Deschutes River Flood Plain Photo

Updated 5/19/17                                                                                                                                                Photo Credit: 

FLOOD PLAIN ZONE - From Base Zone to Overlay Zone



Deschutes County is considering amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance that would change the Flood Plain zone from a base zone to an overlay zone.  This web page and public meetings are intended provide resources and opportunities for the public to understand the project and participate.  This site will be updated periodically as additional information and resources are developed and become available.  



Why is Deschutes County initiating these amendments?The changes are intended to clarify and simplify zoning for properties encumbered by the Flood Plain zone.  Also under consideration are various corrections of errors and incorporation of elements of the State model code that will improve accuracy and implementation.  This project has been on the Planning Division work plan for some time and now provides the opportunity for it to be completed.  

Is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) changing the Flood Plain Zone boundary?
No. The boundary will remain unchanged.

Will this affect the National Flood Insurance Program?
No.  As mentioned above, the mapped floodplain boundary is not changing. It will be depicted in the overlay zone.

What is a Base Zone?
A "base zone" is a county zone that specifies allowable uses for real property and land use requirements including minimum parcel size and development standards.  The most comment base zones in the County include Exclusive Farm Use (EFU), Forest Use (F-1/F-2), Rural Residential (RR-10), and Multiple Use Agriculture (MUA-10).

What is an Overlay Zone?
An "overlay zone," or sometimes referred to as a “combining zone,” is a special zoning district, placed over an existing base zone(s), which identifies unique conditions and regulatory standards in addition to those in the underlying base zone.  The most common overlay zones in the county include the Landscape Management (LM), Surface Mining Impact Area (SMIA), Airport Safety (AS), and Wildlife Area (WA).

What are the development standards of Flood Plain Zone?
The standards are outlined in Deschutes County Code Title 18, County Zoning, in Chapter 18.96, Flood Plain Zone.  The current Chapter 18.96 is attached below for reference.  It is important to note that these changes will NOT affect development standards of the Flood Plain zone with the exception of the changes mentioned below. 

What is the Benefit of Changing from a Base Zone to an Overlay Zone?
Most cities and counties in Oregon with mapped flood plains designate them in their respective zoning codes as an overlay zone. Changing from a base zone to an overlay zone eliminates split base zoning. Many properties along the Deschutes and Little Deschutes River are split zoned with Rural Residential and Floodplain zoning.  Utilizing one based zone, in this example, Rural Residential, makes administering the zoning code more efficient.  

The proposed amendments include consideration of an amendment to provide an exception to conditional use standards for development within the Flood Plain zone but outside of 100-year flood plain.  Also under consideration are relaxed standards for accessory structure less than 200 square feet located within the 100-year flood plain.    These amendments may benefit some property owners with cost and time savings associated with related development.

What/Where is the Flood Plain Zone Boundary?
The boundary of the Flood Plain Zone includes the “Special flood hazard Areas” updated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  It is identified by the Federal Insurance Administration in a scientific and engineering report entitled "Flood Insurance Study for Deschutes County, Oregon and Incorporated Areas" revised September 28, 2007.  When base flood elevation data has not been provided in the Flood Insurance Study, the Planning Director will obtain, review and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation or floodway data available from federal, state or other sources, in determining the location of a flood plain or floodway.  

How is the flood plain zone designated on my property today?
You can search a property on Deschutes County Property Information:

Does this change on-site waste water standards or availability?
No.  The requirements for wastewater treatment systems and site evaluations are not impacted.  Visit the Deschutes County Environmental Soils Division for more information:



 The County Planning Division held a series of open houses to discuss the proposal in advance of the formal review process.  The list of previous and scheduled public meetings is listed below.  The staff documents and presentation are available under Supporting Documents.

  • March 16, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.    Sisters High School, 1700 McKinney Butte Rd, Sisters
  • March 23, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.    Redmond City Hall, (ADDRESS CORRECTION) 411 SW 9th St, Redmond
  • April 6, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.         La Pine Senior Center, 16450 Victory Way, La Pine
  • April 13, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.       Deschutes Services Building, 1300 NW Wall St, Bend (Planning Commission Public Hearing)
  • May 11, 2017 at 5:30 p. m.       Deschutes Services Building, 1300 NW Wall St, Bend (Planning Commission Work Session)
  • May 25, 2017 at 5:30 p. m.       Deschutes Services Building, 1300 NW Wall St, Bend (Planning Commission Continued Public Hearing)



For more information contact:
Matthew Martin, Associate Planner