Florida League of Cities

Natural Emergencies (Monitor) – Passed 

CS/CS/SB 250 (Martin) makes various changes to existing Florida law regarding the preparation and response activities of state and local government to natural emergencies. Specifically, the bill provides that following a declared natural emergency as defined in section 252.34(8), a county or municipality may not prohibit the placement of a temporary shelter (including but not limited to a recreational vehicle, a trailer or similar structure on a residential property) for up to 36 months or until a certificate of occupancy is issued on the permanent residential structure, on the property, whichever occurs first, if certain conditions are met including:

•The resident makes a good faith effort to rebuild or renovate the damaged property, such as applying for a building permit, submitting a plan or design to the county or municipality, or applying for a construction loan;

•The temporary shelter is connected to water and electric utilities and does not present a danger to health or human safety; and

•The resident lives in the temporary shelter. 

The bill requires the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to post on its website a model debris removal contract for the benefit of local governments (this provision is effective upon becoming law). In addition, the bill requires DEM to prioritize technical assistance and training to fiscally constrained counties on aspects of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation (also effective upon becoming law). The bill encourages local governments to create emergency financial plans in preparation for major natural disasters. The bill also authorizes local governments to create specialized building inspection teams following a natural disaster and encourages interlocal agreements for additional building inspection services during a state of emergency. Local governments are required to expedite the issuance of building permits following a natural disaster. The bill increases the extension of certain building permits following a declaration of a state of emergency from six to 24 months and caps such extension at 48 months in the event of multiple natural emergencies. Effective upon becoming law, the bill prohibits counties and municipalities within the disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole from increasing building fees until October 1, 2024.

Effective upon becoming law, registered contractors can engage in contracting for the types of work covered by their registration within areas for which a state of emergency has been declared. The bill prohibits counties and municipalities within 100 miles of Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole's landfall from adopting more restrictive or burdensome procedures to their comprehensive plans or land development regulations concerning review, approval or issuance of a site plan, development permit or development order before October 1, 2024. Furthermore, such counties and municipalities may not propose or adopt a moratorium on construction, reconstruction or redevelopment of any property damaged by Hurricane Ian or Nicole. The bill also extends the date for fire control districts within 50 miles of Hurricane Ian’s landfall to submit statutorily required performance reviews. The amends the Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act to allow for additional disaster-related construction projects relating to Hurricane Ian to utilize the “continuing contracts” provision through December 31, 2023. The bill makes the Local Government Emergency Bridge Loan Program a revolving program and makes funds available for local governments impacted by federally declared disasters until July 1, 2038, appropriates $50 million in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the program for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, and authorizes $50 million of funds appropriated in special session to a previous version of the program to be transferred and used for this program. The bill clarifies the 45-day grace period following a hurricane in which owners must bring a derelict vessel into compliance before being charged with a violation. The bill directs DEM to administer a revolving loan program for local government hazard mitigation projects and appropriates $1 million in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue Fund and $10 million in nonrecurring funds from the Federal Grants Trust Fund for such activity during the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Finally, the bill shields public utilities from liability for damages arising from changes in reliability, continuity or quality of services stemming from an emergency or disaster.

Effective date: July 1, 2023, except as otherwise provided. (Branch)