Palm Beach County Commissioners will shortly be providing information on the frequency of high-rise security checks following the fatal collapse of a 12-story Surfside condo.
The issue will be discussed at the commission meeting on Tuesday and provides a first glimpse of how the county might shape possible inspection requirements after the tragedy.
SURFSIDE, FLORIDA – JUNE
Joe Raedle / Photographer: Joe Raedle / Getty I
District officials, the Palm Beach County League of Cities, and construction officials from the 39 parishes spent the last week debating how to deal with the district's own aging infrastructure, with further details to be revealed in a meeting on Friday. The fire brigade and structural engineers will provide further insights in the coming weeks.
The process in its current form is very fluid, officials said.
"Nothing is in the books. Nothing is in the books," said deputy district administrator Patrick Rutter, who oversees the district's planning, zoning and construction department.
The building recertification process, only found in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, was a starting point, but officials said at least one change is safe.
"I think there is a consensus that 40 years is too long," said Richard Radcliffe, executive director of the local League of Cities. "The question is: what is enough?"
Officials have discussed the possibility of more frequent inspections of seaside buildings compared to indoor ones, said Kimberly Glas-Castro, vice mayor of Lake Park, who is also president of the League of Cities. Because the salty, salty elements can corrode building material faster.
Another consideration could be whether to include single-family homes in the inspection requirements that Palm Beach County's coastal communities may want to consider, but which are not included in the Miami or Broward recertification rules, she said.
Officials were careful not to place qualifiers that would limit their options from the start and awaited further suggestions from elected officials. This was also reflected in the revised agenda item for Tuesday, where the phrase "Recertification program for tall and large buildings" was replaced by "a program to assess the safety of certain types of buildings".
A uniform set of rules can be issued for the incorporated and unregistered areas of the district, or the requirements can differ from city to city. But it will need input from the 39 cities as most, if not all, of the high-rise condominiums are in community boundaries, Radcliffe said.
"Everyone has different ideas," added Rutter. "The coastal cities have different entrances than something far out to the west."
The municipalities are welcome to advance their own plans, said Rutter. While the commissioners are giving instructions to the county staff, the League of Cities is still gathering information from experts.
Some cities like West Palm Beach and Boca Raton have been looking to see if high-rise buildings within their boundaries need regular checks. Jupiter Councilor Ilan Kaufer directed the city manager this week to make recommendations on how the city could require buildings to be recertified.
Others, like Riviera Beach and the City of Palm Beach, have sent letters to building owners suggesting they hire engineers to do an inspection.
Not only are government officials on board, but also the construction industry.
"Everyone says:" Yes, we have to do something, "said Glas-Castro.
Radcliffe said he believes this issue will be a focus of the next legislature.
"This is not a job in the city and this is not a district job to correct the language of the homeowners' association and condominiums for maintenance," he said.
The Palm Beach Post writer Katherine Kokal contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared in the Palm Beach Post: Palm Beach County Will Be Talking About Changes To Surfside Building Inspection