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In spite of overwhelmingly negative public comment against eliminating single-family neighborhoods, it looks like the proposals will have enough votes

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

The Gainesville City Commission heard over two hours of public comment today on their exclusionary zoning proposals; despite the overwhelmingly negative response from the public, comments from the commission indicated that the proposals, which may be irreversible, are likely to be implemented next month.

Commissioner Reina Saco quickly exited at the beginning of the meeting, and Mayor Lauren Poe explained that she was concerned about the number of people in the room and the local increase in COVID cases. She joined the meeting from her office via Zoom, wearing a mask, and later said she had elderly family visiting her and was unwilling to take the risk of being in a room with people “of uncertain vaccination status” who weren’t wearing masks.

Andrew Persons from the Department of Sustainable Development began with the history of the proposals, which started in August 2020 with a presentation about equitable development that resulted in a multi-part motion directing staff to hire a consultant to perform an analysis of the City’s codes to end exclusionary practices and to do a feasibility analysis for an inclusionary housing program. The focus of today’s workshop was specifically the exclusionary zoning piece, which includes, among other things, eliminating single-family zoning throughout the city; “exclusionary” zoning is zoning that does not allow certain land uses, like multi-family housing. The inclusionary piece will include incentives or requirements for affordable housing in new developments.

Persons mentioned that the City Plan Board had considered several of the items, but he did not present their recommendations to the City Commission. The Plan Board did not favor redefining all Residential Single Family land uses to the new Neighborhood Residential Zoning District but favored removing occupancy limits that govern the number of unrelated people who can live in a single-family home. The Plan Board continued several items to their next meeting, which will be Thursday, June 23, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Public comment extended over 2 hours, with only one person, Kali Blount, favoring the removal of the single-family land use. 33 people spoke against the proposals in general, and 5 people spoke in favor of removing occupancy limits.

One speaker, Wayne Fields, said bluntly, “I’m here to speak in favor of exclusionary zoning, specifically single-family zoning.” He and other African-Americans spoke about how they had worked to buy a home that could benefit future generations and the fear that their neighborhoods would change if multi-family housing were built.

Blount said that there aren’t many empty lots in the city limits, and developing those few lots into multi-family homes will not change the character of a neighborhood. He asked, “Do we want to continue to have… two Gainesvilles, separate but equal?”

Following public comment, Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said, “The status quo is not working… We have a housing supply issue… We’re running out of developable land inside the city… I hate sprawl; I think it’s the worst thing possible… [Atlanta and Orlando are] horrible sprawling cities… We’re also seeing climate refugees.” Hayes-Santos said President Biden wants to give more money to cities that pass these proposals and that the City Commission has to do what’s good for the city, even if it involves making hard choices. He said he was ready to schedule a special meeting in July to pass the ordinances.

”I believe that a rip-the-band-aid-off approach is the wrong way to approach this.” – Commissioner Harvey Ward

Commissioner Harvey Ward said that commissioners haven’t made the case for the changes: ”I believe that a rip-the-band-aid-off approach is the wrong way to approach this.” He added that even “the most ardent supporters of what we’re talking about this afternoon” admit that the policies won’t quickly add housing but will make a difference “in a generation or two.”

“We are going to end the wealthy monopoly of one type of zoning across this city.” – Commissioner David Arreola

Commissioner David Arreola favored the proposals but wanted a 2-story limit on multi-family homes. He said, “Single-family housing is not being eliminated… We are going to end the wealthy monopoly of one type of zoning across this city.” Arreola didn’t favor the Plan Board’s proposal to simply create a new land use and assign it to parcels with the Special Use Permit process: “The only equitable thing to do is to not give special treatment and not give carve-outs.” Arreola also favored removing the occupancy limit on unrelated people in a single-family unit.

Saco also favored removing the occupancy limit and added, “As for the bigger topic at hand, I will support it.”

“We should not put our community at risk because people want to leave a legacy.” – Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut

Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut said single-family homes are important for building generational wealth. She added, “We need to take our time, move cautiously” and “We need to proceed with continuing listening, hearing from our neighbors… [There’s] no need to rush.” She proposed that the next commission should look at this and concluded, “We should not put our community at risk because people want to leave a legacy.”

“I am uncomfortable with this. The level of analysis that I believe needs to be put into this, I don’t yet see.” – Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker

Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker said she ran on a platform of equitable development: “Equitable development allows for each community to be considered and brought to the table and developed equitably.” She pointed out that the City had purchased a Racial Equity Toolkit and that they should be using it to develop policies like this: “I am uncomfortable with this. The level of analysis that I believe needs to be put into this, I don’t yet see… These types of decisions that have long-term impact… I want to be sure that we think very, very long and hard about and that we hear meaningfully from our neighbors.”

Duncan-Walker said she wanted the City to engage in a “visioning process,” which elicited a laugh from Interim City Manager Cynthia Curry. When Duncan-Walker had finished, Curry said, “The overarching piece… is the Comprehensive Plan… It covers all the elements of a sustainable community… It had a very serious community engagement around it.”

Duncan-Walker responded, “I’m grateful that it’s there. I want to see it applied.”

“The status quo has led to abject inequity in our community. The status quo is not working.” – Mayor Lauren Poe

Poe said it is a “big difficult issue… absolutely rooted in equity and equitable development. The status quo has led to abject inequity in our community. The status quo is not working.” He continued, “This is not a panacea… It will allow more families to choose where they want to live in our city and what type of housing they want to live in… I don’t want this commission or the next to see us taking action on this, and in my opinion, hopefully passing it, as the solution to our problems… We have to take these modest but important steps… to make sure we’re equitable, not just talk about it.”

Although no votes were taken because the meeting was a workshop, Hayes-Santos said he wanted staff to hear that he wanted them to bring back the policies with a few changes, like capping multi-family homes in the Neighborhood Residential Districts at two stories. Saco said she agreed with that.

Staff was also supposed to present their notes from the June 1 Affordable Housing Workshop, but Poe said they were all tired and the notes were in the backup, so he adjourned the meeting.

  • The ordinance is based on envy and jealousy, not logic, math or science. How much did they spend on consultants?

  • They don’t give a dam what the voters think they will follow their left wing beliefs just like they did with BIO Plant look what that and GRU has cost the tax payers

    • Ward stopped to smugly/proudly point out that the biomass plant is actually the most economical to operate vs. the other energy sources. He neglected to mention that the initial cost was about $3 BILLION, regardless of the day-to-day “savings” vs. coal or natural gas. We’ll still be paying that $3 BILLION over the next two decades or longer. And we’re burning up all our trees. Yeah, you guys deserve medals, Harvey.

      • They claim it’s “renewable” because trees can be regrown in 75 – 90 years or so but they are burned up in less than a minute releasing 75 years of carbon immediately instead of the 50+ years until the tree matures, dies, and rots naturally. See any other woody biomass being built! Nope! The similar one in Texas was shut down and sold for scrap at about $50k. This has to be THE WORST case of a city being suckered with a power plant anywhere in the US in the last 50 years. Poe voted for it and these idiots like AHS still think it was a good idea. They paid about $3 million a month of our money from 2014 – end of 2018 then bought it for $750 million, plus interest over 30 more years (even though it won’t last that long). Great deal huh Adrian? Why not buy another one? Maybe Biden will let you go through Hunter to help? U Kind of look like him anyway.

        • Tallahassee was looking at building one at the same time Pegeen was hawking this one here. Tally took one look at it, went running and screaming the other way, and never looked back.

    • This is not a left wing belief. This is a builder pushed investment scheme, an investment scheme pretending to be for the people. Follow the money.

    • Here’s a thought, once this hairbrained idea passes, or even before, solicit all these politicians neighbors with letters proposing to buy their homes, all around these miscreants. Exclude their properties and send them a letter telling them this letter is to inform them of your intent, thereby starting the community notification process. Also let all the surrounding neighbors know your intention of subsidized low income housing and see the reaction. They need to show us not tell us, put you money, or home in this case, where your mouth is!!

  • And the liberal lemmings cry and complain about DeSantis. Who are the ones silencing your voices?

    Welcome to Gainesville’s vision of democracy.

  • In bygone times, society would rise up and administer rightful justice to thieves, liars and such.
    What happened?

    • Hope all the progressive liberal voters are happy with their homes, thanks to the people you voted for, you’re about to share.

        • “More Than My Hometown” is a song co-written and recorded by American country music singer Morgan Wallen

  • The demonrats can’t help themselves from ruining everything. Look at Main St.(single lane), Biomass POS, planting trees (like we don’t have enough trees) instead of fixing roads. Trying to force employees to take the fake ineffective vax.

  • Massive failure on their part. You are going to ruin Gainesville with this.

  • If they really wanted to do something useful, how about enacting an ordinance that allows the prompt removal of an uncooperative roommate, without the hassle of an eviction process. That would allow a HOMEOWNER to have a roommate quickly removed, instead of the current laws that give the roommate equal rights of occupancy. I would not mind a roommate, and could certainly use the money, but I will not give them an equal right to remain in MY house.

    • Bingo! Make the cops throw them out instead of going
      Through the eviction process.

    • I believe Landlord/Tenant law is set by Legislature with very little say locally; may even involve Common Law. Maybe Ollie Douglas can help explain.

      • Rent due: they wouldn’t evict tenants for nonpayment
        When Covid was happening…

    • How about an ordinance for the swift and painful removal of tyrannical commissioners?

  • Says it all: “Hayes-Santos said President Biden wants to give more money to cities that pass these proposals.” Right: another dem payoff this idiot is salivating for, probably hoping his stupid broadband scam can be revived. When has this mommas boy ever been successful at anything, even failed at lying about being a minority with a hyphenated Hispanic name. Truth is his mother married a Hispanic man with Andrew on her apron strings and then in Gainesville for a few years suddenly switched to claiming minority status. Only thing left is to be a victim of something too, like the white police? Meanwhile, he’ll destroy the town hoping for a payoff with Biden funds. If not, back to the apron strings! He’ll never be able to be successful in real business. So long sucker! Good riddance soon! The whole town knows your scam!

    • Hyphen Hayes didn’t bring up rent control…how
      Come they didn’t bring up rent control to preserve
      This “affordable housing”…they can’t just let landlord
      Charge these High rents!

        • THE EXPOSÉ (6/19/22): In 1993 a book was published by a former spy of the MI6 named Dr John Coleman. In that book, 
          Dr Coleman wrote the following –

          “At least 4 billion “useless eaters” shall be eliminated by the year 2050 by means of limited wars, 
          organized epidemics of fatal rapid-acting diseases and starvation. Energy, food and water shall be kept at subsistence levels for the non-elite, starting with the White populations of Western Europe and North America and then spreading to
          other races.

          The population of Canada, Western Europe and the United States will be decimated more rapidly than
           on other continents, until the world’s population reaches a manageable level of 1 billion, of which 
          500 million will consist of Chinese and Japanese races, selected because they are people who have been regimented for centuries and who are accustomed to obeying authority without question.”

  • Ok…if this is such a great idea, Let’s try the proposal on the east side of term first because they always get the
    Short end of the stick and instead of making it 4 units per lot,
    We make it 5 units per lot. Do you know why? I’ll tell you…The city
    Wants to get that landlord fee on 4 units or less. Five
    Units or more and the state of Fl is the regulatory agency.

    • Typo…try the proposal on the east side of TOWN first,
      Not term.

    • 5 units is more affordable units! Yeah, they won’t
      Go 5 because then you escape their tyranny.

  • A little bit of history about how landlord permits first
    Came about: they were created to protect single
    Family neighborhoods around UF so the properties
    Wouldn’t be “animal houses” next to homesteaded
    Properties…that why the prohibition against 3 or more
    Unrelated people living at the house. Where’s Mark
    Goldstein? He championed that landlord permit thing
    Like 30 years ago…now they want to destroy single
    Family neighborhoods.

    • Yep. They came up with the “party patrol” to stop
      Large parties in these residential neighborhoods near UF too…

  • Where are they getting their marching orders from? Not
    From the locals. It’s UN great reset stuff…you know,
    End homelessness, end world hunger, destroy private
    Property rights…you will own nothing and be happy.
    Don’t you know that housing is a right and it’s supposed
    To be free? Put that face mask back on and take that
    Shot!

    • Those air b&b’s are taking up the single family homes
      And turning residential properties into commercial activity…investors are coming in and paying high prices
      Where families can’t afford. What happened to protecting homesteaders and single family neighborhoods? I don’t know about you, But I like
      Peace & quiet and that’s why I don’t live in an
      Apartment building.

  • Neo-nazi sobs. They dont give a d*** what rhe citizens want, think, need. Karma will get these thugs and one can only hope its a vicious payback.

  • There are so many stupid and just plain incorrect statements of commissioners in this article that one can only hope there was some problem with the audio. It starting with Saco not knowing anything about the relationship of viral transmission with the current vaccines and running to Poe’s idiotic rant about equity at the end, the only people demonstrating any intelligence are the remaining city staff, Duncan-Walker & Chestnut. If any of the others ran for a city commission outside of Gainesville they would be laughed out of the race.

  • (I wonder if The Powers That Be Lying Perpetually read these comments and take glee in the harm the Governmental Policies are doing to the citizenry)

  • This is a perfect example of what happens when people don’t vote or pay attention to the issues. Gainesville is run by communist
    Elitists who don’t give a damn what their citizens think. They’re smarter than us and they know what’s best for you. Very similar to what’s going on in Washington. We’ve got to prepare for what these communists have in mind for us with the invasion at our southern border. They have to put these people somewhere. Get ready they’re coming.

    • The fact is that you are in a minority, except on this page. You want to change things, run for office and win. Otherwise, you’re just whining.

  • Everyone complains about COG government yet we can only muster a 12% voter turnout? You get the government you deserve by not showing up to vote.

    • Sad but true. The price for refusing to participate in politics is that you are governed by your inferiors.

  • Let them lead by example. I propose requiring multifamily housing units adjacent to every commissioner’s home.

  • So I guess it’s okay for their City Manager to publicly laugh at them like we all do every other week. How precious is that?

  • Gainesville isn’t a city. It is just a big dormitory for UF students and a hideous corporate fast food strip. All my friends from out of town who have looked at Gainesville carefully have declared it to be a grotesque low class corporate cesspool with ugly apartments popping up like weeds. The downtown is a dump for drunks, drug addicts and goofy college kids. Oh well, it’s only “equitable” and “inclusive” to ensure that everybody and every neighborhood devolves down to the pig pen that would make the lowest of the low lives feel right at home.

  • All zoning is by definition ‘exclusionary’ in one way or another. That’s why we having zoning in the first place. Their ‘solution’ is like saying we should all cut off our private parts so that we won’t have to worry about gender identity anymore. One of them said it… they are following what Biden, AOC, and Elizabeth Warren want them to do. Hopefully it can be “undone” once most of them have been voted out, as Chestnut alluded to. It would be even better if the governor or legislature could pass something to require a decision like this to be on a ballot.

  • Ok, lets think it happens, and now we got more big buildings in our neighborhood…

    Does the city infrastructure is ready for it? Does the gas, power grid and 80 year old sewers that were designed for SIGLE families homes will hold the new demand?

    Our roads can handle more traffic?

    How that will impact the schools and the bus services ? The RTS?

    Are the fire stations ready for dealing with these new buildings constructions and more people? Do they have the right equipment and training?

    Do we have enough city police for the new residents? are we going to be safe?

    What about the trees? Are we going to be gray and hot like Orlando or Jacksonville? Only grass on parks?

    And the wild life? how this will impact the creeks and water stream in our city?

    Who is going to pay for all this? our taxes? The middle class? The retired elderly that live on a 700.00 pension?

    And the most important…What is the plan for the next 50 years? when all the land in the city get full of apartments? when al the neighborhoods get full of mixed construction that will change the character and the identity of them … Were to go?

    What is the City you are building to the future? is that the only way? Are you really think out of the box or just follow the trend?

    I had live in cities that had implemented same strategy…they are ghost cities now, only stores and medical services…people had left, cities are empties and insecure…

    Take your time, think out of the box, get more information and if you don’t have a better idea… let the one who have them do the job. Make the right decision.

    All this can not and SHOULD NOT be respond with a ” it is what it is”…

  • Reina Saco is completely out of touch with reality with her extremist masking and vaccine views and lacks the courage to be a leader. She needs to step down immediately. As for the zoning, the commission will not be satisfied until the blight of grotesque commie-block housing has destroyed what’s left of this city.

  • Are we just going to ignore Poe’s asinine comment about “climate refugees” in Gainesville?

  • THe gentrification of Gainesville has been ongoing for years thanks to a commision that caters to developers. This has created the lack of affordable housing and used up valuable space. Now the commision is expecting homeowners to roll over while they gentrify the neighborhoods. Again, follow the money. There should be an audit that addresses the financial impact (who benefits financially) and a study on the effect on imcreased traffic in neioghborhoods.

  • Primarily, 3 white men: Poe, Ward, and Hyphen Hayes have led this town straight into financial, organizational, and citizenry disaster of the first degree. Sure it had lumps before but these supposed liberal minority lovers have been all for themselves. No telling how many scams they’ve profited from. Most of their priorities make no sense and they have no overall master plan except staying on the taxpayer’s dime. Let’s throw all 3 losers out of office and out of the state of Florida! May the 3 rot in a sewer of human waste forever!

  • I am definitely not a proponent for abortion rights but one can’t help but wonder, “what if?”

    There are times when the world and places in it could actually be better. Hitler, Marx, Castro are but a few.

  • NegotiableWhores wanna mock more while proud to be WeatherWeaponCorporateCovidTorture

    • WhiteGenocideCorporateCovidHomoPride taking ewe for anti-forensic ride while so stuck with BigPharmaDeathCultLies

      • Fort Bragg about your favorite MedicalMilitaryCorporateCovidKinks

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