For the first time, a local government outside of Miami-Dade County has taken direct action sparked by the Champlain Towers calamity.
Broward County Mayor Steve Geller formed a panel called the Condominium Structural Issues Committee with a singular goal: "To ensure that the tragedy in Surfside doesn’t occur again,” Geller said.
The committee includes two state senators, two state representatives, elected officials from local cities, and experts like structural engineer Dan Livrich, who said this panel is not trying to figure out what caused Champlain Towers to fall — that’s not their mission.
“It’s hard to draw conclusions when you don’t have data and don’t have information, and I’m trying to be fair but people ask me all the time, what’s your best guess, and I try to tell ‘em, engineers don’t guess,” Livrich said.
Surfside Condo Collapse
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The panel’s focus is to examine all the issues surrounding high-rise condominiums and to see what changes need to be made locally and statewide.
“For example, who is enforcing, currently, the 40-year inspection? Who is requiring condos to have appropriate insurance? The answer is, nobody’s really sure,” Geller said.
Geller says the insurance industry will have a lot to say about the future of high-rise building maintenance. Fred Nesbitt knows all about that issue. As president of the Galt Ocean Mile Community Association, he represents 30 condo buildings, 25 of which are on the beach.
“You talk about people in Surfside maybe trying to blame the board, but potentially equally liable are owners who constantly bash board members and say no assessments, no increase in maintenance, I’m gonna vote you out. Unfortunately a very vocal minority, but they tend to carry a lot of weight in a building,” Nesbitt said, pointing out a common scenario in condominiums.
With four state legislators on the committee, Geller thinks their recommendations, in the wake of a monumental tragedy, will change state laws.
“I’m expecting building codes will be revamped, particularly in the coastal areas,” Geller said.
The mayor is worried now that condominium living will become much more expensive, which could severely impact senior citizens living on fixed incomes.
The committee will meet three more times before it issues recommendations.