New map sinks part of San Mateo in flood zone

It is not global warming that will place more neighborhoods of San Mateo in a “flood hazard” area, but rather an updated map from the federal government that could also mean an increase in homeowners insurance for many residents.

In preparation for January’s preliminary updated Flood Insurance Rate Map from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the San Mateo City Council reviewed its extensive flood improvement program and the many unfunded projects still to come.

The new map — originally due out this month but delayed by FEMA —will place much ofSan Mateo south of state Route 92 in a flood hazard area, requiring flood-insurance plans for homeowners.

The change could move housing in some areas out of reach for its current residents and possibly affect housing sales and property values.

“It’s very difficult to quantify what kind of impact it’s going to have, but it will raise their homeowners insurance when they need flood insurance,” San Mateo Realtor Peter Aiello said.

Those plans — not traditionally offered in homeowners insurance packages — could rise above $1,000 annually, said Councilmember Brandt Grotte — especially once FEMA finalizes its flood maps.

San Mateo is beginning to plan at least seven improvement projects east of U.S. Highway 101, but without funding, they will have to wait for federal or state grants, said Deputy Public Works Director Susanna Chan.

“We want to advance those processes so we can compete for federal and state funding,” Chan said. “If you’re ready to go to construction you can rank higher when you’re fighting for a grant, so we want to be ready in case an opportunity comes up.”

The city is also proposing the approximately 3,750 residents in the area south of San Mateo Creek and east of Highway 101 create an assessment district to raise

$2.6 million to raise levees. With proper flood precautions in place, Grotte said residents in those areas would not need the insurance plans.

Among the planned improvements are pump-station rehabilitations at Coyote Point and the east end of Poplar Avenue. There are also levee projects at four points along the Bay and creek or culvert improvements at two sites.

Chan said the pump stations are the city’s priority, because without backup generators, the stations risk blackout during storms. Four years ago, the Coyote Point pumping station went down in a storm and backup generators had to be driven in.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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