Coral Gables clarifies maintenance code to include roofs

Coral Gables’ new commission moved to amend its city code to update existing provisions regarding proper maintenance of properties by specifically addressing roofs.

Currently, the code requires that floors, walls and ceilings have to be in “structurally sound, clean and sanitary condition.” But the code does not specifically mention roofs.

The city’s staff felt that this oversight needed correcting. The commission agreed, on first reading, to add the requirement that roofs in the city have to be maintained to the same standards as properties’ floors, walls and ceilings.

“This is not a change in policy for the city,” city attorney Craig Leen said. “The city will continue to enforce its zoning code, but in a way that is fair to residents. We’ve always enforced roofs related to cleanliness, but where there was a provision, it seemed to the city attorney’s office and city staff that it didn’t say roofs. We’ve had cases with tarps for a long period of time. This will give us a tool to request that the resident fix it at some point. We’re not talking about a tarp for a day or two.”

Pat Keon, newly elected to the commission, wanted clarification and also to know whether policy would be enforced at times of natural disasters, like hurricanes. Having walked past many homes while on the campaign trail, she said, she had noticed cracked tiles here and there.

“Will you cite them?” she asked.

Jane Tompkins, the city’s development services director, said, “we’re looking for more egregious conditions, roofs with tarps covering them for extended periods of time. We want to make sure they have the resources [to repair.]”

City Manager Pat Salerno said property owners would be given warnings with 30 days to make necessary repairs, and that even that period could be extended to 45 or 60 days if circumstances warrant. “In a hurricane situation, those time frames go out the window. We work with you.”

As for hurricanes, the city manager has the authority to amend the codes.

“Remember, after Andrew, and when one of the hurricanes came through, people had tarps for a long time. They couldn’t get building materials, and it had been so long they had to replace tar paper and everything else. It was a tremendous burden to the homeowner just to get a roof. I want to make sure it’s not punitive,” Keon said of the reworded code.

Tompkins noted that most of the affected properties were those in foreclosure. “We’re trying to get the attention of the responsible party.”

In other business, Commissioner Frank Quesada recommended that newly elected Commissioner Vince Lago take his place on the Green Corridor Commission, a group of city officials and residents who look at clean energy and environmental issues in Miami-Dade. Quesada felt that Lago’s background in engineering would make him a better fit for the technical position at meetings. Lago agreed, and the commission unanimously supported his acceptance.

Similarly, Keon was installed as the city’s representative in the Florida League of Cities group.

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