TMHA Comments on Texas Water Development Board 2024 State Flood Plan

Tags: Advocacy

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) accepted public comments this week on its Draft 2024 State Flood Plan.  TMHA submitted our public comments, and we know several other real estate trade associations did as well.

As described by TWDB, “[t]he plan provides the first comprehensive statewide assessment of flood risk and brings together the findings of 15 regional flood plans, as well as legislative and floodplain management recommendations, to guide state, regional, and local flood control policy.”

The 267-page Draft Plan is the first ever state-wide plan.  The Plan was mandated by S.B. 8 adopted by the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019.

TMHA applauds the effort and intent behind the comprehensive draft, as well as the tremendous amount of work that has already been done.  However, our area of concern and where we focused our comments were related to the “Regional flood planning group legislative recommendations.”

Clarified by TWDB, these specific recommendations are not theirs but come from regional flood planning groups.  But TWDB, “deemed several regional flood planning group recommendations to be of sufficient importance and listed them in this state flood plan for consideration by the Texas Legislature.”

Specifically, the regional recommendations TMHA was concerned with and commented on where:

  • Allow new county authority to impose county drainage fees, and set the fee amount;
  • Statewide floodplain management standards for infrastructure and buildings for flood risk reduction; and
  • Statewide building codes regarding flood risk

TMHA’s comments on drainage fee authority focused on the impact to housing affordability, and abuse of this authority under the auspice of imposing a fee but with the actual intent to prevent or impose county land use control.  Specifically, trying to use this authority to practically prohibit particular types of housing, namely manufactured housing.  These concerns stem from experience with cities that impose these types of fees, as well as other states with similar authority. 

Recently, litigation in California involved an 1,800 sqft manufactured home being proposed on a large track of family-owned land, in which the family owned land also included the majority of the road to access the proposed home.  Yet the county still imposed a $23,000+ “traffic impact” fee, which the county admitted was based on a formula and not on any actual traffic impact or costs.

We focused on comments on cost impact and abuse, with recommendations that these concerns be addressed and guarded against with statewide legal restrictions and/or limits.

TMHA’s comments on building standards and statewide building codes focused on the importance of inclusion for all statewide residential building codes and programs.  Our concern is the exposure to exclude manufactured homes if only a limited version of the IRC is adopted as the permissible building code. 

While we are clearly very familiar and comfortable with state-wide building codes which apply to both manufactured and modular homes, any policy that possibly limits housing to only the IRC, has the unintended effect of eliminating HUD-coded homes as a possible housing option.  Therefore, any statewide policy or additional authority must account for and allow for manufactured and modular homes. 

This is similar to numerous efforts TMHA has made in the past with legislative efforts that granted limited and geographically specific county zoning authority with the repeated law that says,

“The commissioners court may not regulate for siting or zoning purposes new manufactured or industrialized housing that is constructed to preemptive state or federal building standards in any manner that is different from regulation of site-built housing.”

And the carve out we advocated for and is in Texas law related to county adopted building codes that say, “(b)  The term does not include a structure that is constructed in accordance with Chapter 1201, Occupations Code, or a modular home constructed in accordance with Chapter 1202, Occupations Code.”

This process now moves into the TWDB evaluating the public comments and coming to a final version of their Flood Plan later this summer.  Their final plan must be submitted to the legislature by September 1, 2024.  From there the normal legislative process will begin in January of 2025 with the next Legisative Session.

We know this topic and the nuance and policy derived from this Flood Plan effort will be a key area of our legislative action and focus in 2025.