Flood Insurance in Westwood Gardens:
Many of our homes are in the 100-year floodplain as shown on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) dated 1980. We are in a zone indicating shallow flooding one foot in depth (Zone AO). (It is unclear where this flood would come from but it is on the official map.) Homes purchased or refinanced or used as equity for a second trust deed after 1980 may be required to carry flood insurance which can be expensive.
It is possible in some cases to obtain a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA that amends the official map to show that your house is essentially an island at least one foot above the flood. This puts you out of the flood zone and can eliminate the requirement for flood insurance*. To apply for a LOMA you need to do the following:
1. Be willing to assume the risk of a flood damaging the structures on your property. Homeowner’s insurance generally does not cover floods.
2. Walk around your house and see if the ground around your house is at least one foot above the highest ground at any curb.
3. Fill out the LOMA application: This requires knowing the date and type of construction, getting a plot map and other information, and having a surveyor prepare a map with elevations**. The FEMA number in San Francisco (region 9) is 415-923-7177.
4. Submit the application to FEMA. Hopefully, in about a month, you will get a letter saying that your structure is now out of the floodplain. Submit this to your lender and ask to have the flood insurance requirement waived. Copy your insurance company so they can refund your premium if it all works out. Even if you are not completely out of the flood zone but your floor is a foot above the ground around the house, a rate reduction may be possible with an Elevation Certificate.
* Note that your lender can still technically require flood insurance if it deems it appropriate.
** Several homeowners have used Rick Almack, Surveyor (818-703-7141), to assist in this process. He is completely familiar with the paperwork and the process. Another surveyor recommended by neighbors is: George Darvasan-Stanciu. 909.709.0649 or 909.793.6727 (w).
Other surveyors can be found through the phone book or the city.
Westwood Gardens Civic Association does not guarantee the accuracy of this information, but we’ve tried our best.