The tragedy of the Champlain Tower collapse in Florida has the rest of the country, and perhaps the world, scratching their heads wondering why an otherwise seemingly well-built building would all of a sudden just collapse in the middle of the night? What happened to cause the building to crumble, burying many of the owners and residents in the rubble? How do we prevent something like this from happening again if we don’t know what caused it? There are as many thoughts and ideas as to the cause but nothing concrete yet. Was it, as some people speculate, rusted-out metal rebars? Did the saltwater have anything to do with it? Could the concrete have been too thin? Was it the proper consistency? And the all-time favorite, the owners failed to have sufficient reserves? I suppose there are loads of reasons why the building could have fallen so dramatically, but that is not helping us prevent it from ever happening again. So barring a conclusive reason for the failure of the structure, we turn our attention to the things we need to improve on to catch any flaws during the construction phase of a building. This is where the local governments need to step in and stop whining.
Jan Bergemann joins us On the Commons. Jan is the founder and president of the Florida-based Cyber Citizens for Justice. Jan is always generous with his time and in-depth knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes in Florida. Today is no exception. His insider knowledge helped explain a lot of mysteries. We still have no conclusive evidence, but the Federal government is sending money and the workforce to dig a little deeper into the tragedy. Finally, our tax dollars may be doing some good instead of being wasted. Here, we hope we get some solid answers and make sure there will never be a repeat performance.
I have always felt the HOA and condo models were flawed. Not that I thought there is something sinister built into them. I don’t. I met with Byron Hanke at his home about a year before he died and know, without a doubt, that his intentions were good when he introduced his model for what we know as condo and homeowner associations. But not all good ideas and plans work out as imagined. What is often overlooked and ignored in the planning stages is the human factor. Sadly, we got a wake-up call recently when the Surfside tower collapsed in the middle of the night in Florida, killing many people. We still don’t have a final count. As I write this, the recovery efforts continue. We still don’t know what caused the collapse; there is much speculation but nothing conclusive yet. We need to know the exact cause if we hope to prevent a repeat of this horror. Grasping at straws will not help.
Julio Robaina joins us On The Commons. Julio was a much-loved, tireless legislator in Florida before he was timed out. He spent tireless hours holding open meetings across the state, meeting with homeowners and talking to hundreds of them. Julio heard the stories straight from the Homeowners about the problems, the abuses, and concerns. He brought their thoughts and ideas to the legislature, where he crafted bills based on what was needed. Julio took what the homeowners told him very seriously and listened to how they wanted to be protected. After all, he reasoned, who would know better? Not all his bills passed. His colleagues argued with him, are they second-guessing their votes now?
The question is, could the tragedy at Surfside been averted had some of his warnings been heeded? So what happens now? Julio, who I nicknamed “The Energizer Bunny” many years ago, is still working tirelessly to get legislation enacted to protect condo owners and homeowners. Julio and I worked late in the night to record this show for you. Please tune in and listen to it. Let’s make sure this never happens again, anywhere in the world.
The tragic news from Surfside Florida has the world stunned. How could such a thing happen? What caused a condo tower to collapse in the middle of the night? Mayors and local politicians are quick to go on camera and assure all that something similar could never happen in THEIR town. Why not? How can we be sure that a condominium like Champlain towers won’t just collapse in the middle of the night again? Why did the tower collapse killing so many people sleeping peacefully in their beds? What caused the building to pancake? There has been a lot of conjecture on what caused it, but so far, nothing definitive. Water intrusion, climate change, rusty rebar, and salt have been cited as possibilities. Maybe there is some truth to all of these causes, and perhaps a combination of them. But we need to know for sure, if possible. We need to know how to prevent something awful like this from happening again.
Evan McKenzie joins us On The Commons.
Evan is a law professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He studies urban politics, land use law and policy, and common interest housing developments, including condominiums, HOAs, and housing cooperatives. He is the author of several books and articles about common interest housing, he is the media’s go-to guy for comments on any housing issue that grabs the headlines. I am honored to have him On The Commons again. Who better to share his thoughts and ideas for the collapse of and how to prevent something like this from happening again? There are preventive steps that can and must be taken to ensure there are no repeat performances. Tune in and listen to what Evan has to say. As always, his ideas are full of common sense and easy to follow and understand. You won’t want to miss it.