FEMA Flood Hazard Maps to Guide Montecito Rebuilding
Source: Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara County officials and residents of debris-damaged Montecito neighborhoods are awaiting the arrival of updated flood hazard maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Draft maps are expected in mid-May with final public mapping available in June, following a Board of Supervisors hearing.
The updated FEMA maps will provide a critical guide to future development decisions in Montecito, officials said. “These new maps will be a key tool the community will use to rebuild homes,” said Matt Pontes, Assistant County Executive Officer for Santa Barbara County. “Because the older FEMA maps no longer reflect current conditions, these updated maps will be our guiding documents moving forward.”
The maps will show updated flood plains – areas that can be expected to flood in heavy rainfalls – and new elevations that resulted from the 1/9 Debris Flow. The maps do not directly determine where structures can and cannot be built, officials said. “The maps will guide how future development will proceed, not if future development will proceed,” Pontes said. “The decision of whether or not to rebuild rests entirely with the private property owners of Montecito. The FEMA maps will help guide how that process takes shape.” However, structures rebuilt within the flood plains may require more costly safety features, Pontes said.
“The key in rebuilding is resiliency,” said Pontes. “To build safely, in a way that protects against future incidents, some homes may have to be elevated, repositioned, or moved. The FEMA maps will help provide that guidance.”
Residents will have the opportunity to obtain additional information and ask questions at an upcoming public forum on Tuesday, May 1 at 6 p.m. at the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St., Fourth Floor Hearing Room. Officials from the following agencies will be available for questions: Santa Barbara County, CALFIRE, U.S. Forest Service, FEMA as well as flood insurance specialists. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will conduct an additional hearing once the maps are available for public review.