Senate lays out changes to hurricane recovery post-Ian

'In the roughly six months since these devastating storms, we have gained a deeper understanding of the long-term impacts on communities across our state.'

The Senate is prepared to move forward on measures aimed at expediting hurricane recovery efforts, both for the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Ian and for future storms and natural disasters.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, sent a memo to members outlining the measures included in SB 250, a bill filed by Sen. Jonathan Martin, a Fort Myers Republican. Martin’s district, along with Passidomo’s, was battered by Ian. The Senate Select Committee on Resiliency has been workshopping ideas to aid recovery efforts in recent weeks.

“Florida’s Executive Branch, led by Governor Ron DeSantis, mounted an extraordinary effort in the state response to Hurricanes Ian and Nicole,” Passidomo stated in the memo. “In the roughly six months since these devastating storms, we have gained a deeper understanding of the long-term impacts on communities across our state.”

The bill, filed Friday, would require cities and counties to allow residents to live in trailers or recreational vehicles on their property for up to three years after a hurricane.

Residents must “make a good faith effort” to rebuild or renovate their damaged or destroyed home by applying for a building permit or getting a construction loan and the temporary shelter must be connected to water and electric utilities while not being a threat to public health and safety.

The Division of Emergency Management (DEM) would also be required to post on its website a model contract for debris removal for local governments by June 1 and update it each year. For rural counties, DEM would also have to “prioritize technical assistance and training” on safety and preparedness measures for natural disasters.

Permits that can be extended by six months during or after an emergency could now be extended by 24 months, or up to four years if multiple natural disasters hit during the extension.

Cities, counties and School Boards would be encouraged, but not required, to develop emergency financial plans for hurricanes and other major disasters. Local governments would also be able to create inspection teams to review and expedite building permits for temporary housing, including by entering arrangements with other cities and counties, and make plans to provide temporary housing to utility workers, first responders and contractors helping recovery efforts.

The bill would also prohibit local governments affected by Ian and Hurricane Nicole from increasing impact or building fees or making changes to their processes for comprehensive plan amendments or development regulations until Oct. 1, 2024. The provision would be retroactive to Sept. 29, 2022, the day after Ian made landfall in Florida.

But cities and counties would get a boost by an expansion of a bridge loan program created by lawmakers in the Special Session in December. The bill adds another $50 million to the $50 million the Legislature started the program with in December, and removes its sunset date, making it a permanent program.

Gray Rohrer

One comment

  • Mr. Haney

    February 27, 2023 at 2:49 pm

    Republicans have to be idiots who never learn. They act as if last year was the first hurricanes to hit Florida.

Comments are closed.


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