FEMA Ending Mandatory Flood Insurance ("Flood Tax") Imposed in ELB & NLB since July '98; Many Residents Eligible For Refund of Final Premium Paid
Caveat: Property owners must take specific individual actions to remove flood ins. req't from their property loan and get refund of final premium
We post verbatim (pdf) image of FEMA "Letter of Map Revision"
(January 10, 2002) -- In a long awaited and welcome event locally, FEMA has announced it is ending its mandatory flood insurance zone imposed in parts of ELB and NLB since July, 1998.
FEMA's announcement came at a meeting with local insurance agents held by FEMA at Lakewood City Hall to explain the change.
LBReport.com told its readers last month that the move was imminent.
The Corps of Engineers and L.A. County recently advised FEMA that the L.A. river flood control upgrade project (LACDA) has been completed, causing FEMA to issue a "Letter of Map Revision" (LOMR) that revises its flood risk maps to return areas in ELB, NLB and Lakewood to minimal flood risk status. These areas had been bureaucratically designated at "100-year flood risk" by FEMA in July, 1998, requiring property owners with federally backed loans to buy FEMA's costly "flood insurance."
LBReport.com has posted a copy of FEMA's LOMR in pdf form at: FEMA LOMR.
(FEMA's action does not remove LB areas that were designated at 100 year flood risk, with mandatory flood insurance required, prior to July, 1998 such as parts of Belmont Shore. In those areas, the FEMA-asserted flood risk comes from other sources, including tidal action, not the L.A. river.
FEMA said property owners in ELB and NLB areas that are being removed from the flood risk area must take specific actions on their own if they wish to free themselves from the flood insurance requirement and get a refund of the final premium paid. FEMA says these property owners will have to:
Write a letter to their lender, attaching a copy of FEMA's LOMR and asking the lender to make a new flood insurance determination.
Obtain a letter from their lender acknowledging the lender's approval to end the insurance requirement for the loan. [Theoretically, a lender could require flood insurance even though FEMA does not, but as a practical matter, most do not.]
Contact the agent who sold them the flood insurance with the lender's and FEMA's letters to get the refund of their last premium.
FEMA says many ELB and NLB property owners should be eligible for a refund of their 2001 flood insurance premium if their policies were issued by the National Flood Insurance Program in response to a lender's requirement for flood insurance. Under FEMA's rules, homeowners can request a refund of their final flood insurance premium paid for the policy year in which FEMA revises its flood risk maps.
The L.A. river project was completed several years ahead of its original schedule because Congress (in large part due to work by LB Congressman Steve Horn) appropriated as much construction money as the Corps of Engineers and L.A. County said they could use each year.
Horn credits bipartisan support from other House members (including Democrat Juanita Millender-McDonald), local officials and neighborhood activists for putting LACDA on a fast track to completion.
Votes were sometimes difficult; the LACDA funding level Horn sought was more than proposed by the Clinton White House and projects sought by other House members competed for a limited amount of money. On several occasions, the Senate vote for a lower funding level than the House approved, triggering a battle to persuade a House-Senate conference committee to include the higher House-voted LACDA level in the final bill.
During the multi-year process, LB neighborhood groups and activists, including the Los Altos Neighborhood Association (LANAS) and Wrigley Association, held overflow meetings that kept the issue in the spotlight.
LB City Hall (city staff, Councilmembers and the Mayor) lobbied on Capitol Hill and with FEMA. L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe and the L.A. County Dept. of Public Works also worked in concert with area cities (notably Lakewood) comprising the "LACDA Alliance."
LBReport.com publisher Bill Pearl, who has followed FEMA's LB area proceedings since 1992, credited a combination of grassroots activism, pioneering use of the internet and effective Congressional and government advocacy with ending the "flood tax."
"I plan to post our final flood insurance bill in the smallest room in our house in a place where I can look down and see it first thing every morning," Pearl quipped.