A report from 2010 indicates that then Governor Charlie Crist signed a condo repeal bill, which is now being investigated for playing a role in the Surfside condo collapse, to “woo” democratic voters in his race for the U.S Senate.
The report, published in the Palm Beach Post on June 25th, 2010, stated that “Gov. Charlie Crist was on the photo-op express Thursday signing the same bill three times in a two-hour period.”
The bill, SB 1196, was sold as a way to “help distressed condominium associations” during a down real estate market by repealing certain regulations that were put in place in 2008.
Crist told the condo residents at the bill signing events that the legislation was important to him and would empower “condominium owners to make their own decisions about their associations.”
But now, over ten years later, reports indicate that there were provisions repealed in SB 1196 that may have contributed to delayed action related to structural deficiencies at the Champlain Towers South.
Based on a report by NBC 6 South Florida, the 2008 law required condo associations to hire engineers or architects to submit reports every five years about how much it would cost to keep up with repairs.
However, SB 1196 did away with these requirements.
Why is this important?
NBC reported, that a year before the collapse “the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association began a desperate search for $16.2 million to fix major structural damage that was slowly threatening the Surfside high-rise.” At the time, the condo board documents indicated the association had only $770,000 in reserves.
“If the owners would have had a reserve study, if the board was proactive and had funded its reserves, this never would have happened,” said Julio Robaina, a former Republican state legislator.
According to the NBC report, Robaina sponsored the 2008 law requiring condo associations to hire engineers or architects to submit reports every five years about how much it would cost to keep up with repairs.
SB 1196 was sponsored by former state Rep. Gary Aubuchon, a Republican real estate broker and home-builder. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House (111-3) and the Senate (39-0) before being signed by Crist.