Floodplain Regulations Update

The City of Bellevue has been implementing floodplain regulations since 1978. The intent of these regulations is to protect human life and safety, minimize environmental and property damage, and reduce expenditures for disaster assistance and flood control.

What is Happening Now?

On July 27, 2020, the City Council adopted Ordinance 6521 amending the Land Use Code to adopt Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) updated Federal Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS), and to conform the city’s Land Use Code (LUC) to the current federal and state standards. 

Public Hearing

On July 13, 2020, the City Council held a virtual public hearing to amend the Bellevue Land Use Code to conform the frequently flooded areas regulations to current federal and state standards and adopt the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s updated countywide Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Flood Insurance Study.

Council Agendas

Project Documents

Frequently Asked Questions

The City of Bellevue amended the Bellevue Land Use Code to conform the frequently flooded areas regulations to current federal and state standards and to adopt the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s updated countywide Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Flood Insurance Study, for the city’s continued eligibility in the National Flood Insurance Program. The following is additional information regarding Ordinance 6521.

The code changes were driven by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which published updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and updated Flood Insurance Studies (FISs). Bellevue was required to update its city codes to the current federal and state National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards and adopt the updated maps and studies by the effective date of August 19, 2020. 
Necessary Amendments to the Definitions

Twelve new definitions are added to the Land Use Code, and six definitions are amended to improve clarity. These changes are for consistency with federal standards and are required by FEMA.

New terms added to the LUC:

  • Alteration of watercourse
  • Area of special flood hazard
  • Base flood
  • Flood elevation study
  • Floodplain or flood-prone area
  • Floodplain administrator
  • Highest adjacent grade
  • Historic structure
  • Mean sea level
  • New construction
  • Start of construction
  • Variance

Amended terms in the LUC:

  • Base flood elevation (BFE)
  • Flood or flooding
  • Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)
  • Floodproofing
  • Floodway
  • Substantial improvement
Necessary Amendments to the Performance Standards

The amendments to the performance standards aim to improve flood prevention measures for new or substantially improved structures within frequently flooded areas. An example is a new standard to require automatic entry and exit of floodwaters for a garage attached to a residential structure, built below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), for residential and mixed-use projects.

Necessary Amendments to the Floodplain Variance Process

The amendments require a variance process if a proposed development in a frequently flooded area does not comply with all required performance standards and include additional decision criteria consistent with FEMA’s requirements.

Necessary amendments to procedural requirements

The proposed amendments provide that the Director of Development Services must review certain application submittals and materials when evaluating and approving proposals for development within a frequently flooded area.

Property owners choosing to construct within frequently flooded areas must apply for a Critical Areas Land Use Permit approval with the Development Services Department. The changes continue to ensure that development in these areas is designed to minimize or eliminate flood damage and prevent one property owner from increasing flood damage to their neighbors. The changes follow standard floodplain management practices and are consistent with federal and state requirements.