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Proposed Ordinance 2020-0045


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing will be held before the Metropolitan King County Council on the 7th day of July, 2020 at 1:00 p.m., to consider adoption of a Proposed Ordinance 2020-0045 relating to regulations for floodplain development.  The public hearing is planned to either be held at the King County Courthouse, 516 3rd Avenue, Room 1001, Seattle, Washington; or the hearing may be required to be held remotely to comply with the Washington State Governor's Declaration 20-28 (or as amended) regarding the Open Public Meetings Act. It is expected that the full Council will take action on this Proposed Ordinance at the July 7th, 2020 meeting following the public hearing. Information on the public hearing and how to submit public comment can be found at this website:


Summary of Legislation


Proposed Ordinance 2020-0045 would:

  • Adopt the new Flood Insurance Study and Flood Insurance Rate Maps for King County published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Update definitions to align with the Code of Federal Regulations, published FEMA guidance, and an audit by FEMA.
  • Update standards for areas of buildings that are below the lowest floor in flood hazard areas.
  • Allow accessory structures meeting certain criteria to have their lowest floor below the flood protection elevation.
  • Adopt new standards for agricultural structures.
  • Prohibit water wells in the FEMA floodway.
  • Adopt new standards for alteration of watercourses.
  • Prohibit breakaway walls and alteration of sand dunes in the coastal high hazard area.
  • Make technical or clarifying changes to align with existing intent or practice.
  • Add a new floodplain variance process that aligns with FEMA guidance, and remove the ability for critical area alteration exceptions from floodplain regulations.
  • Add new criteria for FEMA floodproofing certificates and FEMA elevation certificates.  

Striking Amendment S1 would:

  • Update standards for agricultural buildings to comply with FEMA guidance.

  • Make additional changes requested by FEMA after the ordinance was transmitted.

  • Establish the floodplain variance process as a Type 2 decision and agricultural building variance as a Type 1 decision.

  • Require lots less than one-half acre to meet floodplain variance criteria in order to receive a floodplain variance.

  • Clarify that zoning variances and critical area alteration exceptions may not be used to for variances/exceptions to the floodplain code.

  • Make changes for consistent use of terminology and clarification of definitions.

  • Make technical and clarifying changes to match executive intent and/or existing practice.


The Mobility and Environment Committee has not held a meeting to vote on a recommendation of this legislation due to the King County Executive and Washington State Governor's declarations of emergency and the Governor's and Public Health – Seattle & King County orders related to COVID-19.  The legislation's sponsor has made public a Striking Amendment S1, which can be found at the website link below.  The sponsor is expected to move Striking Amendment S1 for consideration by the full Council. 


Individual Councilmember Amendment Concepts:

In addition to the proposed amendments contained in the Proposed Ordinance and Striking Amendment S1, Councilmembers may offer additional amendments for consideration by the Council.  Amendments that may be considered for adoption by the Council on June 7th, 2020 or thereafter include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Require farm pads to locate as far as practical from property lines, as long as all other requirements are met.

  • Any amendment to effectuate additional changes identified by FEMA or the Department of Ecology.

  • Any amendment contained in the Executive’s proposed versions of the legislation.

  • Any amendment offered, or relating to topics discussed, during the review of the legislation in Council or Committee.

  • Any matter preserved for consideration by the Council by a member during previous Council or Committee meetings.


For More Information:

The complete text of the subject legislation as transmitted by the Executive and the text of Striking Amendment S1 are at the following website:


DATED at Seattle, Washington, this 5th day of June, 2020.




Melani Pedroza

Clerk of the Council

Contact the Council
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