Budget conference: Senate snubs coastal condo-hardening capital

colorful resort condominiums
The chambers are $30M apart.

A proposed pilot program to help coastal condo owners strengthen their properties against seasonal storms has ample funding support from the House — and none from the Senate.

In ongoing budget negotiations between the chambers, House lawmakers offered $30 million in nonrecurring funds to the program, an offshoot of the home-hardening grant program state lawmakers resurrected in 2022.

The Senate’s counteroffer: zilch.

Reached by text, Miami Republican Rep. Vicki Lopez, a sponsor of legislation that would create the condo pilot, told Florida Politics she isn’t sure why there’s disagreement.

Both the bill she sponsored with Parkland Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky (HB 1029) and a similar measure by St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Nick DiCeglie (SB 1366) await floor votes after sailing through three committee stops each with unanimous support.

“We so need that relief for condo owners who, too, are residents of Florida and deserve the opportunity to harden their buildings and reduce their insurance premiums,” Lopez said.

Florida Politics contacted DiCeglie and Hunschofsky for comment but received none by press time.

If approved, the My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program would allow condo owners to benefit from grants now afforded to single-family houses and townhomes across Florida through the My Safe Florida Home. Lawmakers have apportioned $433 million over the past two years to the existing program.

The condo-specific program would provide condo associations within 15 miles of the coastline hurricane-mitigation inspections and guidance on their eligibility for grants to improve their roofs, doors and windows.

All grants would be matched based on $1 provided by the condo association for $2 from the state. The state would cover up to half the cost of roof-related projects and up to $1,500 per unit for doors and windows.

Grants would be capped at $175,000 per condo association.

SB 1366 and HB 1029 are part of a wave of bills lawmakers filed following the June 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside that killed 98 people.

Others include a measure Lopez is backing with Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley to broaden condo board oversight and accountability and a controversial proposal by Miami Springs Republican Sen. Bryan Ávila and North Fort Myers Republican Rep. Spencer Roach that would allow the owners of locally designated historic structures to demolish and replace them with bigger, denser buildings that meet modern safety strictures.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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