Miami Beach's Initial Review of Buildings in 40-Year Recertification Process Nearly Complete

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach's Initial Review of Buildings in 40-Year Recertification Process Nearly Complete:

Next step: Professional Reports on Building Conditions

In the days following the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Miami Beach was one of the local governments that began an inventory and visual inspection of buildings in the 40-year recertification process. Though an engineer flagged problems in 2018, the Champlain Towers condo association was only in the beginning phases of the 40-year process for the building which was constructed in 1981.

At a special City Commission meeting on Monday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, “We’re going to take an informed and methodical approach to this and not one based in panic, but one based in reason”

There are over 5,000 commercial buildings in the City of Miami Beach, 507 of which are within or approaching their 40-year recertification process. So far, the City has visually inspected 489 of those properties, according to City Manager Alina Hudak. The visual inspections are designed “to identify any obvious signs of structural concerns.” As of Friday, there was no further information available on the results of those inspections.

Hudak told the Mayor and Commissioners in a letter issued Friday that, in addition to the visual inspections, the Building Department has issued letters to the 507 buildings “requiring reports from licensed design professionals that must detail the conditions of the structural and electrical systems and include a cover letter indicating whether the buildings can be occupied. The reports must be submitted to the City within 21 days and will be reviewed by Ana Salgueiro, PE, the City of Miami Beach Building Official.”

The buildings’ files will then be reviewed in a prioritized manner, Hudak said. 

“Over and above this effort, residents are understandably worried about safety, and the City is receiving concerns about individual buildings. These requests are also being assigned to the inspection team to research further,” she noted.

“The Building Department utilizes a progressive enforcement approach to violations, which may range from minor to major, with timeframes and requirements for compliance,” Hudak wrote. 

The City Manager said this a multi-departmental response that involves her office, the Marketing and Communications Department’s Neighborhood Affairs Division, Community and Housing Department, Code Compliance Department, Fire Rescue Department, and the City Attorney and City Clerk’s Office.

In addition to conducting inspections, Hudak noted, the Building Department’s call center is “handling a large call volume from the community.”

“The Housing and Community Services Department is mobilized to relocate residents, if needed, based on unsafe structure requirements,” she said.

At the City Commission meeting, Hudak noted, “The buildings within [the City’s] jurisdiction have completed their 40-year certification process.”

Longer term, the Mayor and Commissioners may discuss potential changes to the City Code. While the City follows the State and County Building Codes, officials are exploring options for potentially strengthening the City Code even further but that would depend on what the State and County do. Earlier this week, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava said she would put together a panel of experts “from engineering to legal to construction to development to soil to geology” to recommend updates to the County’s building code and inspection requirements.

More information on the 40-year recertification process can be found here.


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