* Featured Story *Scott Fraser, Key West FEMA Coordinator Talks About Key West’s Height Referendum
Three feet is just a little more than the height of a fire hydrant, but in the world of flood insurance, three feet can make the difference between a $ 6,000 and a $ 800 homeowner’s premium.
According to Scott Fraser, Key West’s FEMA Coordinator, in some cases, raising a home up to an additional four feet above FEMA requirements could result in even greater savings on a homeowner’s annual insurance premium; as much as 94%.
The City Commission is asking voters to consider passing a referendum which would allow homeowners to break through the building height barriers found in the municipal code for the dual purpose of protecting homes from flood damage and drastically reducing insurance costs.
Some residents have expressed concerns about a secret “developers’ agenda” or unintended consequences that might result if the referendum is passed. In Key West restrictions on building height were put in place as a result of strong demand by residents and they were aggressively safeguarded when a charter amendment was enacted that would require voters to approve any changes – so it’s no wonder that people are paying strict attention to this paticular referendum question.
In the video above The Blue Paper asks Scott Fraser to help residents understand how things would work if the referendum on height were to pass.
Here is the text of the referendum:
To protect property against flooding and reduce flood insurance costs for taxpayers citywide, should the City permit an exception to building height regulations when buildings are voluntarily raised off the ground, up to four feet above FEMA established flood levels, yet no more than 40 feet in height?
The video below explains the potential insurance cost savings when homes are elevated above FEMA flood levels:
EditorialGUEST EDITORIAL: KEY WEST’S HEIGHT REFERENDUM; A FEW THINGS TO PONDER
This month, I attended the Gulf Coast Caucus meeting of the National Association of Counties where we discussed how to grapple with the consequences of revisions to the National Flood Insurance Program. I also attended a regional climate change meeting and learned more about the impacts we are likely to see from rising sea levels. My long-time involvement with the County and FIRM on these issues leads me to support the City’s referendum on making a limited exception to the height limit to allow homeowners to protect themselves from flood damage and exorbitant flood insurance costs. It’s an important and prudent approach to flood plain management.
I’ve been disappointed to hear and read speculative and uninformed remarks in opposition to the referendum and would like to address some specific issues.
- There has been no substantiation of the cost of elevating a structure other than some speculation at an August City Commission meeting. In fact, I personally know of one property owner who has received a quote of approximately $ 50,000 to elevate a large home in the Meadows, and have heard of another who paid around $ 30,000 to elevate a small home in Bahama Village. (City staff is investigating prices.) Further, it is likely that these costs will come down as technology improves and there is demand for the service. [...full article]