By Mary Hladky
A proposed Boca Raton ordinance will require buildings 30 years old or older to be inspected to determine if they are safe, with subsequent inspections every 10 years.
The ordinance will apply to buildings that are taller than three stories, or 50 feet, and that are occupied by 500 or more people.
The mandatory inspections must be conducted by both a structural and an electrical engineer, who will identify any deficiencies and needed repairs. They also will say how long it will take to do the work.
Owners will be responsible for hiring the engineers, who would submit reports to the city.
Owners will be given 180 days to complete the repairs, although they would have to be done sooner if the inspection identifies serious problems.
The proposed ordinance was prompted by the horrific Surfside condo collapse that has claimed nearly 100 lives. It will establish recertification standards like those that exist in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but that Palm Beach County never adopted.
But Boca’s ordinance would be more stringent. Miami-Dade and Broward require recertification when a building is 40 years old.
Other cities and Palm Beach County also are considering ordinances intended to avert a disaster like Surfside’s.
Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer first proposed a city ordinance, and has said that he wanted the city to be the first to adopt one. But he is willing to amend the ordinance if other cities and the county reach an agreement on the best way to make buildings safer so that uniformity exists.
The ordinance will be introduced at the City Council’s July 27 meeting, but no other action will take place then. The council will vote on Aug. 24 and the ordinance will take effect immediately if approved.
Under the proposed ordinance, the city’s chief building official will send a “notice of required inspection” to the owner of a building requiring recertification at least one year before the recertification deadline.
Although he did not have a specific count, City Manager Leif Ahnell said in a memo to the City Council that many buildings will meet the requirements for recertification, creating a backlog.
As a result, the chief building official will prioritize buildings for inspections based on factors such as building age, location, construction materials and number of residents.