Property owners and managers in San Marcos will be required to notify tenants if their property is located in a “special flood hazard area,” pending City Council’s approval April 19 on the second reading of an ordinance. City Council approved the first reading of the ordinance April 5.
“Special flood hazard areas” include flood ways, flood zones and other areas with a high flood risk, as defined by Federal Emergency Management Administration maps.
The item was brought forward after many residents’ apartments flooded during the Memorial Day weekend flood in May and the All Saints Day flood in October said they were unaware they were living in areas with a high flood risk.
“I met with citizens [after the All Saints Day flood]and they had just moved into an apartment complex off River Road,” Council Member Lisa Prewitt said. “They lost their home, they lost their car, they lost everything. They had no idea [they were in an area with a high flood risk].”
The city inspects each multifamily dwelling in San Marcos. During those inspections the city will check to ensure management is properly notifying renters as per the new requirement approved April 5.
Renters will be notified of the property’s flood risk through a specific form they will be required to sign. Proof that property managers and owners provided the notification to renters will be required upon request by city staff.
Some council members were concerned about how the city would verify the notification process was being followed. City Fire Marshal Ken Bell said the city’s multifamily dwelling inspections are called “annual inspections” but in reality, it takes city staff about three years to examine every property in the city.
“We have a “three-year miss,” and we have tenants coming in every year and turning over,” Council Member Scott Gregson said.
The federal government requires notices be sent to every person living in a special flood hazard area each year, Bell said. That requirement satisfied council members, but Gregson said as the program rolls out and the city determines how it will use $25 million of flood mitigation funds from the federal government—which could be used to route the Blanco River away from some flood-prone areas—council may revisit the topic.
“There is a collective will among the council to do what’s right by these folks living in these areas,” Gregson said.
The city also approved an ordinance April 5 that requires property owners or managers to disinfect properties damaged by a disaster before tenants reoccupy the dwelling.