the 1995 flooding. Data from stream monitoring stations is radio relayed to a central computer and a central base station at the City’s Emergency Operations Center in the Police Department. Data is logged to files by the computer. The intent of the monitoring system is to enable personnel to study the cumulative impact, in real time, of inclement weather on various areas of the City. In general, when a rainfall rate of ½ inch per hour continues for more than one hour, emergency personnel begin continuous monitoring of river levels. Weather records are kept on file to document flood events and flood related claims.
As certain water elevations are registered on these gauges, various City procedures are activated. The first of these procedures is the activation of the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Once activated, City staff begins to execute standard management operation plans.
Five evacuation plans exist for the Payran area, which has been flooded most frequently over the past 20 years. These plans are labeled and prioritized, with the lowest topographical areas designated as most at risk for flooding. Once the evacuation order is given, field personnel go door-to-door to notify residents that they must leave.
When stream gauge readings reflect a pre-determined level, the National Weather Service Alert System is activated, and a flash flood warning is automatically announced to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These warnings are relayed as standard radio and TV broadcasts. In addition, the Sonoma County EOC releases warnings to the media; however it is up to the media to distribute the information at their discretion.
The Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for the City of Petaluma are available on the FEMA website or can be looked at in the Public Works Department and the Community Development Department, 11 English St. Petaluma, CA.
To help protect its citizens, particularly those in the most flood prone areas, the City has developed and continues to update its Flood Alert System. Through this system, our Police and Fire Departments will attempt to give areas at risk as much warning time as possible. The Flood Alert System is a computer system, which was installed in 1984 to monitor weather conditions and record stream heights and precipitation. The Water Resources and Conservation Department and the Fire Department monitor this system. During inclement weather the information on the computer can model the event to help determine the height of the water and the approximate time duration. This information allows emergency managers to coordinate resources and/or evacuations as needed from the Emergency Operations Center. If public safety personnel deem it necessary, notification to evacuate will be given. Residents will be advised to move to a safe area before access is cut off by floodwaters. Please remember, we have limited resources and during inclement weather we are being summoned to assist in numerous other areas of the City. We strongly suggest you take the time to formulate a family evacuation plan. In a flood emergency, the following precautions should be taken only if time permits:
- Fill containers with an adequate source of drinking water.
- Turn off all utilities, and contact P G & E to assist you in turning them back on.
- Move valuable papers and objects to higher elevations (shelves, attics, etc.).
- Bring outdoor items into the garage so that they don’t become floating debris.
- Take necessary medications with you.
- Do not walk through flowing water.
- Do not drive through flooded areas.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
The City provides three different newsletters regarding flood awareness and preparedness per year. One is sent to all residents and property owners within the city informing them of the potential dangers of flooding and what they can do to protect themselves and their property. The second letter is sent only to residents and property owners within the floodplain and provides more specific information regarding warning systems, evacuation instructions and flood insurance. The third is a letter sent to all real estate agents and lenders within the City notifying them of the programs and services the City has available. These letters are sent in the fall or early winter and are also posted below.
11 English Street
Petaluma, CA 94952
Hours: 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Monday - Thursday
Director, Public Works and Utilities
Dan St. John, F.ASCE
202 N. McDowell Blvd
Petaluma, CA 94954
Capital Improvement Program Manager,
City Engineer/Flood Plain Administrator
Curt Bates, P.E
601 Sky Ranch Drive
Petaluma, CA 94954
Hours: Mon. - Fri. 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Sat. & Sun. 8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
After Hours Service:
Call Bob Patterson at 707.753.1166
Transit Manager, Joseph Rye
555 North McDowell Blvd
Petaluma, CA 94954