Gov. DeSantis Signs Legislation Easing Coastal Building Demolitions

In recent developments, Governor Ron DeSantis has discreetly signed a bill that is set to ease the process for developers looking to replace coastal and sometimes historic buildings with larger structures, as long as local zoning permits. This move is a significant shift in policy and could have far-reaching consequences for Florida’s coastal communities.

Understanding the New Legislation

The bill, known as the “Resiliency and Safe Structures Act” or SB 1526, restricts local governments from preventing 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 or deemed unsafe by a local official or ordered to be torn down by a local government that has jurisdiction over the property.

Following the demolition, property owners can then construct new buildings on the site, which can be as large as the area’s zoning allows. However, certain buildings are exempt from this rule, including single-family homes, structures on the National Register of Historic Places, and certain buildings within a barrier island or municipality with a population less than 10,000 residents.

The Rationale Behind the Legislation

The legislation, which passed 36-2 in the Senate and 86-29 in the House, was introduced by Sen. Bryan Ávila and Rep. Spencer Roach, both Republicans. The legislators argue that the aim is to prevent another tragedy like the Surfside condo collapse by giving property owners more freedom from the decisions of local historic preservation boards and the city governments that oversee them.

Critics argue that this could lead to unchecked development on Florida’s coastlines and potentially jeopardize historic structures. However, supporters counter that the legislation is a necessary step towards ensuring the safety of the state’s coastal residents and visitors.

The Potential Implications

The potential implications of this new law are vast, and it has been met with both praise and criticism. Those in favor argue that it will stimulate economic activity and help to modernize aging infrastructure. On the other hand, opponents warn of the potential loss of historic buildings and the potential for overdevelopment in coastal areas.

It’s too early to predict the exact impact this law will have. However, it is a clear signal that Florida is taking steps to balance the preservation of its history with the need for modern, safe infrastructure.

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