The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulates the City’s Floodplain Management Program and is responsible for the publication of the flood insurance rate maps (FIRM) that dictate levels of flood risk throughout the United States. These at-risk areas were identified by FEMA through their exhaustive analysis of hydrological studies as reported in FEMA’s Flood Insurance Study. Recent FIRM updates include areas along the City of San Diego’s coastal zones in the communities of South Mission Beach, North Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Bird Rock to La Jolla Shores as shown in FEMA’s Flood Map Changes Viewer.
These maps show what's known as the Special Flood Hazard Areas, which are used by mortgage lenders to help protect you and the property in case of an unfortunate flood event. The updated FIRMs for most of the coastal San Diego properties resulted in their flood ranking changing from a low/moderate risk to now being at a high risk of flooding. Properties located within these areas that have an active mortgage from a federally-regulated lender are required to have flood insurance.
FEMA started the re-mapping effort in Jan. 2012 to Apr. 2016. During that time, several community meetings were held in addition to a public review period. The updated FIRMs went into effect on Dec. 20, 2019, and property owners are being notified by mortgage lenders if flood insurance is now required.
As a resident of the City of San Diego, those who are required to purchase flood insurance may be eligible to receive subsidized flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is a government program that is only available to cities that actively comply with FEMA’s floodplain management standards. The City of San Diego renewed its compliance with FEMA in Dec. 2019.
Affected property owners may visit FEMA’s website for more information regarding flood insurance.
For more information please contact our Floodplain Administrator, Sean Torres, at FloodMgmt@sandiego.gov or 858-541-4348.