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Public Works Dept. Agrees To Pay Up To $90,000 To George K. Deukmejian -- Former Gov's Son -- As Consultant For Public Outreach & Info Campaign Re FEMA Flood Insurance & Premium Refund Issues

Doesn't Need Council Vote Because Council Gave City Mgr. Authority In '99 To Make Contracts Under $100,000 Without Council Approval

Lakewood City Hall will handle flood insurance information campaign itself

(January 13, 2002) -- LB City Hall's Department of Public Works has agreed to pay Mr. George K. Deukmejian, the former Governor's son, up to $90,000 to serve as a consultant and conduct a public outreach and information campaign to inform affected property owners and insurance agents of FEMA flood insurance and premium refund requirements.

The arrangement doesn't require City Council approval because the City Council voted in 1999 to give the City Manager (and thus his Departments, including Public Works) authority to make contracts under $100,000 without Council approval. The Council approved raising the level for which Council approval is not required on contracts from $50,000 to $100,000 by a 9-0 vote on September 21, 1999 with virtually no Council discussion,

The Dept. of Public Works retained Mr. Deukmejian (who heads Sacramento based Deukmejian Consulting) to prepare outreach materials and, in conjunction with LB's Public Works Dept, oversee the dissemination of information to roughly 38,000 affected LB property owners and advise area insurance agents on frequently complex issues related to FEMA's removal of a "100-year" flood risk zone imposed in parts of ELB (E. of Lakewood Blvd. and E. (or N.) of PCH and NLB (generally N. of San Antonio) since July, 1998.

FEMA's removal of the flood zone on January 11, 2002 ends a federal flood insurance mandate for property owners with federally backed loans, but property owners then have to ask their lenders for permission to be freed from the flood insurance requirement and then seek refunds for the final premium paid. Property owners must take these actions in specific ways to comply with federal rules, which are complicated. ( coverage at Info on Canceling Flood Insurance (and Hopefully Getting Refund Of Final Premium Paid)

Mr. Deukmejian has not sought to conceal his consultant role, nor has City Hall. Mr. Deukmejian introduced himself to the LB media at a January 11 City Hall news briefing and explained his consulting arrangement. LB Public Works Director Ed Shikada also said the Dept. of Public Works retained Mr. Deukmejian on a fee for services basis for a sum of up to $90,000.

Mr. Deukmejian indicated his firm is providing a package of services that includes mailing roughly 38,000 information packets to affected LB property owners (his firm will absorb the cost of the mailing as part of its fee), guiding preparation of materials for public distribution and helping conduct public outreach meetings, all scheduled for the coming weeks.

During the news briefing, Mr. Deukmejian gave a verbal presentation indicating his familiarity with complex and arcane federal requirements surrounding flood insurance. He indicated to that he had become familiar with these rules during FEMA proceedings in the Sacramento area.

LB City Hall has embarked on an ambitious public information campaign that includes mailing information packets to impacted property owners, disseminating written materials and posting cyber notices on City Hall's web site, transmitting information on City Hall's cable channel 21, providing info in utility bills and establishing a telephone hotline for public inquiries (570-6784).

City Hall is not federally required to advise property owners or take these steps and some cities do not. Other cities, such as the City of Lakewood, do it themselves.

Lakewood is sending a postcard, following by a letter with details, to its roughly 8,000 affected property owners. It has also posted materials on the city's web site and telecast information on its cable TV channel. Lakewood City Hall has not retained a consultant, using its city staff instead.

Long Beach city staff has agendized an informational item (not requiring a Council action beyond "receive and file") on the FEMA developments for the January 15, 2002 City Council meeting. The item's written report to Council by Public Works Director Shikada says city staff "engaged a private consulting firm who performed a similar outreach program in the Sacramento area." Although it doesn't mention Mr. Deukmejian by name or indicate the sum involved, Mr. Shikada and Mr. Deukmejian did not hesitate to discuss these items at the Jan. 11 media briefing.

Pertinent portions of city staff's memo to Councilmembers follow:

From our experience in 1998, when a portion of Long Beach was relieved of flood insurance requirements, and with more revisions forthcoming, staff determined that a public outreach effort would be the most effective means to pass on this information to property owners. It was also determined that the real estate community and insurance agents should be included in the outreach to be made aware of these changes.

In anticipation, staff has engaged a private consulting firm who performed a similar outreach program in the Sacramento area. The scope of the outreach program is as follows:

  • Training was held on January 10 to provide City staff with the information to respond to residents' questions about the FEMA map changes.

  • A press release, "Flood Insurance Relief on The Way for Long Beach Property Owners," was prepared for release on January 11.

  • Informational mailers to approximately 38,000 residential and commercial property owners will be prepared to explain how to apply for a refund, with information for those who wish to maintain their coverage on how to apply for low-cost, preferred risk flood insurance.

  • Informational mailers to insurance agents are being prepared in order to help them assist Long Beach property owners to cancel flood insurance policies. The City will also host a seminar on February 8 to provide insurance agents with information on how to process residential and commercial property owners’ requests to cancel flood insurance, and how to determine eligibility for low-cost, preferred risk insurance and how to process flood insurance refunds.

  • Community open houses will be held in each of the Council districts affected by the FEMA map revisions. A schedule of dates and sites for these open houses is being planned and will be published on the City’s web page.

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