By staff writer
The Commercial Real Estate Development Association’s (NAIOP) South Florida chapter is making the Fast Act a legislative priority for 2019 — and its efforts are gaining steam in Tallahassee, according to supporters. The Fast Act, or Florida House Bill 1139, aims to provide relief to commercial real estate owners and developers who face long delays in getting the construction permits they need to start construction.
Industry leaders fired off another wave of letters supporting the Fast Act, which successfully passed its first senate committee on April 9. The legislation drafted by NAIOP’s lobbying team has already cleared two house committees.
Supporters of the Fast Act and HB 1139 argue the solidification of permitting timelines in the bill as well as the creation of a separate, expedited process would greatly assist in construction by incentivizing local municipalities to meet pertinent deadlines.
NAIOP South Florida president Darcie Lunsford said the delays in permitting are “deal killers and a major drag on local businesses and our economy.” She indicated the onerous process is so bad sometimes that “it can take longer to get the permit than to build out a new office space.”
Current Florida law mandates decisions over construction permits in 120 days. However, there are no consequences if a local jurisdiction does not adhere to that timeline. As a result, the permitting process can become exceedingly lengthy, sometimes taking more than a year. Owners and developers who require inspections often also have a difficult time scheduling the right personnel.
If passed, the Fast Act would institute certain rules to speed up the permitting process. Local governments would be required to establish an expedited processing system that would carry a charge of no more than double the current rate. In addition, local governments that do not meet a hard permit deadline would see the permit fee reduced by 10 percent per ten business days of delay. If the delay is long enough to where the fee gets reduced by more than 50 percent before the permit is approved, the local government must refund all fees to the applicant.
Supporters of the Fast Act argue local governments could boost their revenues by utilizing an expedited permitting process that would give exposure to more owners and developers. As HB 1139 has made its way through Florida’s legislative process, leaders across NAIOP’s South Florida chapter have corresponded closely with local lawmakers to urge their support and passage of the legislation.
Lunsford hopes the bill “continues to gain momentum” so that it can soon provide needed relief to owners, developers and tenants “who need to get into spaces in a more timely fashion.”
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