February 12, 2015: FEMA Requirement Raises Lots at Loch Lomond Marina

New FEMA specifications will require the elevation of several lots in the Village at Loch Lomond Marina (now being called The Strand at Loch Lomond Marina), some by as much as 16 inches….

On Monday, January 26, 2015 two members of the Pt. San Pedro Road Coalition Board met with Kevin McGowan, San Rafael Assistant Public Works Director, and Paul Jensen, San Rafael Community Development Director. Also in attendance was Christopher Bartunek from CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering Group who has been hired by the Public Works Department to do daily oversight on the infrastucture phase. Kevin asked to meet with us to provide our community with an update on the current infrastructure work being done at the Village at Loch Lomond Marina. We had a follow-up meeting with both Kevin and Paul on Thursday, February 12, 2015.

Specifically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is modifying Flood Insurance Rate Maps based on a San Francisco Bay Study in response to flooding issues along the bay. Federal regulations related to flood insurance can be confusing but in general any new construction must be constructed above the flood level called the base flood evaluation levels (BFE). The new maps will require new construction to be 11 feet above the North American Vertical Datum specifications (NAVD replaces the previously-used National Geodetic Vertical Datum specifications), which is approximately 8.3 feet above mean sea level. These new FEMA regulations become effective September 2015 and will increase the base flood elevation (BFE) in the Bay area by approximately two (2) feet over previous FEMA requirements.

The “bottom line” is that while 34 of the 76 residential lots in the Village at Loch Lomond Marina adhere to the new specifications, 42 of them are lower than required, some by as little as 2 inches and some by as much as 16 inches. The new FEMA specifications will be mandated by the federal government after September 2015, and City code requires adherence to federal specifications. The City has discussed this with the project developer who has agreed to conform to the new specifications. Kevin McGowan states that San Rafael is being proactive in bringing this forward at this time since the project is currently under development “in order to protecting the health and welfare of the citizens of San Rafael.”

The San Rafael Development Department states that building design permits are not subject to any required changes due to changes in pad elevation. The reason is that building construction permits issued by the City specify the elevation above the pad, not above sea level. Therefore, for those buildings that need to have pad elevations raised as a result of these FEMA specifications, the total height of the building will be raise an equivalent amount.

For details as to which lots will be raised and by how much, see the accompanying map. Each lot is numbered (1 through 76). Three elevations are depicted (all in feet) showing the elevation of each lot above BFE:

  • Pad x.x (in black) is the current design elevation of the pads
  • +x.x (in blue) shows the increased elevation over the current Pad x.x elevation as a result of the new FEMA specifications
  • x.x (in red) are the original tentative elevations approved by the City Council in 2007

The raised buildings will further obstruct views from the Boardwalk toward the San Rafael ridgeline. These views were originally addressed in the permit process and building heights were adjusted slightly lower at that time to reduce that obstruction. The Marina Committee suggested that the boardwalk be raised to compensate. The developer has stated that the boardwalk will be raised 4 inches to partially compensate for the increased elevation of the lots. Any further rise in the boardwalk would negatively affect the adjacent marina green.