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(a) Applicability. Alternate design standards may be approved for new construction or, substantial improvements necessary for the conduct of a functionally dependent use provided that the provisions of this chapter are satisfied and that the structure or other development is protected by methods that minimize flood damage during the base flood, does not result in additional threats to public safety and does not create a public nuisance. The alternate design standard criteria set forth in this section pertain to a piece of property and are not personal in nature. An alternate design standard may be granted for a parcel of property with physical characteristics so unusual that complying with the requirements of this chapter would create an exceptional hardship to the applicant or the surrounding property owners. The characteristics must be unique to the property. The unique characteristic must pertain to the land itself, not to the structure, its inhabitants, or the property owners.

Initial determination regarding issuance of a permit based upon alternate design standards shall be by the Floodplain Administrator.

(b) Requirements for Alternate Design Standards.

(1) Alternate design standards may be issued for new construction, and substantial improvements to be erected on a lot of one-half acre or less in size contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, providing that the procedures of Sections 23.33.040 and 23.33.050 of this chapter have been fully considered. As the lot size increases beyond one-half acre, the technical justification required for issuing the alternate design standard increases.

(2) Alternate design standards may be approved for the repair or rehabilitation of historic structures upon a determination that the proposed repair or rehabilitation will not preclude the structure's continued designation as an historic structure and the alternate design standard is the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the structure.

(c) Limitations on Use of Alternate Design Standards.

(1) Alternate design standards shall not be approved within any mapped regulatory floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.

(2) Alternate design standards shall only be approved upon a determination that the alternate design standard is the "minimum necessary" considering the flood hazard, to afford relief. "Minimum necessary" means to afford relief with a minimum of deviation from the requirements of this chapter. For example, in the case of alternate design standards to an elevation requirement, this means the City need not grant permission for the applicant to build at grade, or even to whatever elevation the applicant proposes, but only to that elevation which the City believes will both provide relief and preserve the integrity this chapter.

(d) Required Findings for Use of Alternate Design Standards. Alternate design standard shall only be approved upon the Building Official's determination that:

(1) There is showing of good and sufficient cause;

(2) Failure to grant the alternate design standard would result in exceptional "hardship" (as defined in Section 23.33.020 of this chapter) to the applicant; and

(3) The approval of an alternate design standard will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, or extraordinary public expense, public safety nuisance, fraud or victimization of the public, or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.

(e) Conditions of Approval. Upon consideration of the factors of subsection (a) and the purposes of this chapter, the Building Official may attach such conditions to the granting of alternate design standard as he or she deems necessary to further the purposes of this chapter.

(f) Relevant Facts for Alternate Design Standards. In passing upon requests for alternate design standards, the Floodplain Administrator shall consider all technical evaluations, all relevant factors, standards specified in other sections of this chapter, and the:

(1) Danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others;

(2) Danger of life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;

(3) Susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the existing individual owner and future owners of the property;

(4) Importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community;

(5) Necessity to the facility of a waterfront location, where applicable;

(6) Availability of alternative locations for the proposed use which are not subject to flooding or erosion damage;

(7) Compatibility of the proposed use with existing and anticipated development;

(8) Relationship of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan and floodplain management program for that area;

(9) Safety of access to the property in time of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles;

(10) Expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise, and sediment transport of the flood waters expected at the site; and

(11) Costs of providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including maintenance and repair of public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical, and water system, and streets and bridges.

(g) Notice. Any applicant to whom an alternate design standard is granted shall be given written notice over the signature of the Floodplain Administrator or designee that:

(1) The approval of an alternate design standard to construct a structure below the base flood level will result in increased premium rates for flood insurance up to amounts as high as $25.00 for $100.00 of insurance coverage; and

(2) Such construction below the base flood level increases risks to life and property.

A copy of the notice shall be recorded by the Floodplain Administrator in the office of the San Mateo County Recorder so that it appears in the chain of title of the affected parcel of land.

(h) Records. The Floodplain Administrator will maintain a record of all alternate design standards actions, including justification for their issuance, and report such alternate design standards issued in its biennial report submitted to the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency.