Press release from 1000 Friends of Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – 1000 Friends of Florida has raised a series of significant concerns about the City of Gainesville’s proposal to amend its comprehensive plan and land development regulations to allow density increases in all single-family neighborhoods. “We applaud Gainesville for its efforts to address affordable housing,” says 1000 Friends Policy and Planning Director Jane West, “but we believe there are major flaws in the proposal as drafted.”
The amendments are up for consideration at the City Commission’s Thursday, August 4 meeting. In a July 13 letter to Gainesville’s Mayor and Commissioners, West explains that the City’s proposal lacks the data and analysis required under Florida’s comprehensive planning process. Proposed density increases should mesh with the best available population projections. Additionally, the analysis should identify “how the proposed changes will impact existing neighborhoods” and be “tailored to different city neighborhoods based on their inherent character,” including lot sizes, setbacks, densities, infrastructure, and more.
West raises the concern that the sweeping recommendations could lead to gentrification of existing lower-income neighborhoods, causing displacement and thus undermining the overall goal of increasing the supply of affordable housing. “This one-size-fits-all zoning has the strong potential to fast-track gentrification,” notes West, “which will further exacerbate existing equity issues.”
Further, Florida’s local governments must take special care with sweeping changes of this nature. Due to the passage of the Bert Harris Private Property Rights Act in 1995, should the amendments have unintended consequences, the City could be faced with costly lawsuits and payments to property owners should it try to “down-zone” properties back to today’s zoning.
1000 Friends of Florida is the state’s leading nonprofit smart-growth advocacy organization. Since our inception in 1986, 1000 Friends has been a strong advocate for affordable housing. In 1991 we led the effort to establish the Sadowski Coalition, which successfully pushed for the creation of Florida’s Sadowski Trust Fund, the state’s fund for affordable housing.
We continue to advocate for affordable housing and recognize that land-use reform is a major part of the solution. However, sweeping “one-size-fits-all” proposals of this nature run counter to the principles of sound planning. Explains West, “1000 Friends supports a more nuanced approach, based on sound data and analysis, to address affordable housing and other issues facing Florida’s communities.” In addition, we continue to support the restoration of meaningful state review of local comprehensive plan amendment proposals to ensure they comply with state law.