The Ukiah Daily Journal

Local flood plain maps expanded

City of Ukiah hires second consultant

- By Justine Frederikse­n

Despite the first hired consultant declaring updated maps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that significan­tly increased the city of Ukiah's flood plain as “in-line,” Public Works Director Tim Eriksen announced this week he has hired a second consultant to take another look.

“FEMA has unfortunat­ely decided to look at our flood plain maps and review them and run new models for them, and the proposed new maps are greatly different than the old ones,” Public Works Director Tim Eriksen told the Ukiah City Council Wednesday, describing it as “shocking, frankly, how many people are going to be added to the flood plain.”

This presents a problem for property owners, Eriksen said, because “if you're in the flood plain, and you have a federal-backed loan, then you have to have flood insurance, and it's rather pricey. (And) this is money that's going to go to insurance companies, not to be used in other ways.”

In response, Eriksen said the city has “been making a big effort to sort of fight this,” explaining that it first hired the firm GHD to review the maps, “and, basically, GHD kinda came back with, `FEMA is in-line, the maps were in-line.'”

When Eriksen reported that result to City Manager Sage Sangiacomo, “he said to try again, so I'm hiring another person.” Eriksen identified the second consultant as Jeff Anderson of Northern Hydrology and Engineerin­g, a firm based in Humboldt County.

“(Anderson) was successful in helping Willits defeat this process,” said Eriksen, explaining that he asked Anderson to “make sure we're not missing anything, because folks are going to be very unhappy about this. He's working on that right now, and we do have until March 15 to file our appeal.”

Sangiacomo “strongly urged”

all residents to go to the city's website and review the maps for themselves, describing them as particular­ly affecting “the area between Gibson and Orr streets, including the Wagenselle­r Neighborho­od and the Brush Street Triangle.

“It's an extensive reach, in my opinion,” Sangiacomo continued. “Some of these areas are areas that we have never seen flood at any point. I'm really questionin­g some of the Brush Street Triangle and Masonite Industrial Park. To me, there would have to be a major failure of the (Lake Mendocino) dam to really consider these areas in the flood plain; it just doesn't make realistic sense.

“Personally, I understand that the numbers that might be going into the model might be accurate, but is the model really the right tool to be using?” he said, adding that he was “happy that Tim has found another resource to really do our due diligence and try to make sure that we're representi­ng and protecting the community to the best of our ability. (However), I am concerned that a lot of this is outside of our control, and the implicatio­ns are going to be farreachin­g for property owners within these areas.”

When asked how much the city had paid GHD, and would be paying Anderson, to review the FEMA maps, city staff members did not immediatel­y respond.

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