SAVING MONEY OR SAVING LIVES?
Published April 12, 2019
Eric said it on Monday already: Are these bills, aimed at
postponing the sprinkler-retrofitting requirement once again,
just “Another Attempt To Put Money Ahead Of Safety?”
It sure looks that way!
Let’s make sure that everybody understands the history of this
It all started in Tallahassee in 2004 – fifteen (15) years ago.
When the bill requiring sprinkler-retrofitting in hi-rises was
first enacted the legislators gave condominium association ample
time to save the money to pay for this – admittedly – expensive
project without having to levy special assessments.
But instead of creating reserve funds many association boards
plainly ignored the new law or even paid lobbyists [like former
Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff from the Becker (former & Poliakoff)
law firm] to fight this requirement, instead of saving money to
pay for the now by law required sprinkler-system.
Yes, I absolutely understand that many condo-owners “cry”
about a possible special assessment that might create serious
financial hardship, but they should not blame the legislators,
they should blame the association boards they elected. They
dropped the ball and created the serious problems many
condo-owners are facing now if the postponement bills don’t
But just postponing the date for sprinkler-retrofitting will not
really make a difference as long as the postponement bill will
not carry a requirement to create a reserve-fund to pay for the
retrofitting at a later date – a date to be determined.
Over the years, nearly annually, we have seen bills in
Tallahassee trying to extent the dead-line, some more successful
than others. Governor Rick Scott actually vetoed a bill that
would have allowed the dead-line to be extended.
will not do the trick, because we can be sure that the same
people are “crying” again in a few years’ time.
The only way to really put an end to this discussion would be by
adding the mandatory requirement of creating reserve funds for
this purpose to the bill, a reserve fund big enough to pay for
the cost of sprinkler-retrofitting at the end of the dead-line.
know my opinion isn’t popular, but let’s face it: The “crying”
will be even bigger if a few elderly condo owners, who couldn’t
run fast enough, die in a fire, elderly condo owners who could
have been saved if the hi-rise would have been equipped with a
sprinkler-system – and the expensive lawsuits are flying!
||Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice,
's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group.
CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in
associations. He moved to
in 1995 - hoping to retire. He moved into a HOA, where the
developer cheated the homeowners and used the association dues
for his own purposes. End of retirement!
CCFJ was born in the year 2000, when some owners met in
- finding out that power is only in numbers. Bergemann was a
member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task force in 2003/2004.
The organization has two websites to inform interested
homeowners and condo owners:
News Website: http://www.ccfj.net/.
Educational Website: http://www.ccfjfoundation.net/.
We think that only owners can really represent owners, since all
service providers surely have a different interest! We are
trying to create owner-friendly laws, but the best laws are
useless without enforcement. And enforcement is totally lacking