District 3 Race: Natomas Levees & Building Moratorium

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz


THE NATOMAS BUZZ invited the seven candidates running for the District 3 city council seat to participate in a series of articles wherein they answer questions submitted by readers. Today’s question asked,

“There are two homes in my South Natomas neighborhood which have are behind chain link fences because they were partially destroyed by fire. How do you plan to work with FEMA, Congress and insurance companies to change the current law that will allow homeowners in the Natomas basin to rebuild their fire-damaged houses without having to adhere to unrealistic height requirements?”

Here are the answers submitted by the deadline, in the order they were received:

adamsartainThere has been substantial attention to flood issues in recent times for that reason, among many others, of the burned homes that require an outrageously unfeasible heightening of the properties to allow rebuilding. Angelique Ashby has done tremendous work in recent months in travelling to Washington to impress upon federal entities and congress the need for a responsible change of policy in these issues. We need to continue the good momentum gained and get at least some basic agreements in place quickly that will enable area homeowners to appropriately care for their properties if issues like these arise. I intend to participate fully in future trips and negotiations upon election to council.

efrenguttierrezMy understanding is that the moratorium will be left within the next year. If I can assist in some way, I will try. Need to look into what those height requirement and restriction that might exist and see what can be done.

don@DonNahhas.comYes this is a concern, with the most recent fire on Pebblewood Dr. My deepest condolences to the families who lost their homes. It is my understanding that we are close from lifting a building moratorium and US Congress has reached a deal on the legislation we need to fix our levees thanks to the dedicated leadership of Congresswoman Doris Matsui and City Council Member Angelique Ashby. I will make every effort to assist homeowners during this transition.

jeffharrisThe fact that these homeowners are held hostage by unrealistic rules created by FEMA is a travesty. The neighborhood suffers as well, since these homes are currently a danger and an urban blight. They should be allowed to rebuild without the base flood plain elevation restrictions, especially now that WRRDA is near passage. As a council member, I would work with representative Matsui to allow these homeowners to be exempted from FEMA restrictions and the 50% rule which states that the restoration work must be less than 50% of the valuation of the home prior to the fire damage. Additionally I would propose a council resolution to support the exemption, and make this a priority for our federal legislative package. Once exempted, the City could issue building permits, work could commence without valuation or height restrictions, and the homeowners (who continue to pay insurance and mortgages) can move home.

ellencochraneWhen I was walking precincts in Natomas I met Jennifer Taylor. She’s an expert on this issue because she is one of the victims of the no rebuild FEMA law. She and her family had to abandon their house after a terrible fire, but still they pay insurance and the mortgage. On May 9, 2014 the Water Resources Development Act finally passed out of committee and moved on to Congress for a vote. Next stop – President Obama’s desk. My role as a councilmember would be to advocate for the swift application of funds and lobby insurance companies to act quickly to make sure that relief is directed straight toward the rebuild victims. Pulling permits to rebuild won’t be available overnight. In retrospect, victims should’ve been granted a waiver to rebuild while the FEMA ban was in place. Nontheless, Natomas is on the move. The oppressive moratorium’s days are numbered.

deaneThe building moratorium in Natomas has hurt new business development, home values and construction related projects. The rebuilding of fire damaged structures also falls under the federal government restrictions related to the needed levee upgrades. As your councilman I will use proven government and business advocacy and problem solving skills to effectively address the rebuilding of the levees and deal with unique problems caused by the moratorium. There is little reason for anyone but our local planning department to be concerned about rebuilding existing structures damaged by fire to their pre-existing condition. To prevent building former structures encourages years of blight in our neighborhoods. It is also inappropriate to restrict repairs to existing housing. We need to bring common sense and a can do approach back to our city to truly serve our residents and neighborhoods.

cyrilshahWe must remove the building moratorium in Natomas.
As an American River Flood Control District Trustee, I have been actively working to strengthen our levees. As your reader pointed out, our lack of proper flood protection is a public safety issue AND an economic issue that can hurt Natomas residents. I serve as a Director of the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA), and just this week we have made some great progress that will benefit Natomas. Working with our Congress members in D.C., we are very close to authorizing millions of dollars in levee improvements. This money will create local jobs, and be a huge step towards getting the building moratorium lifted. Then homeowners can demand money from their insurance companies and rebuild their homes.

THE NATOMAS BUZZ will be running a series of Q&A posts leading up to election day in June 2014. Submit your questions for candidates to [email protected].

Speak Your Mind