Florida gov signs condo safety bill after building collapse

May 26, 2022, 2:44 PM | Updated: 7:06 pm
State Sens., from left, Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach and Laure...

State Sens., from left, Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach and Lauren Book, D-Plantation confer during debate on Senate Bill CS/SB 2-D: Property Insurance in the Florida Senate Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

(AP Photo/Phil Sears)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida will require statewide recertification of condominiums over three stories tall under new legislation Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday as a response to the Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people.

But while the measure was hailed by lawmakers, the senator who represents Surfside, Democrat Jason Pizzo, warns there’s a lot more to do — and the state doesn’t have enough structural engineers to handle the workload required to make sure all the state’s high-rise condominiums are safe.

“Tell your nieces and daughters and sons to go study engineering,” Pizzo said.

The governor’s signature came the day after the House unanimously passed the bill during a special session originally called to address skyrocketing property insurance rates. The condominium safety bill was added to the agenda Tuesday and immediately passed by the Senate.

Recertification will be required after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. The Champlain Towers South was 40 years old and was going through the 40-year-recertification process required by Miami-Dade County when it collapsed last June.

At the time, Miami-Dade and Broward counties were the only two of the state’s 67 that had condominium recertification programs.

There are more than 1.5 million condominium units in Florida operated by nearly 28,000 associations, according to a legislative analysis conducted earlier this year, Of those, more than 912,000 are older than 30 years and are the home to more than 2 million residents.

Pizzo said there are about 650 certified structural engineers in Florida. And there’s a high demand for them on new construction alone. Most of the provisions of the law will take effect in 2024, so there is some time to prepare, Pizzo said.

“We’re going to be back in regular session at least one more time before any of this really kicks in, which gives ample time to tweak, amend, hear from the public and people on the ground,” said Pizzo, who is hosting a public forum on the new law with other legislators next month.

He said that the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation doesn’t have enough staff to handle condo regulation.

“They’re operating on bare bones,” he said. “When it comes to life safety issues, I’m just not comfortable that the same agency that licenses manicurists are also licensing engineers for buildings … They need to be well resourced.”

The bill would require that condominium associations have sufficient reserves to pay for major repairs and conduct a study of the reserves every decade. It would also require condominium associations to provide inspection reports to owners, and if structural repairs are needed, work must begin within a year of the report.

Similar legislation failed during the regular session that ended in March.

Meanwhile, a final settlement agreement is expected Friday that will pay at least $96 million to homeowners with condos in the Surfside building but whose families suffered no loss of life.

The condominium legislation was attached to a bill that would forbid insurers from automatically denying coverage because of a roof’s age if the roof is less than 15 years old. Homeowners with roofs 15 years or older would be allowed to get an inspection before insurers deny them coverage.

While some Democratic lawmakers complained that the special session on insurance didn’t go far enough to help relieve homeowners, they did praise the addition of the condominium safety legislation.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Georgia monument that some called satanic damaged by bomb

ELBERTON, Ga. (AP) — A rural Georgia monument that some conservative Christians have criticized as satanic was bombed before dawn on Wednesday, damaging one of four granite panels that some people dubbed “America’s Stonehenge.” The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the Georgia Guidestones monument near Elberton was damaged by an explosive device. Elberton Granite Association […]
10 hours ago
Maryah Lauer and Chauncy Johnson pose for a photo in Colorado Springs, Colo., shortly after interru...
Associated Press

Democrats frustrated by party’s response to abortion ruling

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — As Sen. Michael Bennet sought to encourage a small crowd of fellow Democrats not to give up the fight for abortion rights, Maryah Lauer stepped forward, bullhorn in hand, to exhort him to do more. “Do you support ending the filibuster and expanding the court?” the 28-year-old called out from […]
10 hours ago
Former Italian Premier and 5-Star Movement Leader Giuseppe Conte talks to journalists outside Chigi...
Associated Press

Italian govt staves off immediate prospect of early election

ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Mario Draghi’s government on Wednesday staved off the immediate prospect of an early election after a key ally indicated he would remain in the coalition for now. Draghi met with former Premier Giuseppe Conte, now the leader of the populist 5-Star Movement, for more than an hour. Draghi, whose coalition […]
10 hours ago
The National Assembly is pictured as French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivers a speech in Par...
Associated Press

French government plans to nationalize electricity giant EDF

PARIS (AP) — France’s government plans to nationalize indebted French electricity giant EDF amid a broad energy crisis aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Wednesday. The French state now holds an 84% stake in the company, one of the world’s biggest electricity producers. Shares in EDF, which has suffered a […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate A...
Associated Press

US, UK leaders raise fresh alarms about Chinese espionage

LONDON (AP) — The head of the FBI and the leader of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency raised alarms Wednesday about the Chinese government, warning business leaders that Beijing is determined to steal their technology for competitive gain. FBI Director Christopher Wray reaffirmed previous concerns in denouncing economic espionage and hacking operations by China as well […]
10 hours ago
Juvenile smallmouth bass sit at a National Park Service laboratory near Page, Ariz., July 1, 2022. ...
Associated Press

Biologists’ fears confirmed on the lower Colorado River

Denver, Colo. (AP) — For National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Arnold, it was a moment he’d been dreading. Bare-legged in sandals, he was pulling in a net in a shallow backwater of the lower Colorado River last week, when he spotted three young fish that didn’t belong there. “Give me a call when you […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Florida gov signs condo safety bill after building collapse