Amid growing concern that Belvedere Lagoon homeowners are using loopholes in city ordinances to skirt federal flood regulations — a violation that could threaten flood insurance for the entire city — officials are looking for new ways to tighten the rules and ensure compliance. A newly formed subcommittee will weigh options like contracting with appraisers to crosscheck questionable assessments and widening the window between phases of large projects. Homeowners in the flood zone are required to raise the base height of their home a foot above federal flood levels if the project qualifies as a “substantial improvement,” where construction costs are 50 percent or more of the value of the home. Officials have expressed concern that potentially inflated appraisals or undervalued costs could be helping homeowners avoid the 50-percent trigger.
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