Gov. DeSantis signs bill banning localities from blocking demolition, replacement of old, coastal buildings

It was a hot-button issue for many oceanside cities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has quietly signed legislation that will make it easier for developers to raze coastal and sometimes historic buildings and replace them with structures as large as local zoning allows.

The measure (SB 1526), dubbed the “Resiliency and Safe Structures Act,” prohibits local governments from blocking or restricting the demolition of buildings that intersect or fall within the coastal construction control line (CCCL) and are either:

— Nonconforming with the National Flood Insurance Program’s flood elevation requirements for the area.

— Ordered unsafe by a local official.

— Ordered to be torn down by a local government with jurisdiction over the property.

The property owner would then be able to construct a new building on the site up to the maximum height and density for which the area is zoned.

Single-family homes, structures on the National Register of Historic Places and certain buildings within a barrier island or municipality with a population smaller than 10,000 residents would be exempt.

DeSantis signed it Friday afternoon.

The bill, which passed 36-2 in the Senate and 86-29 in the House, is a more finely tailored version of legislation Miami Springs Sen. Bryan Ávila and North Fort Myers Rep. Spencer Roach, both Republicans, first introduced last year.

The goal, they said, is to prevent another tragedy like the Surfside condo collapse by unshackling property owners from the whims of local historic preservation boards and the city governments to which they answer.

“The problem is that we have some local jurisdictions where the governing body — and sometimes this is outsourced to a local historic board, which in some cases are acting as a de facto zoning commission — are arbitrarily denying someone’s permit to demolish a structure and rebuild a new one,” Roach said ahead of the bill’s passage early this month.

“What we’re trying to get away from is the unfairness of a governing commission violating their own zoning standards arbitrarily and capriciously.”

Ávila described the legislation as an attempt to strike “a delicate balance between property rights and history.”

Opposition to the bill came from coastal communities across Florida, no more so than from Miami Beach, where the local historic board has deemed thousands of structures as historic, including whole city districts.

Miami Beach Commissioner Alex Fernandez was among the first to sound the alarm about the legislation last year, when the legislation would have cleared all but a few of those structures for demolition.

He said changes made to this year’s version of the bill — including using the Department of Environmental Protection’s CCCL as a standard rather than a half-mile distance from the ocean and other carve-outs — put waterside cities “in a much better position.”

The measure, which went into effect with DeSantis’ approval, fully exempts the cities of St. Augustine, Key West, Palm Beach, Tampa, Pensacola, West Palm Beach and Panama City.

Several Miami Beach neighborhoods locally designated as historic, including Ocean Drive and the Art Deco District, among others, are unaffected too.

The new law still has problems, Fernandez said.

“Not all unsafe structures are the same,” he said. “Some unsafe structures come out of a simple elevator violation, or someone might do work without a permit, or you have a leak in a building and a building official might use that as a method to achieve compliance. But that might not mean that the building is unsafe for occupancy.”

In her argument against the measure on the House floor, St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Lindsay Cross noted that the CCCL is meant to give developers and local governments pause before beginning large-scale projects — not unleash construction within it of numerous structures all built as big and dense as local zoning permits.

“For every older, two-story motel that doesn’t meet the standards for new development that is situated next to a 200-unit hotel, that modest-sized building can be replaced by another 200-bed hotel, increasing traffic, making hurricane evacuation more difficult, potentially increasing insurance rates and perpetuating a cycle of risk,” she said.

Leaving things the way they were also perpetuated risk and, in some cases, “left numerous coastal buildings vacant and a blight on the surrounding community,” lawyer Keith Poliakoff of Government Law Group said.

“Some local governments are so concerned with maintaining community character that they have created major obstacles in getting these obsolete buildings reconstructed,” he said in a statement. “This law eliminates the politics.”

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.


  • Dont Say FLA

    March 22, 2024 at 3:56 pm

    Now any local official can declare any building to be “unsafe” so his developer buddies can raze it and build the condos they want.

    Rhonda is great at governing, but for ultra rich ice holes only.

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    • Robert Rosen

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  • rick whitaker

    March 23, 2024 at 11:23 am

    you elect maga candidates, you get maga policies. maybe we can raze mar lago to get the trump stench out.

  • Mike Cope

    March 23, 2024 at 7:00 pm

    Well, the color of this new law is good.
    If I were a business owner along the coast. I’d have, on hand, a completely updated legal and certified architectural rebuild of the EXACT type of structure I currently operate. Complete wit all current Florida building for coastal structures. This way, some mega company couldn’t come in and take by eminate domain.


      March 24, 2024 at 6:51 am

      Exactly! Sometimes somethings just have to be let go of.

      • Robert Rosen

        March 24, 2024 at 10:55 am

        Right. Like the absolutrly outdated thinking of the reich-wing.

        Why/how do they think they speak for, or on behalf of, 100% of the population. They say smaller gov’t reach, but all they want to do is CONTROL EVERYTHING.

  • Robert L Schaetzl

    March 24, 2024 at 12:50 pm

    I wrote a letter to Governor DeSantis and it never even made it to his desk! As a Disabled Deputy Sheriff and Police Officer injured twice in the line of duty and was discriminated, denied promotion by my supervisor while going to physical therapy, even though I met all the requirements for the promotion to Master Deputy which would have increased my paygrade, and after years of harassment I was unlawfully Demoted to a Civilian Position which cost me a reduction in my High Risk Retirement Benefits and Then, instead of allowing me to Retire on a Disability, they terminated my employment even though I continued to work in the division and made more arrests than all the other Deputies in the Unit during my time in the Fugitive Unit (Warrants Division). This was all because I wouldn’t support Sheriff Ken Ergle who I had a negative feeling about every time he came near me, I just couldn’t put my finger on why I felt he was Dirty, and he was arrested shortly after for several charges, including theft of over $200,000.00 in drug forfeiture funds.
    I met with Sheriff Ed Dean, who had a law practice out of state as well, and every time I received an award for catching inmates violating all sorts of violations, I was invited to meet with Sheriff Dean on at least 5 or 6 occasions to receive an award and he would ask me is there anything that he could do for me? I came right out every time, give me back my high risk retirement benefits and Deputy Sheriff Status, which the last Sheriff violated State Retirement Disability Law for Sworn Law Enforcement Officers, when he demoted me to corrections assistant (civilian position), and lost my high risk retirement benefits.
    After doing the job I was supposed to do and Sworn to do by the State Constitution, and I can’t even get the Governor to respond, but one of his “Aids” who probably couldn’t tell you which way is North!

  • J Cherise

    March 24, 2024 at 2:12 pm

    As being a life long Florida Resident This guy Desantis is seriously the biggest knee slobber for his rich cronies as any other Governor of Florida that I’ve seen .. he’s awful.

Comments are closed.


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