PA ID# 037-70000; City of Santa Monica
DSR ID# 76057; Police Department Building
Citation: Second Appeal by the City of Santa Monica for the approval of the costs for an Architecture and Engineering report (and by inference, the costs of a complete seismic upgrade) on the Police Department Building.
Summary: The City of Santa Monica requests that DSR 76057 for $56,600 for an A&E study, previously determined ineligible, be made eligible. The basis for their claim is that (1) the potential for hidden structural damage exists, and the study is necessary to find it, and (2) a new City ordinance requires the completion of such a study. The City also made the claim that the funding in DSR 99961 for repairs is inadequate.
Issues: (1) Does FEMA have the exclusive discretion to determine when to fund an A&E study? (2) Does a requirement to carry out such a study in a local ordinance establish an eligibility claim against FEMA under FEMA's repair to current codes or standards provisions? (3) Does a local ordinance establishing upgrade requirements and triggers for a specific set of FEMA eligible buildings meet FEMA criteria under 44CFR206.223(a) for eligibility? In addition, can the costs for repairs be included in the appeal when this issue had not been raised in the first appeal?
Findings: The appeal is denied for the following reasons: (1) FEMA retains the sole discretion on when an A&E report shall be funded or required to be produced for the purpose of making FEMA funding determinations, (2) a local ordinance requiring an A&E study has no bearing on FEMA funding determinations pertinent to the cost of such an undertaking, and (3) the subject local ordinance fails to meet the criteria in 44 CFR 206.223(a) for FEMA funding eligibility determinations. In addition, the submittal of the repair costs in the appeal raises a new issue for which the appeal deadline has long passed.
Rationale: The Stafford Act provides funding for the post-disaster repair of structures. Only those costs necessary to design and construct such repairs in a code conforming manner are eligible for FEMA assistance. It is the responsibility of the applicant to make the initial identification of damage, including structural damage and then to apply to FEMA for funding to carry out repairs. Funding under the Stafford Act is not intended to cover the costs of extensive studies to find damage for which there is no evidence at the outset. FEMA regulations also establish criteria which any code or standard used for FEMA eligibility determinations must meet.