Hazard Zones


This area includes properties within Zones A and V of the flood insurance rate maps issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Zone A is the 100-year flood plain and Zone V is a 100-year coastal flood area. FEMA flood maps are readily available and most sales agents are familiar with the maps. The best source for confirmation of whether the property is located in a flood zone is the local planning department. Copies of FEMA’s flood insurance rate maps can be obtained directly from FEMA for a small charge through its Map Service Center (1-800-358-9616,https://msc.fema.gov). A community panel number is necessary to obtain the correct map for a particular piece of property. This number should be available through the local planning or public works department. Additional information is available on FEMA’s website at www.fema.gov.


This area includes properties designated by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) as subject to potential flooding in the event of partial or total failure of any dam that would result in death or personal injury. Cal OES has the responsibility to distribute inundation maps for these areas, and the maps are to be kept on file with Cal OES and the State Department of Water Resources. A notice is to be posted at the county recorder’s office, county assessor’s office, and county planning agency office that identifies the location of the map and any subsequent information received by the county regarding changes to the inundation areas. Every county in California (except Del Norte) contains one or more dams with a designated inundation area, and Cal OES has delivered maps to each of these counties. According to Cal OES, the best current source for finding the location of these maps is the county’s local office of emergency services. This office will either have the map or know where the map is located. Map information is available on the internet. Cal OES’ web site is www.caloes.ca.gov.


In response to the Oakland hills fire, the legislature passed California Government Code §§51175 through 51188 to identify areas that are subject to a very high fire risk, to establish certain fire prevention maintenance standards, and to require disclosure to prospective purchasers of property in these areas. The Director of Forestry and Fire Protection is required to identify very high fire hazard severity zones and to transmit the information to all local agencies. If a county receives an official map identifying high fire zones within the county, it is required to post a notice in the county recorder’s, assessor’s, and planning agency’s offices that identifies the location of the map.


Wildland fire areas (or state responsibility areas) include properties where the state (rather than any local or federal agency) has the primary financial responsibility to prevent and suppress fires. The seller must disclose to any prospective purchaser that: (1) the property is located in the area, (2) the area may contain substantial fire risks and hazards, and (3) the property is subject to the fire prevention measures contained in California Public Resources Code §4291, such as the maintenance of firebreaks around all structures. In addition, if the county has not assumed fire suppression responsibility in all areas of the county (including state responsibility areas), the seller must disclose that the state has no responsibility to provide fire protection to any building or structure located within the wildlands absent a cooperative agreement with the local agency under California Public Resources Code §4142. The State Board of Forestry is required to classify wildland fire areas and to provide maps identifying the areas to the county assessor of each county that contains such areas. Notices are to be posted in the county recorder’s, assessor’s, and planning agency’s offices identifying the location of the map.


This area covers property located within a delineated earthquake fault zone as shown on an official earthquake fault zone map. The State Geologist is required to compile maps that delineate earthquake fault zones that encompass all potentially and recently active traces of the San Andreas, Calaveras, Hayward and San Jacinto faults. The State Geologist also is required to include such other faults that are sufficiently active and well-defined as to constitute a potential hazard to structures from surface faulting or fault creep. The zones are to be one-quarter mile or less in width but the State Geologist may designate a wider zone. The State Geologist is to provide copies of the official maps to each city and county with jurisdiction over the property located within the zone. Counties receiving maps must post notices in the county recorder’s, assessor’s, and planning agency’s offices identifying the location of the maps.


Seismic hazard zones are areas delineated by the State Geologist that may be subject to strong ground shaking, liquefaction, landslides or other ground failures, and other seismic hazards caused by earthquakes. On completion of each official map identifying such areas, the State Geologist must provide copies to each city and county having jurisdiction over lands within the zone. Upon receipt of a map, the county must post a notice in the county recorder’s, assessor’s, and planning agency’s offices identifying the location of the map.