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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Gainesville single-family zoning elimination faces pushback from Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

The Alachua County Commission also requested the city reconsider the ordinance

Gainesville’s unprecedented single-family zoning elimination ordinance faces its largest detractor yet: the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity.

The department sent a letter Thursday to the city that recommends Gainesville commissioners reconsider the amendment, joining Alachua County Commission’s recent letter to the city expressing similar concerns.

If put into effect, the ordinance would allow duplexes, triplexes and quadruplexes to be constructed in single-unit neighborhoods. While the legislation won its first vote 4-3, a second vote would be required before the amendment could be passed.

The department’s letter argued creating additional units would only serve the city’s renters, which primarily consists of UF students, not the majority of residents. 

“Solely increasing the amount of land available for additional density and multifamily housing does not ensure that the ever-increasing student population does not absorb the newly created rental housing,” the letter read.

Additionally, the letter said increasing population density could have an unseen effect on public services within city neighborhoods.

“The provision of public facilities such as transportation, schools, potable water, wastewater, stormwater, etc., are connected to the quantity and type of housing,” the letter read.

Adrian Hayes-Santos, the District 4 city commissioner who voted in favor of the ordinance, said the state’s suggestion was part of a larger effort to stop efforts to increase affordable housing opportunities.

“It’s disappointing, but not a surprise to see the state of Florida take a stance to try to stop the city of Gainesville from making housing more affordable,” Hayes-Santos said.

The issue has seen considerable pushback from both citizens and the Alachua County Commission, which urged the city to delay voting on the ordinance.

For vocal dissenters of the legislation, like City Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut, the letter validated her concerns with the ordinance.

“I was in the minority, but today the minority opinion prevails with Tallahassee,” Chestnut said.

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The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee will have a meeting Tuesday, but it’s still unclear as of Thursday evening when the second vote will occur.

Contact Aidan at Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Engagement Managing Editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he likes to listen to music and go kayaking.

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