Google Ads help pay the expense of maintaining this site

Click Here for the Neighborhood Transformation Website

Fair Use Disclaimer

Neighborhood Transformation is a nonprofit, noncommercial website that, at times, may contain copyrighted material that have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It makes such material available in its efforts to advance the understanding of poverty and low income distressed neighborhoods in hopes of helping to find solutions for those problems. It believes that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Persons wishing to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of their own that go beyond 'fair use' must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.
March 3, 2001 - Miami Herald


By Karl Ross

After fierce lobbying by the building industry, Miami-Dade officials revising the county's building code have penned in a provision in a draft ordinance that would allow developers to certify their own plans and inspect newly built homes.

The previous draft of the ordinance, the linchpin of Mayor Alex Penelas' controversial plans to streamline the construction process, limited the use of private plan examiners and inspectors to commercial and industrial projects.

That earlier draft was roundly criticized at a Feb. 14 meeting between industry leaders and county staffers for failing to include residential projects. The revised ordinance, released this week, would allow private certification and inspection of residential jobs 180 days after the new rules go into effect.

That means developers could pull permits and certificates of occupancy on homes in new subdivisions without calling in county inspectors for review.

Pedro Hern ndez, senior assistant to the county manager, acknowledged that industry outcry influenced the revisions in the draft ordinance.

``Definitely it is a factor,'' Hern ndez said. ``But it is something we were considering before, rather than do it in an amendment to the ordinance and phase it in at a later date. I prefer this way.''

And so do industry leaders, who voted to reject the initial draft ordinance at the Feb. 14 meeting of the Development Process Advisory Committee, or DPAC, a construction industry forum that reports to the mayor's office. Critics of the mayor's proposal argue that the industry cannot be trusted to police itself.

Industry watchdogs such as Ed Ashley, an expert witness and permit consultant, said the mayor's proposal mirrors temporary measures relaxing construction oversight to speed recovery after Hurricane Andrew.

``In general, it was a fiasco,'' Ashley said. ``It was not done to code, and people are paying for it today. They're talking about going back to the same system after Hurricane Andrew that didn't work.''

Ashley said more than 180,000 permits pulled after Andrew remain open because construction was never brought into compliance under private oversight.

Officials caution that this latest draft ordinance -- which must be approved by the County Commission and endorsed by the mayor -- is ``a work in progress.'' They say there's considerable tweaking to do before the ordinance is formally presented to industry leaders at the mayor's Building Together Summit, slated for March 14. That could include putting county building inspectors back into the process -- at least during the periodic inspections carried out during residential construction.

``My thinking is that the person's refuge, which is the home, should have a high degree of inspection,'' Hern ndez said.

Hern ndez said Charlie Mart¡nez, president of the Latin Builders Association, told him that he favored the continued involvement of county inspectors. Mart¡nez could not be reached for comment. Other changes in the second draft ordinance, prepared by Assistant County Attorney Hugo Ben¡tez, are likely to prove less controversial.

The latest draft makes it clear that private architects and engineers hired by builders are responsible for only certifying a project's compliance with construction codes. The previous draft called on them to certify compliance with other parts of the code -- including environmental, fire safety and zoning provisions. The revision also tightens the enforcement powers of building officials, imposing a ``three strikes rule'' allowing officials to disqualify a private inspector or plans examiner after three violations of the new provisions.