To lower flood insurance rates, city wants to raise new houses

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West Palm Beach may require new homes to be elevated so that property owners’ flood insurance premiums are lowered.

The city commission is poised to take a final vote today to change its construction rules in a way that will qualify property owners for a bigger discount on federal flood insurance.

The move is meant to improve the city’s flood rating, thus making property owners eligible for bigger discounts under the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program, to counteract recent federal laws that otherwise would cause rates to rise by eliminating subsidies.

The proposed city ordinance would generally require that all new construction or substantial improvement of any existing structure “shall have the lowest floor elevated to one foot above the base flood elevation or, for non-residential structures, be flood proofed so that below one foot above the flood base level the structure is watertight,” the agenda for this afternoon’s commission agenda says.