550 Ocean Dr. - Galen Breakers

A little warning apparently can go a long way.

Recertifications of 40-year-plus structures on Key Biscayne continue to show progress, as the latest three properties — more than three years overdue — beat a crucial 30-day deadline following $500 warning fines by the Village’s building department. 

In October, a dozen structures on the island were listed as non-compliant to Miami-Dade County’s recertification code, one which has gotten more uncompromising in the wake of the Surfside tragedy.

Three of those properties necessitated Notice of Violation fines on Nov. 15 and a warning placard was placed on the front of each structure. 

“Along with the fine, we notified them that if they did not have an engineer’s report to the Village within 30 days, we would report them to the County’s Unsafe Structures Board,” Village Manager Steve Williamson said.

The good news?

“By the time the 30 days arrived, all three properties (290 Sunrise Drive, Key Islander Condominium; 301 Sunrise Drive, North Sunrise Condo; and 218-240 Seaview Drive, Cape Florida Condo) had submitted their engineer’s report,” Williamson said Friday. 

Recertifications of structures in Miami-Dade and Broward counties call for a 40-year initial engineer’s safety report, followed by subsequent 10-year reports for the life of the building. 

County — and perhaps state — rules soon could likely be tweaked, drastically changing the initial inspection time of a structure along with more comprehensive examination and harsher penalties. 

Now, Williamson said, the Village is working on 10 properties, including the Citibank building on Crandon Boulevard, which are less than three years overdue. 

“We are sending them a Notice of Violation fine with the same message, that we will report them to the County’s Unsafe Structures Board if we do not receive their engineer’s report within 30 days,” he said.

The 10 properties receiving the notifications:

  1. 685 Ocean Dr. - Beach House

  2. 590 Ocean Dr.  - Ocean Manors Condo

  3. 200 Galen Dr. - Galen Drive West Condo

  4. 550 Ocean Dr. - Galen Breakers

  5. 605-615 Ocean Dr. - The Sands

  6. 150 Ocean Ln. Dr. - Island Breakers

  7. 256-262-272 Seaview Dr. - Canoga Properties

  8. 276-282-284 Seaview Dr. - Cape Florida Condo Cluster B

  9. 84 Crandon Blvd. - Citibank

  10. 101-257 East Enid Dr. - East Enid Townhouses

Consequences at the Unsafe Structures Board could range from daily fines to complete closure. 

“This last step will initiate the demolition proceedings for the property, or properties under your management,” the warning letter from the Village reads.

Miami-Dade County’s recertification rules go back to 1974 (in 2005, Broward County adopted similar codes). Property owners are required to have a Florida registered engineer or architect certify each building as structurally and electrically safe for the specified use of continued occupancy. 

Exempt in Miami-Dade County are single-family homes, duplexes and buildings with a capacity of 10 or fewer occupants that are 2,000 square feet or less.

The County requires notices be given 90 days prior to the deadline, but Key Biscayne Building Official Rene Velazco and his team have been working closely with property owners and are now issuing notices a year out, then another six months later. The County also has begun issuing “courtesy notices” well before the 90-day period approaches and is considering mandatory two-year notices.

In July, a month after the condo collapse in Surfside, killing 98 people, Miami-Dade County reported 24 buildings had been “red-tagged” (placard on front of the building) for violations mostly tied to the 40-year recertification process.

In all, some 75 buildings on Key Biscayne are older than 40 years.

“We’re not doing this to make money,” Williamson told the IslanderNews late last year. “We’re doing it to enforce the (rules and safety issues) and get people to do what’s right.”

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