BY JENNIFER CABRERA
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has filed a petition with the State of Florida Division of Administrative Hearings against one of the City of Gainesville’s exclusionary zoning ordinances, claiming that the ordinance, which amends the City’s Comprehensive Plan, will “adversely impact an important state resource or facility, in this case being affordable housing.”
In September, DEO submitted comments to the City, recommending withdrawal of the City’s plans to remove all single-family zoning throughout the City; the city commission passed the ordinances on 4-3 votes on October 17.
The City has contested DEO’s assertion that affordable housing is an important state resource, but DEO’s petition argues that there is no merit to the City’s position because the legislature created the Florida Housing Finance Corporation more than 40 years ago to provide affordable housing opportunities to Florida’s residents and has affirmed the state’s role in various statutes.
DEO says ordinance “adversely impacts the creation and preservation of affordable housing”
The petition quotes Florida Statutes that require all comprehensive plans to “allow the operation of the real estate markets to provide adequate choices for permanent and seasonal residents” and that the ordinance “creates internal inconsistency with other elements of the City’s Comprehensive Plan” and “adversely impacts the creation and preservation of affordable housing, and it therefore cannot stand.”
The petition argues that the City’s Housing Element Policy requires that the University of Florida and the private sector “shall be responsible for providing housing for college students” and that the ordinance “will predominantly benefit college students.” The petition concludes, “Based on its own data, it is simply illogical for the City to argue that by entirely removing the concept of lower density detached residential dwellings, and doing so with no incentives or restrictions to promote the creation and preservation of affordable housing, that it is doing anything more than helping provide housing to college students ad higher income residents.”
The petition also claims that the ordinance is inconsistent with the City’s policy requiring it to “maintain sound viable neighborhoods” because it “does not account for established neighborhoods.”
“The City is doing this with nothing more than the hope that the market will create and preserve affordable housing”
DEO argues that the ordinance “will also be wholly ineffective to create and preserve affordable housing, and will actually have an adverse impact in that regard… The City is doing this with nothing more than the hope that the market will create and preserve affordable housing–and that hope goes against the City’s own data.” DEO further adds that affordable housing will most likely not be constructed without “inclusionary zoning tools that require or encourage developers to create affordable housing in what are otherwise market-rate developments.” The City Plan Board is scheduled to consider inclusionary zoning ordinances this month.
A formal hearing on the petition is scheduled for December 6. An Administrative Law Judge will then issue a Recommended Order to the Administration Commission, which will enter a Final Order.