Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pombo Buries FEMA Flood Maps

Last week FEMA announced that the release of its new Delta flood insurance maps would be delayed from the originally-scheduled mid-October date:
The release of federal maps that could determine whether thousands of San Joaquin County homeowners must buy flood insurance likely will be delayed until after the November election.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is evaluating which levees are capable of withstanding anything short of a 100-year flood.

If the levee behind a home fails that test, the federal government could require that the homeowner buy flood insurance - at best costing several hundred dollars a year, at worst more than $1,000. Or homeowners might have to pay higher property taxes to raise cash to bolster weak levees.

The maps originally were due to be released early this month. In June, a team of lawmakers asked for a delay to give cities and counties more time to prove their levees are adequate.

On Friday, a FEMA spokesman said it's unclear when the maps will be published. In two weeks, officials may be ready to announce a date [...]

A spokesman for Rep. Richard Pombo said Friday that the maps might not be released until December.
Well, isn’t that convenient. I’m sure the delay has nothing to do with the letter that Richard Pombo sent to FEMA back in July demanding that they delay releasing the maps to provide time for “further study.” Pombo’s attempt to stall the publication of the maps smelled like a rat back in July, leading his own beloved Tracy Press to question his motives:
Many people living along California's 1,600-mile levee system are living in a flood plain, but government maps often don't designate the area as such.

But new federal flood insurance maps coming out in October could put many more businesses and homes in the designated flood plain, forcing cities to spend millions on repairing local levees and homeowners to spend roughly $1,200 a year on mandatory flood insurance.

A group of California lawmakers led by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, is hoping to stall the release of the new maps -- some think at least until the November election.
The Sacramento Bee was less gentle in its assessment. In an editorial entitled “Delaying Release of FEMA Maps Would Help Politicians, Not Communities at Risk”, they called Pombo’s action “highly suspicious.”
Much has changed since these [old] maps were drawn. In some watersheds, the spread of pavement has increased runoff downstream to other communities. Scientists have learned more about the frequency of West Coast storms. Engineers have discovered problems with levees, which provide protection for tens of thousands of homes in the Valley.

The problem is that new maps frighten local officials, such as those in Lathrop who are planning new homes in suspect areas. They alarm the mortgage industry and certain development interests, who have purchased and optioned cheap land in flood plains that could be affected by FEMA remapping.

Given the money at stake, it's highly suspicious that U.S. Reps. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and other lawmakers are urging FEMA to delay the release of preliminary maps.
I wrote about this back in July, when Pombo’s FEMA request was first made. Not much has changed since then. Richard Pombo and his family have deep ties with the real estate and development industry that has covered vast tracts of the Central Valley with housing. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Pombo has neither the personal nor political will to acknowledge the impending disaster that could result from the irresponsible development which his family and his cronies have undertaken.

Richard Pombo has been in office for seven terms, 14 years, and during that time has built up a tremendous base of power for himself in Congress. During those 14 years, he has consistently used that power on behalf of his friends, his family, and the special interests who contribute to his campaigns and his PAC. During that same time, he has consistently walked away from the needs of the residents of CA-11. Now he is complicit in compromising the safety of his own constituents, leaving them vulnerable to the risks of flooding from catastrophic levee failure.

Perhaps this is the sort of thing the editors of the Modesto Bee had in mind when they said: “We can no longer embrace a politician who appears to put special interests ahead of the interests of his district.”


Blogger Delta said...

If there is any one fact that illustrates the disdain that Pombo has for his constituents it is this. Those maps will end up costing a lot of people more money for flood insurance. He wants that bried until after the election so he does not have to answer for it. This is not unusual since one source of his local support are the mega developers, Alex Spanos (his company executives and his extended family all support Pombo) as well as Fritz Grupe, developer and head of a real estate company. Both the Grupe and Spanos organizations have a lot at stake in the development of land in the San Juaquin River flood plain and would just as soon that the tax payers pick up the bill for their putting you in danger.

6:48 AM, October 16, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

Pombo does not want the defenders to know the specifics of those maps. Now Fritz has been appointed by Arnold. This is another cover up. On another unrelated story Pombo gains another benefit on his property in Carnegie. Federal money is coming to help develop another town on his land. They keep electing this slim ball. This time he must go.

Vote Mc Nerney.

Tom Benigno

8:01 AM, October 16, 2006  

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