Miami-Dade's Unsafe Structures Board Has Backlog of 1,000 Cases

Miami-Dade County's Unsafe Structures Board has a backlog of 1,000 unsafe-structure cases from even before the deadly Surfside condo tower collapse on June 24, the Miami Herald reported.

Beginning this week, an engineer's report stating that a building is structurally safe is now mandated before an extension can be granted when recertifications are so overdue they have been brought to the Unsafe Structures Board, according to the Associated Press.

If a building is unable to get an engineer's report endorsement promptly enough, residents will have to be evacuated, said Spencer Errickson, supervisor of the county's Unsafe Structures division, at a meeting Wednesday.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Miami-Dade 1,000 Unsafe Structure Backlog
Miami-Dade County reportedly has a backlog of 1,000 unsafe structure cases. In this pic, a portion of the 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partial collapse of the building on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It was the first time the board has met since the tower, which was undergoing a 40-year recertification, collapsed. At least 97 people were killed as a result of the incident.

Members of the board that hears enforcement cases brought by county and city inspectors against buildings deemed unsafe or out of compliance said they want to crack down on delays rather than defer them to future meetings, the Herald reported.

"We are here every month. Every month," board member Lynn Matos said. "I don't understand how we can have over 1,000-something cases sitting out there, and we don't know why."

Cities within the county have their own building departments and inspectors, but all except for Miami and Miami Gardens use the county's system for hearing unsafe-structure cases, according to the newspaper.

On Wednesday, board members said they are frustrated with cities requesting deferrals without sending building department officials to provide answers during the monthly meeting. Board members said they are running out of patience with delays.

"The stuff has really hit the fan right now, with this building in Surfside," said board member Marco Gorrin. "Why are we continuing to defer? ... It just continues to drag."

Officials said most violations are not typically serious, but are included on a list of items needed to bring a building into compliance, such as proper labeling on a fuse box or stucco replacement.

Errickson said some of the backlogged cases are stalled by court action, where owners sue and freeze enforcement proceedings. Some are considered in compliance as they conduct repairs. And others get delayed once officials see progress is being made toward the fixes.

"We're trying to work with them," Errickson said.

Miami-Dade Unsafe Structure Backlog Cases
Miami-Dade County reportedly has a backlog of 1,000 unsafe structure cases. In this pic, a resident of the Crestview Towers Condominium carries some belongings as he leaves the building deemed unsafe, in the city of North Miami Beach, Florida, July 2, 2021. Giorgio Viera/Getty Images