Foster City leaders are urging voters to support Measure P in the June 5 Primary Election to unlock millions of dollars to build a levee that would protect them from the rise of Bay waters.
If voters don’t pass Measure P, nearly everyone will have to get flood insurance, something supporters say is not cheap.
Plans for a new levee comes after the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) remapping of its flood zones and warning to Foster City that the current levee is not sufficient for a 100-year storm.
"The problem is, we didn't wake up one day and say, 'let's raise our levees,'" Foster City Mayor Sam Hindi said. "This was mandated to us by FEMA."
Hindi is pitching Measure P to voters, as a critical upgrade to a decades-old levee system. Most people know the city’s current storm backstop is thin, but they want an equitable way to pay for the improvement.
"Well we’re not opposed to the levee," said Foster City resident Bob Cushman. "We’re opposed to the way that it’s being financed. The city has enormous reserves."
Cushman is with Foster City Residents for responsible development who claims the city has at least $43 million in reserves and isn’t using any of it to reduce the cost of a $90 million bond.
For the average homeowner in the lagoon-laden city, that's about $400 per year for every million dollars of assessed value.
"Some contribution from the residents, in that case, if the money is too much," said Sanjay Chanaya, Foster City resident. "Some from the city, some coming from the government. I think it has to be like that."
That is something Hindi argues stating emergency funds are important and the reason why taxpayers should foot the whole bill.
"As you know, we live in earthquake country. And that could happen, it will happen. And the question is when would it happen?" he said. "When that day comes would we need that cash money? Would that money come in handy to provide essential services to our community?"
Foster City’s City Council has approved $10 million to spend on any overruns for this project. They need two-thirds of voters to pass it, if not, flood insurance could cost about $3,000 a year.