The Tragic Event of Champlain Towers Is Still Resonating Around The Globe

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

July 1, 2021

CADENA Israel is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assist in emergencies and prevention of natural disasters around the world. ( Cadena Israel Facebook Photo June 26th Surfside Fl - www.facebook.com/cadenaenisrael/ )

Words cannot express the deep sadness many of us felt when we heard the news. As of Monday, there was still hope and officials continued search and rescue operations. Our prayers need to continue. I am so proud of our City and the help that we are providing to assist Mayor Burkett and their staff. A special prayer also goes out to all of the first responders that have been working around the clock. A special thank you goes to Cadena Israel, a special search and recovery team from Israel and there are others from around the state that came to help.

The speculation and theories that have been presented over the building failure, is now on all of our minds. I want to inform our Residents and Our Staff, that on Thursday, when we went to work to evaluate all of our condominium's statuses and audits of those that have or have not filed building inspections.

In 2005, Broward County adopted the 40 Year Building Safety Inspection Program. It was created after a tragic building collapse in Miami. In 1974, there was a garage collapse that killed seven people, as well as numerous balcony collapses. Ironically, Dade County, has had a program since the 1970’s, which provides mandatory inspections of structural, integral and electrical of all buildings that are 40 years old, except for single family homes. We are different from Dade County, which has set a threshold 6 stories or more.

There is an annual schedule that has been established by the County. Every June, The Property Appraiser, sends a list to the Board of Rules and Appeals. BORA is a separate, statewide agency that has individual boards in each County which regulates building codes and standards. Each BORA, sends the city building departments their list of buildings due for inspections. Each building official, in turn, sends written notifications to each building by August. Upon receipt of the notice, building boards have 90 days to hire an engineer, provide the completed building's inspections check list and if there are findings, then the building has 180 days to complete all of the repairs.

As with any regulations, there are some interpretations that impact repairs that are dependent on the engineer’s report. Repairs that are deemed eminent or life threatening are prioritized, those that are not are handled differently. These decisions are the building official’s responsibility. There is a point in which the official report can reveal any unsafe building structures. The building officials can also deem emergency closures of the buildings.

Over the years, I have heard complaints from so many unit owners about condo boards and having to pay assessments for repairs. Sadly, due to this event, hopefully it has driven home, that the fact of living in a condo, your responsibly does not stop when you shut your front door. Monthly maintenance payments do not mean, that you have paid for everything to maintain your building's safety structures. Just like a single-family home, you need to replace the roof, the paint, sealant and repairing of structural issues.

On the other hand, we also have boards that do not do their jobs in ensuring their buildings are maintained. Many buildings waive reserves that result in large lump sum assessments and then many unit owners cannot pay. I blame our state legislators for this issue and those that lobbied for this waiver. As we have heard, out of Surfside, there are two buildings that were built the same way, at the same time, but they were maintained differently and they are in different conditions. Even putting off painting and sealing, can have adverse impacts and the worse impact structural integrity, which can lead to failure, as we have witnessed with this grave tragedy.

Even though our Commission takes a break over the 4th Of July holiday, I along with my colleagues are following up on these issues. I am sure, that we will be working with Broward County and other cities, who are evaluating the current programs, to see if there is a need of much more rigorous inspections, particularly for those along the coast.

I want to thank our City Manager Earle and Assistant City Manager Sandoval for being very proactive by doing an audit of our buildings. I also want to recognize the hard work of Commissioner Lima Taub. We joined together, to make sure the Condominium Transparency Act was passed in our City. Each Condo is required to register on-line with our City. Included in the registry is: Whether or not, the building has had its forty year inspection, current projects, budgets and other critical information, this will assure residents of what is, or is not taking place in their respective buildings. This program has been endorsed by realtors in Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County, I am sure we will be looking at it again.

Wishing you all, a very safe and blessed 4th of July!

As always, feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas on how to make our City, a great place to live, work and play! I am available on my phone or by text at: (954) 632-5700. You can e-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org. Or visit my Facebook page at: Mayor Joy Cooper. Or you can visit, my web-site at: www.MayorJoyCooper.com