In this post, CivicMic addresses comments and questions received via the second online survey for the proposed construction of the Neptune Drive levee in San Leandro, California. The Neptune Drive Shoreline Flood Protection Project will be funded by special assessments added to the property tax bill of approximately 1,055 parcels that benefit from the construction of the Neptune Drive levee. These 1,055 parcels were recently designated by FEMA as being in the 100-year flood zone resulting in the requirement by mortgage companies for costly flood insurance. The construction of the levee, in addition to another levee being built by the County, would cause FEMA to designate the parcels as no longer being in the flood zone and consequently, mortgage companies would no longer require flood insurance. Preliminary estimates show that the annual assessment amount would be lower than the flood insurance premium over time.
If you are familiar with this topic, please scroll down for answers to comments and questions received through the second survey.
If you are new to this topic, please click on the links below to read our previous posts with valuable background information.
Interactive Map of Parcels Represented in the Process (Find and click on your property)
Neptune Drive Levee: Comments and Questions Received
Question: Were the parcels designated as being in the flood zone because the City did not maintain the area?
Answer: No. A routine update of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps by FEMA using updated elevation and scientific data resulted in the parcels being designated as in the flood zone.
Question: What is the total cost of the project?
Answer: The current estimated cost of the project is approximately $2.5 million, including assessment district formation costs.
Question: Isn't the levee for the protection of the entire community? Why is the assessment only applicable to the approximately 1,055 parcels?
Answer: The construction of this levee, along with the levee being constructed by the County, is in direct response to FEMA determining these selected parcels are now in the 100-year flood zone. Other parcels throughout the City were not affected.
Question: What happens if the levees are not constructed?
Answer: Both the Neptune Drive levee and the County levee must be constructed for FEMA to designate these selected parcels as no longer being in the 100-year flood zone. The parcels will continue to be subject to a requirement for flood insurance with increasing premiums if the construction of both levees is not completed. Flood insurance premiums for these parcels are currently receiving a temporary discount, but comparing eventual premiums to the assessment indicates the assessment is a cheaper option and it ends in 10 years (based on the current proposed amortization schedule).
Question: Will the proposed Marina Shoreline Development be subject to the assessment?
Answer: Yes, 40 acres of the proposed development designated as being in the 100-year flood zone will be subject to the assessment. The 40 acres are currently owned by the City and will be subject to the assessment if the development occurs or does not. Meaning, either the City or the development will need to pay the assessment like other owners in the assessment district.
Question: Why isn't this a regional issue that involves all bay area cities/counties, and agencies being impacted by rising sea levels?
Answer: Rising sea levels is an issue impacting many areas in the world, including the San Francisco Bay. Recently, scientists and planners spent two years writing a 250-page document, the San Francisco Shoreline Adaptation Atlas, as a guide for public agencies to work together towards a common goal. Click here to download the plan or click here for additional information from the San Francisco Estuary Institute & the Aquatic Science Center. It is estimated that costs to protect the San Francisco Bay will be in the tens of billions and will take years for construction to occur. Regional public agencies are working together to address this challenge but waiting for a regional solution means paying high flood insurance premiums for many years at many times the cost of what the assessment would have been.
Question: Where can I find the amounts for the proposed assessment district?
Answer: Click here to load our web map to zoom in (the closer the better), find your property, and left-click on the property to view the following key information:
- Site Address: Use to confirm you have selected the right property. Note, site address comes from the County and can be inaccurate. In that case, please zoom closer and visually confirm the desired property.
- Preliminary Assessment: This is the full original amount of the assessment before it is amortized and added to the property tax bill. Think of it as the loan amount. Like most loans, amortizing the assessment results in additional charges for interest and administration. Note: There will be an option to pay the full original assessment amount upfront to save on interest and administrative charges.
- Preliminary Annual Charge: This is the amortized amount proposed to be added to the property tax bill for 10 years and includes interest and administrative charges. As a general rule of thumb, estimates show that amortizing the assessment over 10 years results in total payments approximately 1 1/2 times the original amount.
- Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are having difficulty finding the information. We can help!
Question: Why was the proposed amortization changed from possibly 20 or 30 years to 10 years?
Answer: The City is proposing a shorter term with the only intent of saving property owners money. In practical terms, it makes no difference to the City if the amortization is over 10, 20, or 30 years. Municipal debt is routinely issued for 25 to 30 years and public agencies are accustomed to administering it under those terms. However, amortizing this assessment over 30 years results in total payments approximately 2 1/2 times the original amount. Amortizing it over 10 years results in total payments approximately 1 1/2 times the original amount.
For example, under a 10-year amortization, 900 of the 1,055 parcels would pay under $250 per year for 10 years (total of $2,500). The same 900 parcels would pay under $114 per year under the 30-year amortization (total of $3,420).
Question: What is the current timeline for the project?
Answer: The project team will meet again in May. As previously posted by CivicMic, the City is timing this project with the County's project to ensure the County levee is constructed and to minimize in interest costs that would be incurred by property owners if the assessment is established too soon. As a reminder, FEMA requires that both levees be constructed before the parcels are designated as no longer being in the flood zone. Consequently, there is no incentive for the City to go first. Click here to view the latest timeline.
Question: I was not able to attend the community meetings. Were the meetings recorded?
Question: Why doesn't the City use the General Fund or reserves to pay for the construction of the Neptune Drive levee?
Answer: City Council has this option and may choose to do so. Please note that the levee is being constructed to remove a specific and limited number of parcels from the 100-year flood zone designation with little benefit to other parcels in the City. Consequently, the use of a Benefit Assessment District is more appropriate. Please click here to read more about Benefit Assessment Districts.
However, we suggest affected property owners attend and speak at City Council meetings to have their voices heard in this matter. The City has retained CivicMic to promote and encourage participation in this process and remains committed to achieving the highest possible level of collaboration for the Neptune Drive Shoreline Flood Protection Project. High participation in this process is the ultimate goal.
We appreciate the many responses, comments, and questions received through our second survey and remind you that CivicMic staff is here to help. As always, feel free to email us directly at email@example.com or add a comment to any of our posts. We will keep the survey open for a few more weeks, so please share the survey, found at civicmic.com/sanleandro, with your neighbors. Affected property owners that take the survey, including those that have previously taken the survey, will be entered into a drawing for one of twenty $15 Amazon gift cards. We will pick the winners at random upon the closing of the survey.
5/22/2020 Update: The survey is now closed. CivicMic will notify winners via email.
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