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Benefit Assessment Program Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. What does the Alameda County Flood Control District do?
  2. What is the Clean Water Program?
  3. What is the Flood Control Benefit Assessment Program?
  4. How are benefits assessed?
  5. How are assessments levied?
  6. What is "Flood Benefit X" on my tax bill?
  7. Which zone do I live in?
  8. I live on a hill. Why should I pay?
  9. We don't have floods. Why should I pay?
  10. I'm a senior citizen and I can't afford these taxes.
  11. This is church property. Aren't churches exempt from property taxes?
  12. When will this assessment be paid off?
  13. Which zones have bonds?
  14. I get two property tax bills, but I only have one property (split parcel).
  15. My property isnít a business; it's only my house.
  16. My property isnít 200 acres; it's a small parcel.
  17. My property is 200 acres, mostly used for cattle grazing, and it has one small house on it (it's not an industrial or business use).
  18. I can't build on my property; it's really small (i.e., is landlocked, a road, a path, on the side of a hill, under water, etc.).
  19. My brother, two sisters, and I share an interest in the property, but my nephew is the listed owner. We need a statement allocating the costs.
  20. Is Flood Benefit X in a flood hazard area or part of a flood insurance program?
  21. The creek behind my house is full of weeds and debris.
  22. The drain in front of my house is plugged and the street is flooding.
  23. Flooding from the creek/clogged storm drain caused damage to my property. Who do I talk to?
  24. When are tax payments due?
  25. I have a question regarding my property value or land use.
  1. What does the Alameda County Flood Control District do?

    The State Legislature created the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (District) in 1949 following the recognition of the need for the construction of flood control, drainage, water supply, and water conservation facilities in Alameda County.

    The District was formed to:

    • Convey and conserve flood and storm waters
    • Protect watercourses and watersheds
    • Protect public highways
    • Protect property and life
    • Prevent waste or deterioration of water supplies
    • Development and importation of water for use within the District

    The Alameda County Board of Supervisors (the Board) is the governing body for all District zones except Zone 7, which is located in eastern Alameda County and has a separately elected Board of Directors. The Public Works Agency provides engineering, technical, and administrative staff for the District. Public Works staff:

    • Keep the existing flood protection system in a safe and effective condition
    • Respond to emergencies
    • Perform maintenance and repairs
    • Design and construct authorized flood control projects
    • Control pollutants from runoff (saving the Bay)
    • Collect development and permit fees to fund staff review of
      • Development drainage plans
      • Permits for erosion and sedimentation control
      • Permits for grading and surface mining

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  2. What is the Clean Water Program?

    In 1986, the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) adopted a plan for the San Francisco Bay Basin. It required actions to preserve and enhance water quality in the Bay and its tributaries. This action was taken to meet the requirements of the State of California Clean Water Act and Federal regulations (November 1990) relating to municipal stormwater discharges.

    To comply with this plan, the Alameda County Urban Runoff Clean Water Program (Urban Runoff Program) was initiated to comply with the Regional Board, State, and Federal requirements. The County and its 14 cities formed a task force in 1988 to manage a study to evaluate pollutants present in County storm waters discharged into the San Francisco Bay and to define and implement the steps required to meet the mandated water quality objectives.

    The objectives of the Urban Runoff Program include:

    • Public information and participation
    • Municipal government activities
    • New development and construction site controls
    • Illicit discharge identification and elimination
    • Industrial discharger identification and runoff control
    • Identify, characterize, and prioritize pollutant sources
    • Develop cost-effective source control
    • Storm water treatment
    • Evaluate effectiveness of controls
    • Administer the Urban Runoff Program
    • Identify and implement funding source(s)

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  3. What is the Flood Control Benefit Assessment Program?

    After the passage of Proposition 13 (1978), District funds were no longer adequate to keep the flood protection system, upon which the lives and property of District residents depended, in a safe, effective condition. At that time, the value of the system was estimated at $300 million. It included 493 miles of levees, pipelines, and channels, as well as 66 special facilities such as storm water pumping plants, dams, reservoirs, silt basins, trash racks, and tidegates.

    In 1979, after public hearings, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors adopted the Alameda County Flood Control Benefit Assessment Program (Program) to provide funding for the District. The Board instituted Program assessments beginning with the 1979-80 tax bills. This action was taken to decrease the risk of flooding and to keep the cost of needed maintenance down.

    In June 1980, the Board put the issue of continuing the assessment program on the ballot. The Benefit Assessment Program was approved by all County residents, except those in the Cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Piedmont, and San Leandro. San Leandro residents approved the Program in June 1984.

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  4. How are benefits assessed?

    In the past, assessments were levied on an ad valorem basis; that is, on the value of the property being protected. Following the passage of Proposition 13 (1978), State legislation required that assessments be based on benefit, not property value.

    The District Program is based on the concept that benefits are related directly to stormwater runoff from each property. The assessments are based on land use and parcel area, which directly relate to stormwater runoff. Land use information is provided by the County Assessor's Office.

    Further, the District is divided into "zones of benefit". Zones are based on major watershed areas. Each zone is treated as a separate financial entity for the purposes of maintaining and constructing facilities, and for the levying of assessments, based on needs within that zone's watershed area.

    The Board established five categories of land use for properties in the District:

    Group A - Commercial and Industrial Properties
    Group B - Institutions and Apartments; Mobile Home Parks and Condos (5 or more units)
    Group C - Single Family Residential and small Multiple Residential Properties (1-4 living units)
    Group D - Vacant Land used for farming, vineyards, irrigated crops
    Group E - Vacant Land, undisturbed, not titled or planted or irrigated may be used for grazing

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  5. How are assessments levied?

    Annually, the Board receives a report describing the proposed District programs and assessments. It holds noticed public hearings and, after public input, sets the amounts of the assessments for each property within each Flood Control District zone for the next fiscal year.

    Assessments are then levied. They are collected at the same time and in the same manner as Alameda County property taxes. They are listed as separate items on the tax bill. They are subject to the same fines, penalties, and forfeitures as property taxes.

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  6. What is "Flood Benefit X" on my tax bill?

    The tax bill lists the benefit assessment as "Flood Benefit 2," "Flood Benefit 9," etc. This identifies the district as "Flood," the assessment as a Benefit Assessment, and the zone number.

    The Flood Control Benefit Assessment Program is an assessment for the maintenance of major flood control facilities, such as dams, levees, reservoirs, and flood channels, for various watershed areas or zones of benefit. The number of an area identifies the "zone" of benefit.

    This assessment program was approved by the voters in June 1980 for all zones except Zone 9 ( San Leandro). Property owners for Zone 9 approved the assessment program in June 1984.

    Assessments are based on land use and land area as these items are directly related to stormwater runoff. It is not a property tax, it is an assessment for the benefit received from flood control facilities and programs in your flood watershed area. The assessment is based on stormwater runoff, not property value.

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  7. Which zone do I live in?


    City/Community Zone
    Alvarado 3A
    Baumberg 3A
    Castro Valley 2
    Centerville 5
    Cherryland 2
    Decoto 5
    Emeryville 12
    Fairview 2
    Fremont (north) 5
    Fremont (south) 6
    Hayward (north) 2
    City/Community Zone
    Hayward (central) 4
    Hayward (south) 3A
    Highland 3A
    Hillview 3A
    Irvington 6
    Mission San Jose 6
    Mohrland 4
    Mt. Eden 3A
    Newark 5
    Oakland 12
    City/Community Zone
    Russell City 4
    San Leandro (north) 13
    San Leandro (east) 2A
    San Leandro (central) 2
    San Leandro (south) 9
    San Lorenzo 2
    Union City (north) 3A
    Union City (south) 5
    Valle Vista 3A
    Warm Springs 6

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  8. I live on a hill. Why should I pay?

    All property contributes runoff which can cause flooding. The elimination of flood damages to homes, apartments, schools, streets, highways, stores, factories, and public facilities benefits everyone. In addition to contributing to runoff, most people need to travel to and from the hill to shop, go to schools, churches, medical facilities, etc.

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  9. We don't have floods. Why should I pay?

    Prior to the implementation of the flood control system, properties in Alameda County, particularly, those between Interstate Route 880 and the Bay, as well as areas of Hayward and Union City (formerly Alvarado) and areas adjacent to Lake Merritt, were subject to frequent flooding.

    Keeping the existing $300+ million flood control system in good repair and insuring that new developments do not already adversely impact the existing system require active monitoring and system maintenance to prevent future flooding.

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  10. I'm a senior citizen and I canít afford these taxes.

    There are no exemptions for senior citizens in the Flood Control Benefit Assessment Program. However, the County has information on tax payment options for Senior Citizens. The telephone number is (510) 272-6587.

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  11. This is church property. Aren't churches exempt from property taxes?

    The Flood Control assessment is a benefit assessment, not a property tax. The church property receives benefit from the Flood Control Programs and contributes stormwater runoff. Churches are not exempt.

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  12. When will this assessment be paid off?

    The assessment is for maintenance and operations of the zones' flood control facilities and programs. Assessments and work programs are reviewed annually by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Assessments may go up or down. Sometimes they may be reduced to zero, but the assessment is not "paid off."

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  13. Which zones have bonds? (last time we called...)

    • Zone 3A
    • Zone 4
    • Zone 5
    • Zone 6
    • Zone 7
    • Zone 9

    For bond information, please contact the Auditor-Controllerís Office, Tom Lum, at (510) 272-6557.

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  14. I get two property tax bills, but I only have one property (split parcel).

    Sometimes a parcel is split by a tax code area boundary, a city boundary, or some arbitrary parcel split. Contact us and we will investigate the situation. (sue@acpwa.org or 510-670-5552).

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  15. My property isn't a business; it's only my house.

    We usually will make a one-time adjustment based on the written request of the property owner (for the current year). The property owner should contact the Assessorís Office and have their Land Use corrected (www.acgov.org/assessor, Phone: 510-272-3787). The Land Use affects not just the amount of the benefit assessment, but the entire property tax bill.

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  16. My property isn't 200 acres; it's a small parcel.

    We will investigate to see if data has been entered incorrectly. Contact sue@acpwa.org or 510-670-5552.

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  17. My property is 200 acres, mostly used for cattle grazing, and it has one small house on it (it's not an industrial or business use).

    We will investigate and verify the Mixed Use (% of area for each use). Contact sue@acpwa.org or 510-670-5552.

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  18. I can't build on my property; it's really small (i.e., is landlocked, a road, a path, on the side of a hill, under water, etc.).

    We will investigate the situation to determine of an adjustment or an exemption is merited. Contact sue@acpwa.org or 510-670-5552.

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  19. My brother, two sisters, and I share an interest in the property, but my nephew is the listed owner. We need a statement allocating the costs.

    We will require the correct spelling of all involved parties and their interest share:

    Example:

    • Brother - 25%
    • Sister 1 - 25%
    • Sister 2 - 12.5%
    • Caller - 12.5%
    • Cousin - 25%

    Contact us at sue@acpwa.org or 510-670-5552.

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  20. Is Flood Benefit X in a flood hazard area or part of a flood insurance program?

    Flood Benefit X does not mean that the property is in a flood hazard zone. It is an assessment for the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

    If you wish to know if your parcel is in a flood hazard area, contact us at 510-670-5480.

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  21. The creek behind my house is full of weeds and debris.

    Contact Alameda County Maintenance and Operations at (510) 670-5500.

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  22. The drain in front of my house is plugged and the street is flooding.

    Flood Control pays for major flood control facilities. Storm drains are maintained by:

    Property in the Unincorporated Area
    Call Maintenance and Operations at (510) 670-5500

    Property in the City
    Call the city in which the property is located

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  23. Flooding from the creek/clogged storm drain caused damage to my property. Who do I talk to?

    All claims are processed through the Clerk of the Board, 1221 Oak Street, Suite 536, Oakland, CA 94612. Phone: 510-208-4949.

    If the request relates to tax exemptions, land use, or property value, refer the caller to the Assessorís Office at 510-272-3787.

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  24. When are tax payments due?

    Contact the Assessorís Office: www.acgov.org/assessor, (510) 272-3787.

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  25. I have a question regarding my property value or land use.

    Contact the Assessor's Office: www.acgov.org/assessor, (510) 272-3787.

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