After a year of killer tornadoes in Iowa, legislators are considering a bill that would require that newly constructed apartment buildings, hotels and dorms in Iowa have some sort of shelter from severe storms. But the construction industry objects.
Craig Schoenfeld, a lobbyist for the Home Builders Association of Iowa, says prices for new condos would go up as much as 12 percent and perhaps out of reach for first-time buyers. "Suddenly a $110,000 townhome that may be perfect for a new home buyer is suddenly $130,000 (or) $135,000," Schoenfeld says. "Is that buyer no longer in the marketplace?"
Lawmakers are concerned the mandate would increase the rent on apartments, too. But emergency responders complain the bill doesn’t go far enough.
Chad Russell is a lobbyist for the Iowa Emergency Management Association. "Why are we affording extra protection to structures that are very sound when we’re not putting into consideration structures such as mobile homes where there’s a lot more vulnerability?" Russell asks.
Last year, Iowa legislators balked at the idea of requiring storm shelters in mobile home parks. In addition to this year’s bill which would require storm shelters in new apartment buildings, dorms and hotels, another bill would require shelters in all public buildings. Neither bill has made it through committee yet, a first step in the legislative process.