‘The goal is safety:’ Boca Raton pushes for building recertification standards in wake of Surfside

BOCA RATON — Boca Raton is one step closer to becoming the first city in Palm Beach County to implement stringent building recertification requirements, Mayor Scott Singer said Tuesday.

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 only inspected if complaints are filed.

That could change next month, however, as county commissioners Tuesday expressed interest in developing a recertification process similar to the two counties to their south.

The city and county plans likely would align, Singer said, even if the city’s goes into effect first.

“We will work together to harmonize and not have conflicting or confusing regulations. The goal is safety, and it’s a shared goal,” he said.

Cities and counties across Florida began to reexamine their building inspection policies and practices since the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside on June 24. The death toll in the collapse rose to 95 on Tuesday; 14 more people are unaccounted for.

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Singer said Boca’s plan is still being drafted but would come before the city council at its next meeting July 27. A vote would be at the following meeting.

The current draft would mean an initial recertification of no more than 30 years, periodic recertifications after that and more robust requirements for submissions of reports and studies, Singer said.

One proposal was for building inspection reports to be required to be filed with the city, thus making them a public record. Multiple residents cited difficulty getting those reports from their condo boards. Singer said condo boards are largely regulated by the state, which preempts cities from regulating condo boards. He said any new regulations would be for buildings, not condo boards.

Singer discussed Boca’s plans Tuesday night at his first in-person town hall since the COVID-19 pandemic forced virtual meetings. About 100 people attended.

Staff writer Wells Dusenbury contributed to this report.

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