The Real Estate Board of New York to The Department of Buildings on the Draft Bulletin on Flood Related Requirements for Residential Ancillary Spaces

Alexander Shapanka

Assistant Vice President of Policy

September 19, 2021

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The draft bulletin will require that all applications for new buildings, horizontal enlargement, or substantial improvement made through DOB NOW Build certify that all ancillary spaces and building systems that support residential uses and dwelling units be elevated about the design flood elevation (DFE). REBNY understands that the draft bulletin comes as a result the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) clarification on the minimum standards set forth in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). As a participant in the NFIP, New York City must comply with the regulations in FEMA P-2037 and the subsequent technical bulletins.

While REBNY appreciates that the changes to building design are necessary, we would like clarity on the following points:

  • Vehicular parking is still permitted below the DFE if it is dry-floodproofed. Does this also apply to bicycle parking?

  • Storage is still permitted below the DFE if it is dry-floodproofed. Does this include both trash storage and tenant storage?

  • Loading docks that may serve residential uses where the loading bays are below DFE are often designed to be dry-floodproofed. Will these designs still be permissible?

  • Would vestibules qualify as space used for building access and thus not have to be above the DFE if they can be wet floodproofed?

  • Do ancillary spaces that do not directly serve residential uses or building systems that support residential use, such as staff lockers and breakrooms, need to be above the DFE?

  • Incoming services and associated spaces, including for power systems and telecommunication wires, that support building systems as well as residential uses and dwelling units are below grade and will occur below the DFE. How should filings show compliance with FEMA P-2037 for these spaces?

In addition, the bulletin does not explicitly address design concerns above grade in instances when parking is provided below grade, which necessarily will include a dry-floodproofed cellar. REBNY asks that as long as the critical residential components are at or above the DFE, that the design should be allowed to continue the dry-floodproofing to a level above the DFE in these instances.

Finally, REBNY would encourage the Department to clarify an intended effective date for the bulletin as well as how it applies to projects already in the design and permitting process.