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Monday, August 08, 2022
Graphic of various voting and amendments drawings

Local amendments on the ballot propose changes that could affect policy at the local level.

Six proposed amendments are to the Alachua County charter, and four amendments for the City of Gainesville charter. 

Establish a Growth Management Zone

The Establish a Growth Management Zone amendment would establish areas the county wants to preserve for the environment, said Mark Sexton, the communications and legislative affairs director for Alachua County. 

On the proposed zone map, the grey indicates zones that are already incorporated into cities while the green indicates the proposed growth management zone. If cities want to expand into the green zone, they would have to follow strict county environmental ordinances. The area would not constrain Alachua County municipalities, Sexton said. He said it would likely take cities decades to expand to the point where the county protects the area.

Municipal and County Relationship for Protection of Natural Resources

The Municipal and County Relationship for Protection of Natural Resources amendment would establish a relationship between cities and the county in terms of natural resources and the environment.

This would apply to the cities of Gainesville, Alachua, Newberry, Archer, High Springs, Lacrosse, Waldo, Hawthorne and Micanopy. If passed, cities could pass ordinances that are stricter, but not more lenient, than Alachua County’s environmental ordinances. 

Identification and Elimination of Racial and Gender Bias in Alachua County Policies

TheIdentification and Elimination of Racial and Gender Bias in Alachua County Policies amendment asks voters if they want the county’s board of commissioners to annually explore ways to eliminate racial and gender bias in county programs and services. 

This would create an annual commission review of county policies and programs, Sexton said. The review would encompass things such as new ordinances, the sheriff’s office and the supervisor of elections office among other county programs. 

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Establishing Alachua County Affordable Housing Trust Fund

The Establishing Alachua County Affordable Housing Trust Fund amendment proposes the creation of a county trust fund for affordable housing. 

If the amendment passed, it would not mean the county is budgeting for affordable housing, Sexton said. It creates a framework for the county to raise funds if it ever wanted to start funding for affordable housing. 

Sexton said Alachua County offers limited housing assistance, like down payment assistance and rental assistance in conjunction with coronavirus relief from the federal government.

Candidate Treasurer Report Requirements

The Candidate Treasurer Report Requirements amendment proposes removing any requirement to turn in these treasury reports filings by paper. Currently, candidates have to file these reports electronically and by paper. 

Removing Unconstitutional Provisions 

The Removing Unconstitutional Provisions amendment proposes removing unconstitutional provisions from previous amendments.

One provision the amendment seeks to remove imposes unconstitutional residency requirements for Alachua County Commission candidates. Currently, candidates must move to the area they are running in as soon as they begin campaigning. This amendment would allow candidates who are running to stay where they currently reside, even if they don’t live in the region they are running in, until they are elected.

The amendment also proposes removing a provision which prohibits protections based on sexual orientation, preference or similar characteristics. In 1993, the county commission passed an ordinance that added these protections, but a citizens initiative countered it, and got enough signatures to remove these protections. A few months later, a judge struck it down as a  violation of the 14th amendment, but the harmful language was never removed 

The county measures get voted on by everyone in the county, however, city amendments are only on the ballot for voters within the city of Gainesville municipal boundaries. 

Changing the name of the Charter Officer

The Changing the name of the Charter Officer amendment proposes changing the name of the Charter officer from “Clerk of the Commission” to “City Clerk”. Shelby Taylor, the communications director for the office of communications and engagement for the city of Gainesville, said this amendment really has no impact beyond reflecting the professional status of the position. 

Eliminating Restrictions on Construction of Paved Surfaces on City-Owned Land

The Eliminating Restrictions on Construction of Paved Surfaces on City-Owned Land amendment is to tear back some of the more restrictive funding designations that require only certain funds be used to pay for paved surfaces on city-owned land. 

Mark Sexton said there are some misconceptions that this project will lower property values or make places more dangerous. But, data shows the opposite, he said, and people become more cognizant of these areas when utilized. 

Limiting Commission Authority to Dispose of Certain Utility Systems

The Limiting Commission Authority to Dispose of Certain Utility Systems amendment on the ballot restricts the county commission from selling utility systems without voter approval. Taylor said electric services are currently protected from sale, but other utilities are not.

Creating a Preamble to the Charter 

The Creating a Preamble to the Charter amendment would add a preamble to the city charter that would explain why the document is important and the city’s values. Taylor said most charters have a preamble, and passing this amendment is more for consistency to be more similar to other charters.

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Anna Wilder

Anna Wilder is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter. She's from Melbourne, Florida, and she enjoys being outdoors or playing the viola when she's not writing. 

Steven Walker

Steven Walker is the Fall 2021 Editor in Chief of The Alligator. He has previously worked at the Orlando Sentinel; and has bylines in the Miami Herald, Associated Press and Florida Times Union. In his free time, he likes to take long walks with his dog Luna and watch his favorite sports teams, the Orlando Magic and the Green Bay Packers.

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