Participation in the National Flood Insurance Program is important to the City of Pearland and over 6,000 of its residents. This is evidenced by the City’s commitment to regulating development and redevelopment, by its adoption of provisions that exceed the minimum requirements, and by its active pursuit of mitigation opportunities. The City is firmly committed to continued compliance with the NFIP.
Pearland satisfied requirements for initial participation in the NFIP and joined the Emergency Program in 1978. Upon issuance and final approval of the Flood Insurance Rate Map in July 1984, the City joined the Regular Program. The effective Flood Insurance Rate Map for Pearland has been revised a number of times to reflect more detailed information and changes to the floodplain, and is now used as the minimum flood hazard area within which development must conform to floodplain management regulations.
Regulations Review. A review of the City’s floodplain regulations and subdivision standards was prepared and City staff were interviewed. The review, on file with the Administration Department, was performed to ensure continued compliance with the NFIP and to identify opportunities to clarify regulatory language. The regulations are consistent with the NFIP. The findings suggest the following:
Minor revisions could remove language not pertinent to Pearland (e.g., related to coastal floodplains, AO Zones);
Clarification of provisions related to substantial improvement and substantial damage may improve administration;
Using the boundaries of the SFHA to determine regulated areas, regardless of the relationship of topography and the Base Flood Elevation, may overlook some low areas; and
If a builder changes a building design after approval of the subdivision plat (on which BFE and lowest floor elevations are specified); current processing procedures may not ensure that the City’s floodplain manager reviews the changes. However, there is no indication that this situation has occurred in the past.
Land Use & Urban Development Ordinance No. 509-H (revised April 22, 2002). The ordinance provides for and defines the Floodway District, but it is not in use as of mid-2003. The Land Use Plan is a map that shows future land use by color comparison; the mapped floodplain is not delineated as a separate land use. A separate report on the flood provisions of the ordinance is on file with the Administration Department.
Community Assistance Visit. The final determination of a 1999 Community Assistance Visit was that "the City has an excellent floodplain management program."
The Community Rating System. The review of the floodplain regulations also served to identify measures adopted by Pearland that mayqualify for credit under the NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS). The CRS is intended to recognize and encourage management of flood hazard areas above the minimum requirements of the NFIP. The CRS offers discounts on the cost of federal flood insurance to those citizens who reside within recognized communities. The City completed and submitted a CRS application in mid-2003. A verification visit was completed on November 11, 2003, and the City anticipates entering the CRS program sometime in 2004. Based on 2004 Repetitive Loss data, there are 252 RL properties within the City, making Pearland a Repetitive Loss Category C. Of the 252 repetitive loss properties, 54 are included in FEMA’s Target Group.
Nationwide, the average NFIP premium for $100,000 in coverage property in A Zones and AE Zones is on the order of $500. Thus, in communities with a 5% CRS discount, policyholders see, on average, annual savings of $25. The cost of the average B, C, and X Zone policy is $150; thus policyholder savings in these zones outside of the 100-year floodplain would be only $7.50 per year. Regardless of the CRS discount available in A and AE Zones, which goes up in 5-percent increments, the discount on B, C, and X Zones is capped at 5%.
For the City of Pearland’s residents, cost savings due to the CRS discount can be estimated. It is important to note that the total number of flood insurance policies exceeds the number of buildings within the mapped flood hazard area. Therefore, for the purpose of this estimate, a CRS discount of only 5% is assumed to apply to all policies. As of December 2002, the NFIP reports that 6,419 flood insurance policies are in force in Pearland and policyholders pay almost $2 million per year in premiums. Therefore, a 5% discount would yield a total savings for property owners of about $100,000 each year.
An independent report identifying possible points based on the City’s current program, as well as a number of reasonable and feasible additional activities that may qualify for CRS points, is on file with the Administration Department. The following are the key opportunities:
Floodplain ordinance requires the lowest floor, including basement, to be elevated at least one-foot above the Base Flood Elevation.
Floodplain ordinance requires that all fill places in the floodplain be mitigated by compensating cut so that no increase in flood levels results.
New development is required to provide on-site management of increased runoff associated with the 100-year storm (or contribute to regional detention).
Significant efforts related to drainage maintenance and improvements are underway.
More than 90 homes have been acquired and demolished to provide open space.
Significant public information efforts provide opportunities to continue to reach out to residents about flood hazards, mitigating damage, and flood insurance.
6.6 Ongoing and Previous Mitigation Initiatives
Dealing with flood hazards, the most significant natural hazard in Pearland, is not a new proposition for the City. Indeed, as described in Section 3.2, several of the City’s goals and objectives for 2003-2004 are directly related to flooding and drainage. Those objectives and specific studies and projects are described in the following subsections.