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Citizens express frustration at City Plan Board meeting

Kali Blount speaks to the City of Gainesville Plan Board on June 23

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The June 23 City of Gainesville Plan Board meeting continued a recent theme of frustration by citizens who object to changes in land use and zoning that have been proposed by the City Commission but continue to see the votes go against them.

The meeting began with general public comment, and Robert Mounts led off by saying, “It’s pretty clear that the [City] Commission is not listening; not listening to the Plan Board recommendation that there be a separate category of Neighborhood Residential zoning but targeted in areas of the city where it’s appropriate—or listening, for that matter, to the African American members on the Commission, who both said they were going to vote no on this proposal.” Mounts also noted that nearly everyone at the June 21 City Commission meeting was against the proposals except for a “handful” of property managers who spoke in favor of removing occupancy limits in single-family homes. A summary of that meeting can be found here

“Everyone who is involved, except for four commissioners—virtually everyone—believes this is a bad path to go on.” – Kim Tanzer

Kim Tanzer added, “Unfortunately, it seems that the City Commission was not presented your votes or your recommendations, and certainly chose not to reinforce them through their actions.” Tanzer gently implied that the Plan Board should consider resigning “if you’re not going to be listened to.” She asked the Board to vote against all the items they would be considering that evening “because the goal is obviously to just drive as many people into the area near the university as possible. Statistics and data are unreconcilable, let’s say, in terms of what’s needed, what’s known; and everyone who is involved, except for four commissioners—virtually everyone—believes this is a bad path to go on.”

Kali Blount said, “You do not explain the housing pattern that we have… without looking at bias, racial steering, redlining, and discrimination… There are ways to regulate… against the bad effects that you’re fearing… We must achieve mixed-income housing wherever possible. That means infill in prosperous neighborhoods with workforce housing and infill in at-risk neighborhoods, in economically-precarious neighborhoods, with market-rate housing.”

“We could end up changing the whole character and wiping out historical neighborhoods and the history of a people who were here… It seems that the area that is being targeted are areas where people of color live… They seem to be the ones that always get the short end of the stick.” – Non-Voting Member Tina Certain

School Board Member Tina Certain, who is a non-voting member of the Plan Board, was concerned about people being displaced for new developments: “Who is the inventory for? The inventory is not for the existing residents or those who are even displaced… Changes in our community are being made, and some are good changes, and some, I think, are not so good, and I think that we’re… kowtowing to the benefit of the University of Florida and their population… I think we should listen to… the concerns and not be dismissive of those residents that are around it… We could end up changing the whole character and wiping out historical neighborhoods and the history of a people who were here… It seems that the area that is being targeted are areas where people of color live… They seem to be the ones that always get the short end of the stick.”

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Neighborhood Scale Multi-Family Land Use

The board then took up a re-hearing of a petition on the proposed Neighborhood Scale Multi-Family land use. City Planner Juan Castillo brought back changes that had been requested in the previous Plan Board meeting, including adding a requirement that units be a maximum of two stories with a maximum of two primary entrances and some requirements for windows and characteristics of the facades. The units can have a maximum of two off-street parking spaces in front, with more permitted in the rear, and at least one high-quality tree is required. The front facade must face a street, with an entrance on the first floor. The Plan Board requested requirements for the side facades, but staff had several concerns with that and did not add those requirements. 

During public comment on the item, Melanie Barr pointed out that there could be 12 or more cars associated with such a building: “Everything’s going to be paved. What happened to our green city, our tree city?… I feel like this is the wrong thing, especially for a single-family neighborhood—too big a building and no parking and no way to even get to the back because the setbacks are five feet.”

Mounts said, “We’re not talking about families living there. We know that… Why didn’t the staff brief the City Commission on the Plan Board’s recommendations to date? Or did they give them a paper on the side that the public didn’t see?… I didn’t hear it.” He was particularly interested in whether the City Commission was informed about the Plan Board’s recommendation to add a new Neighborhood Residential Future Land Use but only apply that designation to parcels that went through the Special Use Permit process (i.e., not apply the land use by default to any parcels).

Tana Silva said she had the same concern: “I was concerned about that second recommendation of not mapping it… I don’t remember that that was presented to the City Commission during the workshop on Tuesday.”

In response, Castillo said that one of the agenda items at the workshop was to bring back the comments from the Plan Board, and there was backup with those comments. However, his statement was not accurate; the agenda item about bringing back feedback was titled, “Affordable Housing Workshop on Inclusionary and Exclusionary Zoning Meeting Summary,” and the backup included four items: a summary of the June 1 workshop, two presentations given at the June 1 workshop, and a flyer for the June 1 workshop. None of the backup material referenced anything from the June 6 Plan Board meeting. Castillo added, “I did not feel the need to bring staff forward to provide a presentation… but the commission was made aware of your comments, and they have the backup.”

However, Andrew Persons, Director of the Department of Sustainable Development, pointed out that the Plan Board recommendation was in the body of the first agenda item; the recommendation was never discussed verbally at the meeting. That part of the June 21 agenda is shown here:

During board discussion of the proposal, Member Bob Ackerman clarified that none of the proposals affect historic districts.

“I don’t know, at this point, what our vote is going to do to change their minds… It seemed like the whole workshop happened, and there was not even two minutes of discussion about the idea of potentially creating this as its own zoning district, as we had spent hours discussing a couple weeks ago.” – Acting Chair Sophia Corugedo

Acting Chair Sophia Corugedo said she was concerned that “the commissioners, at least a couple, are definitely completely unaware of the recommendations we made last time, so it makes me feel like we’re making recommendations, but it wasn’t discussed last time… I don’t know, at this point, what our vote is going to do to change their minds, if you just watched their meeting for one hour on Tuesday… It seemed like the whole workshop happened, and there was not even two minutes of discussion about the idea of potentially creating this as its own zoning district, as we had spent hours discussing a couple weeks ago.” 

Member Thomas Hawkins wanted to make “a motion that passes,” and Member Joshua Ney said that the commission would “do what they want, so we should just vote on it and go.” Ney made a motion to approve the petition with staff recommendations. Ackerman seconded the motion.

Hawkins proposed specifying that buildings between 3 and 4 units have those units within the exterior walls, limiting developments to no more than one driveway, and specifying that the regulations apply to street-facing facades. Ney and Ackerman accepted the modifications. The motion was approved 3-1, with Corugedo in dissent.

Deleting the 10-acre minimum parcel size requirement for rezoning to Transect

The next item was a request to delete the 10-acre minimum parcel size requirement (if the parcel is not adjacent to a Transect Zone) to file an application for rezoning to Transect. The item was previously approved by the Plan Board on March 25, 2021, then brought to the City Commission on November 18, 2021. The commission voted to hold a special meeting on the subject, and that was held on February 22, 2022, where the proposal was approved, 4-3. However, the City Commission voted 2-5 against passing the ordinance on second reading on March 3, with direction to refer the item back to the Plan Board with more public outreach.

During public comment on the item, Mounts said the proposal is “spot zoning, pure and simple.” He said the meeting didn’t qualify as public engagement because not even the people who pay attention to Plan Board meetings, like him, knew this was coming back at this meeting. “Don’t do it. Thank you.”

Silva said the proposal doesn’t help focus development where it is most appropriate, and “there’s been zero public outreach” on the proposal. “This defies reason, that there would be Transect zones disconnected from others… It’s another big step that needs more careful attention.”

Another member of the public pointed out that the backup for the item was a 228-page document.

Ackerman made a motion to approve the petition, and Ney seconded the motion. The motion passed, 3-1, with Corugedo in dissent.

Increasing or removing the bedroom limit within the UF Context Zone

The board then considered amending the bedroom limit within the University of Florida Context Zone. Currently multi-family developments in the Context Area are allowed 2.75x the maximum number of bedrooms based on the development’s maximum residential density; the proposal would either change the multiplier to 3x or remove the limit altogether. The idea behind increasing the multiplier would be to provide more housing opportunities for students.

Hawkins said he was a “hard no” on the proposal because it could turn any multi-family development into a single-room-occupancy development. Persons told the board that the multiplier has been in place since 2017, and they’ve seen a “more reasonable mix” of bedrooms per unit since then; he wasn’t sure whether that was due to the bedroom limit or to market demands. Ackerman and Corugedo said they could be persuaded to change it to 3 but not to remove it entirely. 

During public comment, Mounts said that with the removal of the limit on unrelated people living in a single-family home (as recommended in the Plan Board’s June 6 meeting), the bedroom limit “is the only limit there is.” 

In her comments, Silva pointed out that the population growth numbers cited by a commissioner at the June 21 City Commission meeting were incorrect; the commissioner said we have 6,000 more people in Gainesville in the past year, but “they’re using figures from the metropolitan statistical area, which is Alachua and Gilchrist counties; they’re not sticking with current, very precise data about the city. So that should alleviate some of the hype” about the need to build more housing to keep up with population growth.

Ackerman made a motion to leave the multiplier at 2.75x, and Hawkins seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-1, with Ney in dissent.

Removing compatibility standards

The next item involved removing some compatibility standards that can make building more expensive, including reducing the minimum setbacks in some cases and removing a requirement for a masonry wall between a single-family development and a multi-family development. 

Hawkins said the staff recommendation made sense for a city-wide Neighborhood Residential designation in current single-family areas, but since the board voted to only apply that designation on a parcel-by-parcel basis, he proposed making the change to all of the residential categories that would be in the Comprehensive Plan if the City Commission adopts their recommendation. He also wanted to ensure that all units must be in the same building.

Hawkins made a motion to approve the petition but change every reference to “Neighborhood Residential Zoning District” to “Single Family, Residential Low-Density, or Neighborhood Residential Future Land Use designation” and to add “within exterior walls” to the limitation of no more than six dwelling units per building. The motion passed unanimously.

Splitting lots

The last item made some changes to clarify the conditions under which lots may be split. Hawkins made a motion to adopt the changes, and Ackerman seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 

The next City Plan Board meeting is scheduled for July 28.

  • Sit down and shut up! Next!
    Sit down and shut up! Next!
    We’ll think about it. Thought’s over…sit down.

    Who wants to silence your voices?

  • Typical Gainesville. Although most of those Commissioners, and the DEC who backs them, claim to be sooooo supportive of minorities, they have created a mind perpetuate the largest racial divide in the state! East side of poor and color and west side of affluent whites (where the mayor land most DEC live). Hypocritical liars, the whole bunch! Lauren BLM Poe the chief architect of treatment of blacks as second class citizens. A few of the others like Shotgun Ward and Montreal Hyphen-Hays are just ignorant followers chasing DEC support and visits from Andruw Gillum to whip up support.

  • How blatantly obvious is it that this board has no regard for the citizens, planning boards, lawyers, etc. that advise them against actions? They clearly do not listen and have a mantra of “I do what I want” without thinking of anyone else. First the blanket neighborhood zoning, then increasing and/or getting rid of maximum bedrooms allowed near UF. Do they realize all of this falls on homeowner taxes? Yes, if you build it they will come, deplete it for the natives and charge the natives for it. Listen to the people at least. There are other solutions. There are compromises. This commission is driving long time Gainesville locals to move outside of the city limits because they can no longer afford to pay for these grandiose ideas that don’t make sense. Put a flat tax in place across the city. Make the students, renters, everyone contribute to this community. And listen to the people, the people that elected you and the people paid to give you advice.

      • I am probably going to regret this but…I don’t understand what you are saying. I honestly don’t understand what most of your posts mean.

  • Does this mean I can keep my homestead exemption and will be able to turn my single family
    House that I lived in for 40 years that’s just a few blocks from UF into a 6 unit
    Apartment building and avoid the city’s tyrannical landlord ordinance and be regulated by the state
    Since it’s more than 4 units? Thanks little Tommy Hawkins! I’ll be able to keep an apartment for me
    As my office , get the “save our homes” property tax increase cap, and make an extra $60,000/year in
    Income renting efficiency units to UF students and
    Add to the already impossible parking situation near
    UF! Yeah city commissioners, I’m in! Make me rich,
    Destroy the beautiful tree canopy, let me regulated by
    The state with 5 or more units and avoid your landlord
    Ordinance that regulates up to 4 units, & I will rent my
    Rooms for $1000/mo and I will bring in $72,000/yr or more
    In rental income from UF students for little efficiency units. The people who work at McDonald’s or burger
    King make $15/hr now and can afford it…I love the
    Idea that there’s no rent control so we can price the
    Poor people from living in my units! What a way to
    Retire and make a nice retirement income for me…
    Thanks city commissioners, all my stuff will be unaffordable housing with rents of $1000 or more
    Per room and make me a rich landlord.

    • I want to put 6 entrances and 6 electric meters and
      6 waters meters…that’s 666, got it? And I don’t want
      Any street parking requirements whatsoever because
      We are green and don’t need cars…we’ll only be walking or taking public transportation, so that’s a plus!

      • Yeah, no parking requirements on the property because we hate cars and our units will be “sustainable” green efficiency units…any kind of
        Parking can be street parking in front of the property
        That only the people who live at the property can
        Park at so they can have ingress & egress.

        • So how does this help working people & people of color get affordable housing again? Should there be a
          Requirement that there’s rent control and only
          Section 8 people can apply? That these extra units will only be available to house the homeless
          From Grace marketplace? Should we only do
          This on the east side of town because that’s where they need economic development?

          • None of this helps working class people and/or POC afford housing. Buying or otherwise. Because the taxes will be too high. It will keep them within government housing with no options to get out, then the commission will not understand why someone can’t just decide to rise above their surroundings. Maybe because you’ve locked them into a vicious, endless cycle and made it impossible for people from underprivileged areas to become homeowners. Writing this sounds very counterintuitive to what the commission preaches but realistically, here it is in black and white – everything they do, say and promise is a lie, wrong and shady. I really wish the Governor or some oversite committee would come in and audit the commission from the top down. It is a mess.

  • This is something that the Biden administration is
    Pushing to help house the homeless and provide more
    Affordable housing? That’s where these marching orders
    Are coming from?

    • Great reset: they want to end homelessness, etc. Do your research. Now put your mask on and take your shot!

      • Yeah…before long, “you’ll own nothing and be happy”…destruction of private property rights…in the future, we’ll all be renters living in a sustainable village.

        • The automatic green-energy car will arrive every morning to take you to work. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Please make sure to always say correct thoughts or the car might take you to a different destination.

  • According to research done by MoveBuddah.com, out of a list of 20 Florida cities NO ONE is moving to Gainesville. It wasn’t that long ago Gainesville was ranked the #1 city to move to. But now according to the latest data from moveBuddha, Ocala is the Florida city most popular to move to. Out of 20 cities and No one is moving to Gainesville?? They are choosing Avon Park over Gainesville. How ever can that be?? Maybe it’s Trump’s fault–like everything else is.

    • You’re right MD. Nobody with a brain is going to flee overtaxed, bankrupt, chronically mismanaged cities with long running homeless and crime problems in the Northeast to move into *exactly* the same thing in Gainesville.

  • A$%%%SS Clown Biomess Poe must have broader political ambitions in mind to continually disrupt and bankrupt Gainesville , Gru and his captive tax slaves. You can tell he makes decisions like Let Go Brandon. Maybe DC, Chicago , Portland ,San Francisco would be a great place to relocate. Gainesville cannot afford him,

  • I guess we’ll see come election time the degree of stupidity that exists in Gainesville. People have seen the signs of those commissioners seeking to maintain their power and control over their lives, their properties and their utilities. Are they intelligent enough to remember the signs of current control or still dumb enough to continue believing them?

    We’ll see if you want your voice to be heard or continue to be silenced by the likes of Ward, Arreola, Poe, Saco and Santos.

  • Gainesville commissioners are getting their liberal proposals and ideas from San Francisco. Google “San Francisco is ending single-family zoning.” Published in San Francisco Chronicle.

    Keep voting for our local idiots and you won’t have to go to San Francisco to wipe the $h!t off your shoes.

    It’s past time to clean the stench from City Hall. Get rid of Poe and Co.

    • GlobalMarchingOrders TryingDeathCultHarder WithCorporatePassionOpenBorders

  • LEO Lambs Trust Sick Tyranny Plan while going along with whatever new Kamala Anti-White CorporateCovidMaskedGovernmentalCrimePlan

  • A and B and then C these doomed typing things..status-striving for whore make-believe tricked up to deceive

  • Kim Barton has no investigative role, OmniBallot loves unlimited 2000 Mule Dole

  • Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. chimes in to love the Alachua County Scam (Sadie Darnell pretends to not know)

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