Proposed Changes to Floodplain Overlay Zone Code


​On March 22, 2021, the Salem City Council will consider changes to a portion of the Floodplain Overlay Zone code in Salem Revised Code (SRC), Section 601.075(c)(3). The changes are proposed in order to improve Salem's rating within the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Community Rating System (CRS) program. FEMA's CRS program provides incentives for local communities to implement floodplain management enhancements by reducing flood insurance premiums.

Based on the CRS credit points awarded to a community, FEMA offers a discount on flood insurance premiums ranging from 5 percent to 45 percent. CRS classifications range from Class 9 to Class 1, with Class 1 being best. A Class 5 CRS rating results in a 25 percent reduction to all flood insurance premiums within Salem when compared to an undiscounted rate. FEMA requires certain minimum prerequisites to be met in order for Salem to improve to Class 4 rating. Salem is eligible for a Class 4 rating once it has met the mandatory prerequisites at the Class 4 level. A Class 4 level would reduce flood insurance premiums 30 percent when compared to an undiscounted rate.

Ordinance Bill No. 1-21 includes a minor amendment to SRC Chapter 601 that was identified by a FEMA auditor in conjunction with Salem's application for a Class 4 CRS rating. Amendments proposed in Ordinance Bill No. 1-21 are described below:

  • When new construction in special flood hazard areas cannot be elevated, federal requirements allow for buildings to be constructed at a lower elevation if they are floodproofed to a higher elevation. Floodproofing makes a building impermeable to inundation from flood waters.

  • Prior to October 2019, Salem Revised Code Chapter 601 required all new construction to be floodproofed to a minimum of one foot above the base flood elevation.

  • In October 2019, Council adopted a major modification of SRC Chapter 601 under Engrossed Ordinance Bill No. 17-19 because FEMA required Salem's floodplain ordinance to comply with the Oregon model floodplain ordinance. FEMA provided a very abbreviated schedule for adoption and allowed for very few modifications from the model ordinance.

  • Salem has filed an application with FEMA to improve its CRS rating to a Class 4. A FEMA auditor discovered that a changes made under Engrossed Ordinance Bill No. 17-19 inadvertently modified the floodproofing regulations so that they no longer comply with Class 4 minimum requirements. Ordinance Bill No. 1-21 restores the floodproofing requirements to require all new construction to be floodproofed to a minimum of one foot above the base flood elevation as required for Class 4 certification.

How do the changes being proposed affect me?

The proposed changes to SRC Chapter 601 only affect new construction and development projects in Special Flood Hazard Areas and have no impact on existing developed properties. The change corrects a unintentional omission from the previous code amendments presented at a public hearing before City Council in October 2019 for Ordinance Bill No. 17-19. 

A public hearing notice will be mailed on February 26, 2021. Property owners receiving notice should be aware that the SRC Chapter 601 Floodplain Overlay Zone ordinance only applies to floodplain areas within the jurisdiction of the City of Salem. Property owners are encouraged to contact floodplain management staff to confirm flood risk or view Salem's local floodplain maps to check a specific property address for flood hazards.

How does the Community Rating System affect my flood insurance?

Many communities in Oregon participate in the voluntary Community Rating System program. As a result of Salem's participation, Salem residents receive a 25 percent reduction on their flood insurance premiums within Salem when compared to an undiscounted rate. Flood insurance is required by FEMA as a condition of receiving federally backed loans for properties located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (otherwise known as floodplains). You can learn more about flood insurance in Salem and Salem's efforts to reduce flood insurance premiums through the Community Rating System on our website.


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Glenn DavisChief Development EngineerPublic Works Department
555 Liberty ST SE RM 325
Salem, OR 97301