15 Aug 2008

Build Underwater Fast!

This op/ed highlights how local politicians care little about safety -- and a lot about new real estate developments:
Effective on Dec. 8, the federal government will place the Natomas basin in a new flood hazard zone. Any development permitted after that date will have to be elevated three feet or more. The designation will effectively restrict new construction in Natomas until its levees are upgraded in roughly two years.


But just to make sure developers know about the deadline, the city and county of Sacramento have issued a press release. Yes, a press release! The notice urges builders "to plan ahead as they look to build in the Natomas floodplain" and get their permit applications submitted well before the Dec. 8 deadline.


This is a fine kettle of fish. The federal government, which is trying to protect taxpayers who subsidize flood insurance in Natomas and other flood basins, has called for a "timeout" on new development....

Yet the city and county, supposedly partners with the state and federal governments in upgrading Natomas, are now encouraging developers to hurry up and build in a new flood hazard zone.
Luckily, the real estate slump will probably restrict those applications, but I'd love to see the disclosures that housebuyers will have to sign off...

"I realize that the house I am buying is built in an area that's probably going to be underwater soon. I have a boat ready and can swim at least 200 yards with a Starbucks Frappucino in one hand."

Bottom Line: Blame subsidies. If Natomas and Sacramento had to pay 100% of the costs of flood insurance and levee improvements, we wouldn't see this garbage.