A Flood of Red Tape: Comparing the Floodplain Development Regulations of Port Cities
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) relies on local communities to set and enforce regulations to preserve the floodplain and mitigate flood hazards. Without a clear framework or model ordinance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the drafting and enforcement of these protections are left to local city councils, leading to a confusing variety of local regulations selectively adopted from FEMA, the International Building Code, and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards. These inconsistencies create uncertainty that hampers positive development and discourages owners from performing critical maintenance on marine infrastructure. This paper compares local regulations that govern development in floodways and floodplains of several United States port cities and analyzes their impact on a several model projects. This research identifies key differences among the city regulations and reveals shortcomings where regulations were not developed with water dependent infrastructure in mind. ASCE can help push for these distinctions and establish a unified national code that acknowledges the differences between buildings and in-water structures to better serve waterfront property owners and the general public.