Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried said more than two decades of building deregulations led to the condo collapse in Surfside that killed at least 95, left 14 missing, and displaced scores of residents.
An NBC News report on Thursday identified a Florida law repealed in 2010 as a possible factor in the collapse.
The law, initially passed in 2008, could have accelerated the repair process for major structural damage that may have led to the building’s failure.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Fried’s opponent in the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial Primary, was the Governor who signed the repeal bill. But the Agriculture Commissioner refrained from singling out Crist when Florida Politics asked about his signature.
“We’ve had 24 straight years of deregulation across the entire state when it comes to building codes, when it comes to inspections, when it comes to the condo codes, development, so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Fried said. “This is not a time to just finger point, but a recognition that a lot has been done across the board over the last 24 years that has led up to what happened.”
The Agriculture Commissioner plans to hold a press conference on deregulation and Surfside later this week.
The law, sponsored by Republican Rep. Julio Robaina in 2008, required condo associations to hire engineers or architects to submit reports every five years about the cost of needed repairs. That could have prepared the condo association with an adequate reserve fund to make the necessary fixes.
Two years later, after Robaina left office, Republican Rep. Gary Aubuchon sponsored a bill that repealed those provisions. According to NBC, Robaina blamed real estate lawyers and property managers, who said they were overburdened, for the repeal.
Crist signed the bill as a Republican, but signed the repeal months after he announced he was leaving the GOP.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for a second term, harped on Crist’s involvement in the repeal after the story broke.