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Kittitas (pronounced 'kit-i-tass') County is located in central Washington
State. It spans from the lush forested Cascade Mountains to the upper Yakima River Valley plains and
the Columbia River.
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Within unincorporated Kittitas County, Kittitas County Code Title 14.08 regulates the use and development
of property within flood hazard areas. These regulations are a result of the County’s participation
in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). With the County’s participation, residents are able
to purchase flood insurance which is a requirement of virtually every mortgage or home equity loan for
property located within the floodplain. In exchange for offering insurance, the NFIP requires participating
jurisdictions to regulate development within FEMA’s regulatory floodplains. All jurisdictions within
Kittitas County participate in the NFIP, and each jurisdiction has its own development regulations.
The basic NFIP regulations can be found in
Emergency management and Assistance, Sections 59 and 60.
Washington State’s floodplain regulations can be found in
RCW 86.16 Floodplain Management.
Kittitas County’s Flood Damage Prevention ordinance can be found in
Development is defined as: Any manmade change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not
limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or
drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials located within the areas of special flood hazard
Prior to beginning any development, landowners must apply for a
permit from Kittitas County Public Works or their local jurisdiction.
Structures are allowed within the floodplain as long as they are constructed to meet the requirements
of the NFIP. Within unincorporated Kittitas County, residential structures within the floodplain must
be elevated 1-foot above the base flood elevation (BFE). The BFE is identified on the FIRM and is the
level of the water during a 100-year flood. For example, if the elevation of your land is 1500 feet,
and the BFE is 1502 feet, there will be two feet of water on the ground during the 100-year flood. Because
structures must be constructed 1-foot above BFE, your structure’s lowest floor will need to be constructed
3-feet above the ground.
Non-residential structures within the floodplain must be either elevated 1-foot above the BFE or flood
proofed to 1-foot above the BFE.
Basements are not allowed within the floodplain and crawl space depth is limited. Because solid walls
can collapse from the pressure of rising flood waters, openings that allow the flood waters to flow
through are required if the crawl space is enclosed. Utilities, such as HVAC systems, electric systems
and hot water heaters must be installed above the BFE regardless of whether they are inside or outside
of your home. Propane and other fuel tanks must be elevated above the BFE and/or anchored to prevent
them from floating away. Structures must be properly anchored to their foundation to prevent shifting
during a flood.
Below Grade Crawlspace Construction Requirements
Many structures within the floodplain were constructed prior to these regulations and are not constructed
or elevated to today's standards. These structures are known as pre-FIRM. To prevent these structures
continued damage the NFIP has a substantial improvement rule. Substantial improvement is any reconstruction,
rehabilitation, addition, remodel or other improvement to a structure that has a total cost which equals
or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction. For example, if
you own a pre-FIRM home with a market value of $100,000 and you plan a remodel with a total cost of
$75,000, your remodel qualifies as a substantial improvement. You will be required to bring your home
up to current NFIP standards, which may include elevating your home above the BFE.
Substantial damage is any repair to a home that has a total cost which equals or exceeds 50% of the
market value of the structure before it was damaged. Damage can be from any reason, including floods,
fire, earthquakes or any other disaster. Homes that are substantially damaged are required to be brought
up to current standards.
The floodway is the channel of a river and the adjacent land areas that must be
reserved in order to discharge the base flood without increasing the water surface elevation. The floodway
can be a dangerous place during a flood, due to the potential for high velocity debris filled water.
For these reason, floodways within unincorporated Kittitas County receive special attention and have
the following requirements:
The placement of RVs in the floodplain of unincorporated Kittitas County is regulated by KCC
14.08.295. Additional RV regulations are found
in KCC 14.04.045.
RVs can become floating hazards during a flood. For this reason, during flood season (November 15th
to Memorial Day), unattended RVs are not allowed within the floodplain. A RV is considered to be unattended
when a notice is placed on the RV and observed there 72 hours later.
Throughout the year, RVs within the floodplain must be road ready at all times. The RV must be licensed,
on its wheel or jacking system, have no permanent attachments or obstructions, and be connected using
quick disconnect utilities.
Recreational Vehicles in the Floodplain
Kittitas County has a total area of 2,333 square miles. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 7,959 feet above sea level.