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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Gainesville City Commission discussed plans to increase the amount of affordable, low-cost city housing during a Monday workshop focused on the city's plans and budget for the 2009 fiscal year.

Commissioner Jack Donovan said less than 10 percent of Gainesville's residences are considered "affordable housing."

Donovan said taxes collected from developers can be put to use by creating incentives for building affordable housing.

"For the private sector, profit is the bottom line," he said.

Commissioners also discussed trying to get businesses, including apartment complexes, to increase recycling.

"I feel like our apartment complexes underuse their recycling resources," Commissioner Lauren Poe said.

The idea of the city providing vegetable waste composts was also discussed, although Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said it is a trade-off because of the vermin it attracts.

In addition to discussing upcoming plans, the workshop gave new commissioners the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Commissioner Thomas Hawkins said that ideal development in Gainesville would be "pedestrian oriented" with a large number of two-lane streets and intersections in a grid system.

Hawkins referred to downtown Gainesville, east of 13th Street, as an ideal model for what the city should look like.

He then contrasted downtown Gainesville with the area around Butler Plaza, which has only three roads surrounding it and large parking lots.

Poe presented after Hawkins and emphasized eco-friendly projects that would reduce energy consumption.

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He listed transportation as a big energy consumer and suggested more efficient bus routes, including long-anticipated improvements to the RTS system.

Commissioner Craig Lowe agreed with Poe, suggesting that RTS move toward a grid-like system.

"We need to work toward making RTS more efficient for the user," Lowe said.

Many of the commissioners agreed that some of the bus routes are long and needlessly meandering and said making those routes more efficient would be an important project to work on over the next year.

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