The Delta Variant & The Building Department: Hallandale Beach Officials Are Working On Health & Safety Throughout The City

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

July 29, 2021

The City of Hallandale Beach let go their Building Official and two permit clerks resigned as well. With the Chaplain Towers collapse there has been a heightened awareness of all aspects of building and building safety

As fear is beginning to grip our Nation over the Delta variant, we all need to remain vigilant. Recently, I received a call from a resident, who was not calling about herself, but about our many seniors that are now questioning what they can and cannot do. Obviously, they all need to be vaccinated. It is safe and it does help to prevent getting the virus. There has been a break through, but those cases are rare. There is also the rare case, that those vaccinated, may still catch the Viral Delta Strain.

I have a longtime friend from Philadelphia who is a doctor. He is certified and specializes in Geriatric Medicine and Elder Care. In a conversation, he explained that he has seen a few patients, that have caught the Delta Strain, after being vaccinated. He did tell us, that they are not getting severe cases, like he has seen over the past year and half. He is telling his patients to wear their masks and continue to follow the CDC's Guidelines, by wearing a mask, washing your hands often and practice, social distancing.

Here in Florida, our Governor has kept the course of business, as usual. I had to tell the young lady who called me as a mayor, that our hands are tied. We have been preempted from establishing mask mandates and regulations to limit business operations. He has even doubled down in his battle against cruise ships. During COVID-19, we were informed that Condominiums, do have more leeway in establishing rules within their buildings. Legally, condo boards will have to ask their attorneys what they can do particularly, when it comes to masks and other rules.

It is particularly alarming that our Broward infection rates have climbed higher. The last update we have received it was 13%. Our hospitals are once again getting overloaded. Sadly, we are seeing young adults and teenagers ending up in the ICU’s. As a grandparent, I was so happy that my Grandson got his doses of the vaccine. He was fine after the first one, but, he was a bit tired, after the second one. I am now, really concerned about my younger grandchildren, who will be starting PreK 4, on August 10th and I am sure that many of the other parents are concerned too. The message is getting the vaccine, as soon as it is available and if you are at high risk, wear a mask.

In other business, our City let go of our Building Official and two permit clerks resigned. With the collapse of the Chaplain Towers, there have been, heightened awareness of all aspects of buildings and building safety. I need to note, we have never stopped processing permits, our Staff continues working diligently and to date, we have an acting Building Official and we have hired, two clerks.

Recently, you may have seen a Channel 10 report of complaints about our Building Department. I must share that we know that no one likes to have to file, for permits. It is a complex and arduous process. Our department is required by law to protect and serve our residents and ensure that permits, meet the stringent requirements set by the state and the Board of Rules and Appeals, we will never sign off on incomplete permits. Every applicant is different, every permit is different and the process must be thorough, for everyone’s safety.

The news report, was a result of a Town Hall Meeting, at the Hemispheres Condominium, where many residents vocalized their frustrations, over work that had still been not completed. At the meeting, one of the contractor/engineers was pointing fingers to the City and to our building department. I received a heads up from a resident that was at the meeting. Once I received this information, I got right to work to find out what had transpired and where the communication had been broken down.

It turns out, that this contractor had filed a permit last year. The building department had made comments on the permit that were not addressed by the contractor. In addition, he had not signed his permit documentation properly. At that time, the permit had expired, it was reinstated. While this was during COVID-19, our Staff, was still working, but with limited office hours and it, still sat incomplete.

In May, the contractor filed a new permit and at that time, our Staff had made comments, that, once again were not responded to, actually three times. He needed to submit required documents from the County, as well as basic information from what I could see in the permit.

When I was asked by the press what was going on, I informed them, that we were working with the contractors, but there were many issues impacting the results. My main goal was to ensure that the permit was taken care of. I have written about permitting, many times and will continue to work with any resident, board and contractor, when it comes to glitches or human error within the system and from applicants not submitting, required informa-tion. Our department cannot sign off on, insufficient permits. They will work with applicants, but, applicants have a responsibility, too. The process goes as such. All permits are required to be signed off by licensed, registered, insured contractors and subcontractors. Even with owner builders, plans must meet, the same requirements. Obviously, the permits must meet all building codes. Many permits are required to be signed off by Broward County, for asbestos certifications. The permit is uploaded by the applicant and they receive a note, once it was received.

The permit is now in our hands and goes through the review cycle. Comments are made by each inspector that are involved. This can include structural, electrical, plumbing, zoning and building. If any items are deficient, they are noted. It is up to the applicants to follow the permit, make corrections and resubmit it. We will upload documents, if an applicant is having issues for a fee. We know that some individuals do not have the technology to submit permits, we are here to help and we also, realize there is always the possibility of human error, on all sides.

The cycle for comments under normal circumstances, should be less than 7 Business Days. Due to COVID-19 and the Staffing issues, the process has been taking longer and currently, it has been three up to 3 weeks. We cannot make corrections, it is solely up to the applicants. It also needs to be noted, that our City Hall is open Monday to Thursday 8-6. The Building Department takes walk-ins between 8-4. You can also make an appointment.

As always, I am available anytime for your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City, a better place, on my phone/text at: (954) 632-5700. Or you can e-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org . Please visit my Facebook Page: MayorJoyCooper. Like It! Friend It! Share It!