Is your Property in SFHA?

Are you prepared for a flood in your neighborhood?

Is your property in or near a special flood hazard area?


 History of Flooding in the City of Oceanside  Southern California does not have a high annual rain fall and often experiences long drought seasons. This fact may make us believe that we are safe and not subject to flooding hazards. This is not true. City of Oceanside due to its location is exposed and vulnerable to flooding. It is critical to remember that the City of Oceanside, being located in the Pacific Coastal region, is subject to wave action, tidal and storm surge flooding from the Pacific Ocean, and riverine flooding from San Luis Rey River, Loma Alta, Garrison, Buena Vista, and Pilgrim Creeks.  There are over 5000 properties and 3700 Buildings in the City of Oceanside that are located in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). San Diego County has experienced several flooding events in recent years, many of which resulted in widespread or localized flood damages.  A recent significant heavy storm event was on December of 2010.  Being prepared is your best defense against such events.


If your lender is requiring you to purchase Flood insurance, read the Engineering Webpage tab about Flood Insurance Requirement and/or Click here.

What should you do before a flood?

  • Determine if your property is located in an area subject to flooding (SFHA).                   

    It is important to know if your property is located in or near any Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).  Flood Insurance rate Maps (FIRMs) depict the boundaries and location of Flood Hazard Area. You can find out which flood zone (insurance risk) applies to your property by:

  1. contacting Development Services Department, Engineering Division  where copies of most current FIRMs are maintained and knowledgeable staff is ready to answer all your questions ; or
  2. Ordering or viewing the FIRM at the FEMA Map Service Center; or 
  3. Visiting the City webpage. Click on the map number to view the map you need.

       Low lying areas in the City along the Pacific Ocean, San Luis Rey River, Loma Alta Creek, Buena Vista Lagoon

      and contributing smaller creeks are particularly exposed to potential flooding.  Such areas are usually identified

      on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),  


     City of Oceanside maintains paper copy of current and historical FIRMs in the City Engineering Division or they

     can be  viewed on the following web sites at: and the City web site


     FEMA FIRMs show areas of Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) which are areas subject to inundation by the

     1% annual chance (100 year) of flood or exceeded in any given year.


    FIRMs do not always show all the properties subject to flooding. Any low lying area may be subject to localized flooding due to smaller more frequent or heavier rain events, and other drainage problems. Even if there has been no history of flooding in your area, your property may still be subject to flooding, sometimes due to being the lowest area in your neighborhood. Property owners should be alert and watch for flooded areas in their neighborhood during significant rain events.   

City Engineering Division provides information and technical assistance regarding flood plain issues such as:

  • Determining if properties are located within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)

  • Providing base flood elevation, flood depth, site and building elevation and data on historical flooding throughout the City when available.

  • Reviewing and providing comments on proposed plans and improvements within flood plain areas.

  • Providing information on existing floodways and protecting natural functions of the floodplain.

  • Providing site visit when requested to review flooded area, drainage problem, and retro-fitting issues.

  • Respond to citizen’s complaint on drainage problems.

  • Provide copy of FEMA elevation certificate when available.

  • Provide to the banks, real estate agents, insurance agents, property owners and potential real estate buyers, interpretation and identification of the information shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map.


  • California Drainage Law

An upper landowner is entitled to discharge surface water from his/her land as the water naturally flows. If however, he/she modifies the natural flow he/she is liable for any damage done to a lower landowner unless the lower landowner had acted “unreasonably” in altering the natural drainage over his/her land. The determination of whether either landowner’s conduct is reasonable or unreasonable is a question of fact to be determined in each case. It is important for a lower landowner to take affirmative action to protect his/her property.

  • Purchase flood insurance on your property. 

Standard homeowner’s insurance policy Does Not usually cover losses from flooding. A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover damages incurred by flooding to the building and its content.  The City of Oceanside participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that makes available federally backed flood insurance for all structures, whether or not they are located within the floodplain. Tenants may also buy flood insurance against flood loss. The average insurance premium for a 250,000$ building in zone A99 is over 1000.00$. Note that there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect. More than 25 percent of NFIP claims are filed by properties located outside the (SFHA).  Flood insurance is mandatory in certain instances such as purchase of a home with a federally backed mortgage. Contact your insurance agency for more information.  Flood insurance information is also available in

  • Maintain drainage channels and pipes free of obstruction and debris.  The City of Oceanside performs annual cleaning and maintenance activities on the drainage channels and pipes in City easements & rights-of-ways. Residents are encouraged to assist in maintaining the drainage in their areas by removing or reporting obstructions (such as shopping carts, leaves, debris, trash, etc.). It is illegal to dump trash, leaves, landscape debris, paint, grease, or any other material into any portion of the City’s drainage system.  Such dumping can have devastating impacts on water quality in addition to causing flooding and it is violation of City Ordinance No. 40.1.2.  To report obstructions or illegal dumping, please contact Storm Water Maintenance at (760) 435-5800 or check City website at   


  • Protect your property from the hazards of flooding by: 

  •  Elevating the building above “Base Flood Elevation” (elevation of the 100-year flood, based on the FIRM), if possible.

  • Keep water away from the building by: re-grading the lot, building flood walls or earthen berms, use water proof materials and place water tight closures over the openings.

  • Elevate or locate electrical panel, furnace, water heater, washer/dryer (all major equipment) above BFE.

  • Protect and restrict the flow of water to lower levels, basements and garages.

  • Maintain and clean gutters, leaky roofs, windows and drains.

  • Make sure downspouts drain away from the building.If a flood is imminent, protect the building by sandbagging areas subject to the entry of water and move valuables to higher levels.

  • Meet improvement requirements. (NFIP) requires that all new and substantially improved buildings in SFHA must meet the FEMA development requirements. If the cost of reconstruction, additions, or other improvements to an existing building in the SFHA equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s market value, then the existing building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building.  Substantially damaged buildings must also be brought up to the same standards.  For example, a residence damaged from fire or flood so that the cost of repairs equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s value before it was damaged must be elevated above the base flood elevation.


  • Protect natural benefits of floodplain  

    Floodplains are a natural component of the San Diego County environment. Recognize and protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains to help reduce flood damage and protect resources. The City of Oceanside has many beautiful areas within the floodplain . The coastal areas, beaches, undisturbed river bottoms and creeks provide a wide range of benefits to the people and natural systems.

    These areas also provide breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife, create and enhance waterfowl habitat, and protect habitats for rare and endangered species. The floodplains are an important asset. They provide open space, aesthetic pleasure and areas for active and passive uses. They also provide flood storage and conveyance, reduce flood velocities, and flood peaks.

    Although the City has a storm sewer and drainage maintenance program, it is impossible to keep all drainage systems clear at all times. Clogged drainage or blocked ditches can cause flow of water and flooding. As a citizen, you can assist by keeping the banks of ditches, streams, clear of brush and debris, and not allowing grass clippings, oil, or other contaminants in storm sewer inlets. Dumping of debris or any type of pollutant into ditches, streams, or the ocean is illegal and damages the environment.  

    Report any drainage or illegal dumping problems.


  • Meet permitting requirements.  

    All development, construction, building improvements, substantial improvements or substantial damage improvements within the City particularly in the SFHAs is subject to review and permitting process by the City Engineering Division. Buildings built in the floodplain should be built with higher regulatory standards. Always check and fulfill permitting requirements with the Development Services Department before you build on, alter, fill, or re-grade on any portion of your property and/or within any easement or right-of-way.

    Report any suspected permitting issues.   

Family emergency plan.

  • Educate your children about flooding and other hazards such as dangers of fire, earth quake and tsunami. Talk to them about safety and family emergency plan.

  • Teach your children how and when to call 911, police, fire, family members.

  • Prepare emergency kit of non-perishable food, water, blanket, clothes, batteries, flashlights, a manual can opener, and battery-operated radio and place it in waterproof back pack and store in a safe and easy to reach place.

  • Develop: emergency list of family members, doctors and insurance agent contact numbers, and medications for your family and pet.

  • Set up a plan for your pet. Pets are not permitted in the shelters.

  • Inventory, video and photograph the content in your home. It will be very use full if you have to claim a loss with insurance company.


What should you do during a flood?

  • In flood emergency events the City may utilize Reverse-911 system (Alert San Diego) to call residents. Register all your phone numbers

  • Tune-in to local commercial or public radio or television stations (KPBS – 89.5 FM, KOPA – 91.3  FM, KFMB – 760 AM), or NOAA Weather Radio (frequencies 162.550 or 162.450) for Warning Bulletins and any corresponding emergency instructions.  The San Diego County Emergency Preparedness Division will order or advise evacuations if conditions warrant this action.  If evacuations are called for, it is imperative that you follow instructions in the time frame noted. 

  • If your property is in imminent danger of flooding, please contact SDG&G at (800) 411-7343 or (1800) 611-7343 to request that your power and natural gas be shut off, or for guidance on how to do it yourself. 

  • Do not attempt to drive, walk or wade through deep pockets of water or running washes.

  • Avoid low-lying areas, diches and unstable banks or slopes. Leave the flooded area or seek shelter in the highest floors, attic, roof tops or area if possible.

  • 2-1-1 San Diego is a resource and information hub that connects people with community, health and disaster services through a free, 24/7 stigma-free confidential phone service and searchable online database. 2-1-1 serves the entire population of the County.


Tsunami evacuation routes:

Oceanside Downtown South: Take Vista Way or Cassidy to I-5 or to South Oceanside Elementary School (Evacuation Center) located on Cassidy Street east of Horn Street.

Oceanside Downtown: All areas north of Godfrey take Oceanside Boulevard Wisconsin, Coast Highway, Mission Avenue or Surf Rider streets to Oceanside High School (Evacuation Center) located at Mission Avenue and I-5.

Oceanside Harbor: Take Harbor Drive and/or Pacific Street to I-5 or Pacific Street to Coast HWY and Mission Avenue to reach the Oceanside High School.


Questions regarding emergency procedures, disaster preparedness may be addressed to the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services at dialing 211 or (858) 565-3490.  For maps of evacuation routes and more information on disaster preparedness please consult the following website:


What should you do after a flood?

  • Listen to the radio for emergency instructions.

  • Avoid driving if possible.

  • Follow established procedures for property damage repairs:

  • Select a contractor who is licensed in his trade.  The City of Oceanside requires contractors to be licensed and/or registered with San Diego County and to have a City of Oceanside Business License.  Licensed and/or Registered contractors will have a County or City decal displayed on their vehicle and will produce receipts for their licenses. Only licensed professionals can perform electrical, plumbing, gas system, heating, ventilation and air conditioning work. Verify that contractors are licensed and have liability and workman’s compensation insurance before signing or agreeing to any repair.


  • Require your contractors to obtain the proper permits for work being performed. Permits are required for any permanent improvement (including painting, roofing, siding, additions, alterations, etc.) to a structure and for site work such as grading, filling, etc.  Permits are required even if a homeowner is doing the work himself. 

    Questions about permits or contractor licensing may be addressed to the Development Services Department at (760) 435-3950.

For more information about flood safety or the NFIP go to For drainage problems, permit issue, reporting illegal dumping and grading contact

(760) 435-3950