Following the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South, a mid-rise condominium building in Surfside, Florida, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) asked staff to explore options on how to monitor the safe occupation of existing structures in Monroe County. 

Staff is developing guidelines and criteria for minimum requirements for structures four stories or more, built before Jan. 1, 2000, with some exemptions. There are 23 properties identified in unincorporated Monroe County, all located in the Upper Keys, that fit the criteria.

Based on information from the Monroe County Property Appraiser and Monroe County’s GIS database, unincorporated Monroe County currently has approximately 870 structures built prior to 2000 that are not single-family or duplex homes.

Of the 870 structures, findings include:

— A significant amount of the inventory is more than 30 years old.

— More than 67% are located in the Upper Keys (north of Mile Marker 91, Tavernier area)

— 13% are taller than two stories.

— Condominiums represent 32% of the structures.

— Warehouse, one-story stores, multi-family (less than 10 units), hotel/motel, and mixed use-residential commercial represent 31% of the structures.

How unsafe structures are inspected or declared unsafe is outside the scope of the Florida Building Code. Therefore, local jurisdictions may choose to implement property/building maintenance regulations or standards.

While the county has an existing unsafe-structure process, it depends on concerns reported from residents and observers to determine when to initiate an investigation into potentially unsafe buildings, structures, equipment or service systems. The process includes an inspection of the several systems of the building, including structural, electrical, gas, mechanical and plumbing. The current review of unsafe structures in unincorporated Monroe County is not a preemptive maintenance program and is not a comprehensive review of the current building inventory.

“Maintenance of the structural integrity of buildings in Monroe County is of critical importance to the health and safety of our residents,” said Rey Ortiz, assistant building inspector for Monroe County. “The county will continue its current process outlined in the Monroe County Code, while monitoring Miami-Dade County adoptions, as well as any updates to the Florida Building Code or Florida Statutes.”

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