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City Commission to consider dollar store restrictions and electric scooter rentals

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

During its afternoon session on March 5, the Gainesville City Commission will take up restrictions on what it’s calling “Small-box Discount Retailer Restrictions”; these retailers are more commonly known as dollar stores. The Commission will be giving staff direction on what it wants in its ordinance. 

Included in the backup is a letter from City Manager Lee Feldman to the Commission. It states that these stores “tend to lack fresh food choices and can negatively impact rural and low-income communities that may struggle to support full service grocery stores. These types of regulations may or may not be needed or applied city-wide.”

The letter also notes that “offering incentives for local grocers (or grocery stores in general) in addition to community gardens and other similar uses may be necessary to successfully address this issue.”

The ordinance is careful to distinguish dollar stores from other retail operations: “Small-box discount retailers are defined as ‘small box discount stores”, which typically encompass retail sales uses with a floor area less than 12,000 square feet that offer for sale a combination and variety of convenience and consumer shopping goods and continuously offer a majority of the items in their inventory for sale at a price less than $10.00 per item.”

Options include requiring a Special Use Permit, requiring stores to provide a minimum amount of fresh produce, and/or a minimum distance requirement for the local of new discount stores. 

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The agenda includes a map of current dollar stores in Gainesville:

During the evening session, the Commission will take its first vote on a new “Micromobility” ordinance, regulating devices such as rental electric scooters. The ordinance allows 3 companies (“services”) to have contracts with the City, with a minimum of 100 devices per company, and allows for increases in the number of devices over time. Devices will be operational from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (they will be automatically disabled otherwise), and they will be redistributed every morning starting at 4:00 a.m. 10% of each service’s fleet must be placed in Zone A, “which will be described in a map on file in the department and which map may be revised from time to time,” each morning. Although no map is attached to the agenda, previous discussions indicated that Zone A will be on the east side of Gainesville. Devices will have a top speed of 15 mph or less. A regulatory fee of $0.15/ride will be paid to the City by each service, along with permit fees and a $75 fee for each scooter the City has to remove for any violation described in the ordinance. The ordinance will have to go through multiple votes, but it is effective immediately upon final adoption, and the City will begin accepting applications on May 4. 

Comments on all agenda items may be submitted here