Commentary: No New Building

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, July 27, 2007

Later this year, federal officials will make a crucial decision that could affect growth in the Natomas area of Sacramento.

Because of problems found in the levees of Natomas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency must change the flood maps for this area. The new maps will require property owners to buy flood insurance. And FEMA could go even further – by restricting new development in Natomas.

City and county officials are lobbying to prevent such restrictions. They want FEMA to grant the same designation that Natomas received in the 1980s: No limits on development until the levees are fixed, in two or three years.

This sounds reasonable, right? Well, no it doesn’t.

Much has changed since the 1980s. Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, and court decisions have made the state of California more liable for flood damages.

FEMA needs to enforce a uniform standard nationwide. That means no new building in areas that lack adequate flood protection. Its tough medicine for Sacramento, but it’s the right thing to do.


Stuart Leavenworth writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.