Hundreds of buildings in Boca Raton may be affected by new safety plan

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Aug 23, 2021 2:08 PM

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BOCA RATON — Boca Raton is on track to be the first city in Palm Beach County to implement a building safety recertification process in the wake of the Surfside collapse.

Buildings older than 30 years and taller than three stories or 50 feet would likely come under the new rules. Priority for inspections would be given to buildings near the ocean, because of saltwater’s corrosive effect on structures.

Changes since the last version of the ordinance include:

  • Explicitly exempting detached single-family homes and duplexes from this proposal.
  • Requiring more details when building owners submit inspection reports to the city.
  • Submitting draft versions of engineering reports to the city.
  • Requiring building owners to submit a repair plan to the city within 30 days of an inspection that finds repairs necessary.

There are about 20 building projects near the ocean, some with two or three buildings each.

Ocean Towers is seen on Friday, July 30, 2021. On August 24, the Boca Raton City Council is set to vote on implementing a building safety recertification plan.

Ocean Towers is seen on Friday, July 30, 2021. On August 24, the Boca Raton City Council is set to vote on implementing a building safety recertification plan. (Chris Day / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

About a dozen projects further west within city limits may also be affected. With office buildings included, the total could grow to hundreds of individual buildings, a city spokeswoman said.

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After the initial recertification, these buildings would need to be recertified every 10 years.

Building recertifications are required every 40 years by Broward and Miami-Dade counties, but no such requirement exists in Palm Beach County, where buildings get approved before construction and then inspected only if complaints are filed. Palm Beach County is in the process of drafting a program, but its implementation is likely months away, according to the county commission.

The proposal is similar to one from the city of Aventura, which is also looking to implement its own requirements, the Miami Herald reported. If passed, they would be more aggressive than Miami-Dade County’s, requiring condo board representatives and homeowners association managers to provide inspection reports to the city within 24 hours of receiving them.

The city could then send its own building officials for an inspection and possible repairs mandates, even if the building is newer than 40 years old. Violating the ordinance would subject the homeowners association or property manager to daily fines of up to $500 and up to 60 days in prison, the Herald reported.

The city’s five-member council will vote on the matter at its meeting Tuesday.

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