Chris Chatelain has discovered that City of Gulf Breeze ordinances still impose "what is called a five-year cumulative rule" for flood insurance. The city didn't even realize it, the News reporter says, until the paper made inquiries.
Chatelain writes in part --
Under this “rule,” total flood damages under each policy roll over to accumulate in increments of five years at a time. For example, a policyholder’s damages from this year will be totaled with any other flood claims on that policy within the last four years. Once a policy is “maxed out” (usually $250,000), then the home is placed into the 50 percent rule and must be brought up to the latest city and county flood codes before it can be repaired or rebuilt, according to Gulf Breeze Director of Community Services Shane Carmichael. Carmichael said he and the city did not realize that the city still had the rule on the books while the county and State had repealed the ordinance ... .Bringing a house into conformity with the latest building code involves demolition and complete rebuilding if the house is in a designated flood plain and not on stilts.
Under the city ordinance, for example, a house on a slab which is damaged to what was considered 45% of its pre-storm value would have to be totally replaced by one raised on stilts if a later storm's surge damage amounted to as little as 6% loss of value.
It is a rule choked with complications. Consider just three:
- What if the house had been sold between storms to a new, unsuspecting owner? Is the new owner stuck with what happened under the previous seller's ownership or could he reopen and contest the earlier percentage?
- If the previous owner didn't disclose details about what percentage was claimed in a Year One Storm, is he liable to the new owner when because of the ordinance the house is 'totalled' in Year Five after comparatively minor damage?
- If the structure's "value" appreciated between storms occurring, say, five years apart, does the ordinance apply the same "perentage" calculus to two different values from two different years, or use a constant "value" benchmark established after the first storm and apply that to the second storm damage to yield a damage percentage?
The Gulf Breeze News has done a public service by alerting city officials to what their own law says. The city should return the favor by repealing this anachronism and conforming the local ordinance to state law and that of other area communities.