Local Land Use Planning
The Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria was developed in response to requirements from the Central Valley Flood Protection Act of 2008 to strengthen the link between flood management and land use.
This Act does not specify any enforcement authority for the urban level of flood protection, but instead relies on the due diligence of cities and counties to incorporate flood risk considerations into floodplain management and planning. However, the law tasked the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) with developing criteria that cities and counties could use to make findings related to an urban level of flood protection. The law also provides that cities and counties may develop their own criteria as long as it is consistent with the criteria developed by DWR. In this context, DWR developed the criteria to satisfy legislative requirements without interfering with local land use authority, while providing reasonable details and flexibility, and promoting prudent floodplain management in concert with other State law provisions related to smart growth and climate change adaptation strategies.
The criteria were refined through a collaborative effort with input from a diverse work group of representatives from cities, counties, other State and federal agencies, and associated professional organizations. While the work group was not conducted in a consensus-driven process, input from the work group on the criteria and assistance in clarifying local land use planning and decision-making processes were critical additions. To the greatest extent possible, the team used existing criteria for similar practices to minimize additional burdens on cities and counties. Also addressed were extensive comments from the April 2012 draft Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria, as well as changes resulting from legislation that amended the original SB 5 (2007) legislation.
DWR may update the Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria in the future to reflect any changes in legislative requirements. DWR may also include the Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria in future requirements for determining eligibility for grants.
Urban Levee Design Criteria
The Urban Levee Design Criteria (ULDC) provides criteria and guidance for designing, evaluating, operating, and maintaining levees and floodwalls in urban and urbanizing areas.
The urban level of flood protection is defined as the level of protection that is necessary to withstand flooding that has a 1-in-200 chance of occurring in any given year using criteria consistent with, or developed by, the Department of Water Resources. While cities and counties located outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley are not required to make findings related to the urban level of flood protection, the ULDC can help inform engineering and local land use decisions for areas at risk of flooding anywhere in California. The ULDC was developed through a collaborative process with stakeholders from local government (including representatives from the Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles Region), state government, and the federal government.
Documents and Resources
- Fact Sheet for the Urban Levee Design Criteria (PDF, 318 KB)
- Guidance on General Plan Amendments for Addressing Flood Risk September 2014
- Hazard Mitigation Planning: Cal OES
- Implementing California Flood Legislation into Local Land Use Planning: A Handbook for Local Communities : Addendum, December 2014 (PDF)
- Implementing California Flood Legislation into Local Land Use Planning: A Handbook for Local Communities , October 2010 (PDF)
- Shapefile of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Hydrologic Regions is available for use in GIS applications
- Urban Levee Design Criteria , May 2012 (PDF, 4.5 MB)
- Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria , November 2013 (PDF, 2.7 MB)