The City of West Palm Beach has adopted regulations on development in flood zones. The purpose of these regulations is to control the alteration of the natural floodplains; prevent or regulate the construction of flood barriers which will unnaturally divert flood waters or which may increase flood hazards in other areas; restrict or prohibit uses which may result in damaging increases in erosion or in flood heights or velocities; and to control filling, grading, dredging, and other development which may increase flood damages.
West Palm Beach currently regulates development within the natural flood plains through the development review process whereby building and/or engineering permits are required prior to construction, filling, or otherwise altering the natural elevations of a site. Prior to commencing any site development or construction work, it is recommended that the Construction Services Department at (561) 805-6700 be contacted so that the appropriate permits may be secured as necessary.
Elevation certificates are required in flood zones as part of the permitting process for all newly constructed or substantially improved buildings in West Palm Beach. A substantial improvement is defined as any repair, reconstruction, or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the market value of the structure before the repair is started or if the structure is damaged and is being restored before the damage occurred. The certificate documents the base flood elevation of new buildings and is available to insurance agents or any inquirers facilitating accurate insurance ratings. If you have any questions regarding the elevation certificates of any building, land filling, or other development in West Palm Beach, call (561) 805-6705 for the Construction Services Department or visit their website at wpb.org/construction.
A substantial improvement is defined as any repair, reconstruction, or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the market value of the structure before the repair is started or if the structure is damaged and is being restored before the damage occurred.
In any case where a building or any part thereof is 50 percent damaged or decayed, as determined by the Building Official using the valuation criteria set forth in the Florida Building Code, or deteriorated from its original value or structure, it shall be demolished. In all cases where a building cannot be repaired, so that it will no longer exist in violation of the code, it shall be demolished.
The City is served by a system of primary and tributary canals and swale areas which are man-made facilities constructed originally to drain the Everglades , and currently used to accommodate the flow of water and for stormwater management purposes. They are maintained on a regular basis by Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District and the South Florida Water Management District. The city conducts an annual inspection of the drainage system to ensure proper maintenance. These drainage features are critical to the success of water management practices which are incorporated into the development review process. State law prohibits dumping or unauthorized obstructions or alterations of the drainage canals or swale areas. Residents should be alert to protecting these systems as their condition is essential to controlling flooding within the City.
The City’s own stormwater facilities are maintained by our Engineering / Public Works department, and are of vital importance since the water flowing through them drains not only our coastal City, but inland City areas as well. Residents can report problems to the City’s Public Works Department 24/7 at (561) 837-4011 or the Mayor’s Response Team (MRT) directly at wpb.org/mayor. State law prohibits the dumping of any materials into these facilities. Violations should be reported to the West Palm Beach Police Department at (561) 837-4000.