Letter: Don’t vote for Arreola or any other candidate that supports him

Dear readers,

I know that many of you have seen posts that I have made on different subjects. Some agree with the comments I make, and some do not and that’s ok. Some want to fight and argue and some just leave a little emoji and move on and that’s ok too. We all have different life experiences for a lot of different reasons and that means we are not always going to agree with each other. (It also means we can learn a lot from each other if we listen.)

What I have watched for the last few months coming out of the debate regarding our commissioners ending single-family zoning is crushing and heartbreaking. I will continue to refer to it as ENDING SINGLE FAMILY ZONING; the board wants it only referred to as exclusionary zoning because the hope is it will trigger and/or guilt enough people to gain support and make people think they are some kind of saviors (it’s a lot of ego, in my opinion).

Thursday night at the city commission meeting, I watched something amazing happen. People from every side of town, every race, every political party, economic background, and every age group showed up, called in, watched, and listened as they were completely and utterly ignored because they have all been saying NO to this for months. People have cried, screamed, talked, rallied, signed petitions, emailed, and made phone calls to 3 elite board members and a mayor that could care less about the people they work for. Hayes-Santos actually said Friday on the news that there are a “few” people that don’t like it.

What I heard Thursday night from the commissioners that support ending our neighborhoods was concern for “climate immigrants,” wanting to be like Biden (whatever that means, I honestly don’t know), people from Miami needing a place to go when it sinks (as if people from big cities would come to small-town Gainesville even if that were happening, never mind I’ve been hearing about Miami being gone in 20 years for more than 50 years now and my parents heard it, too), and people that need affordable places to RENT (transient population).

What I didn’t hear from those same commissioners is anything about the infrastructure of the city and how it can support them eliminating our neighborhoods. Nothing about how this would impact our schools that are already overcrowded during a national teacher/bus driver shortage and will likely play a role in increasing crime, behavior issues, and increase an already oversized gap in this town. Nothing about how many more trees we lose or the increase to sewer and water when neighborhoods not designed for anything beyond single family houses are overcrowded.

Imagine a 4-unit building next door with a family of 3 (or group of 3 students) in each unit; that is an additional 16 people where a family of 3-5 may have formerly been in a single-family home. Each of those 4 units will probably have a car, if not two–that’s 8 cars that need parking vs. one or two, yet single-family neighborhoods are designed to only have a single driveway, so where is the parking lot going? How long before they change something else that actually takes a portion of your land to allow for that?

What I didn’t hear them talk about is that those units would end up being rentals that are run by management companies that could care less what condition the property or neighborhood is in as long as they are making money. What I didn’t hear them talk about was how property values decrease when multi structure units are put in close by–except once when they tried to deny it and say it would make housing cheaper (it has been that way forever, but they even ignored relators and builders that told them the same thing). Not one of them cares enough to think about things getting cheaper because the value is less. What I didn’t hear was actual data, just some random theory based on out-of-the-country information and some random city up north. What I didn’t hear was any kind of common sense or consideration for the people that actually live in this city, in some cases for generations.

I fully understand that there are times that elected officials are going to do things I don’t like or agree with, be they from my own party or the opposite party. I understand that there are times things are going to happen that I do not like, but a greater majority of the people are going to support it and I have to deal with that, same as anyone else. But what I saw last night was an arrogant, extremely narcissistic, extremely far left progressive and entitled board majority go directly against what almost all of the people in the city, along with their own housing committee, the county commission, and three of their own commissioners, said NO to.

What I watched last night was a dictatorship being born, when four members of an elected board told the people to get bent, that they know best, that they could care less about impact as long as their vision is accomplished; they are not responsible for data or research beyond “they want to try it, damn the consequences,” they could care less about the families and hardworking people that live here and in fact pay their salaries. Last night I watched three board members and the mayor shoot the middle finger at the whole city and tell the city residents “they are just afraid” and in effect, “shut up, don’t worry, you will see we are smarter and know better than you do about your life, your neighborhoods, your dreams, your children and your investments.”

It would tick me off if I was the only one that said no, and it happened anyway, and I’d have to get over it…. but this absolutely terrifies me because it seems to be a trend in cities that claim to be very progressive like Gainesville. More and more, the extremists on both sides of political lines are losing their minds, and they have “We the people” so busy fighting each other they just become more and more extreme and dictatorial. I believe that more of us are closer to the center and agree more than disagree on a lot of things.

That was something I saw last night.. all those people coming together to tell this board not to take away our neighborhoods, all in agreement for the same reasons, sometimes different reasons, but together (the city commission, it seems, wants people to believe that the people there last night were the only ones that don’t want this and ignored thousands of signatures on multiple petitions, emails, and calls).

This board has spent so much time and money catering to UF and building in places throughout the city that they shouldn’t have, doing things with our money they shouldn’t have, and they now are taking away our neighborhoods to pretend to fix things they have done nothing about to begin with, for people that “might” need to move here sometime in the future. When the problems from this newest “brilliant” idea start, how long do you think it will take to get that taken care of? How many multi units will be decreasing your property values by that time? How many people will have rotated in and out of those buildings in your neighborhood?

Meanwhile, they haven’t actually addressed affordable housing at all and have made it almost impossible for anyone other than big developers to build housing that actually is affordable to the majority of the people in need. “Not affordable” has been defined by an elitist city commission that would quickly take away our family neighborhoods and ultimately provide expensive rentals to transient people so that management companies get the wealth that we once tried to gain by investing in our homes.

I will not be supporting David Arreola for mayor (full disclosure, I wasn’t even before last night), but in addition I will not be supporting any candidate that supports him. There are four running for school board that I will not vote for because they advertise their support for him on their campaign pages (I still have to check the candidates for other offices). Anyone that would support this kind of radical takeover of the city when the people are so against it, I cannot vote for.

People who cannot listen, share ideas, and implement (or not) things when the mass of the people are screaming to be heard, so they can insert their own vision, have no place in charge of children. (We already watched the mess that happened with the ex-Superintendent, and it was horrible no matter what side of it you fell on). The three city commissioners and the mayor that voted to do this against the will of the people should never hold any kind of office again, nor, in my opinions, should anyone that supports them and the kind of dictatorship we saw last night.

I hope everyone takes some time to watch the city commission meeting from August 4, if for no other reason than to experience the unification of the people of the city. If you live in the city or not, I hope everyone will continue to share their voice and emails to the state to stop four people from destroying the neighborhoods of thousands against their will. As I understand it, the state gets the final approval, so we need to let them know how we feel about this and not allow these four people to make it appear they represent the majority of people in this case.

For those not in the city, remember this impacts you as well. More people may begin to flee the decisions of the city commissioners (along with tax and GRU increases), increasing the population outside city limits by those hoping to stay in Alachua County but having to get out of the city. (Some of that migration is already happening, and this could very well make it worse, also affecting the infrastructure.)

Thanks for reading along while I vent my heartbreak, anger, and frustration,
Laura DiStefano, Gainesville

  • If elected to District 3 City Commissioner, I will vote redact the changes if DEO approves them? I endorse Ed Book for District 2 and Gary Gordon for Mayor.

    • Patrick O. Ingle: I want to know more about your candidacy and what you stand for…please answer the following questions:

      1. Is housing a right?

      2. What can we do to stop climate change?

      3. What would you do as a commissioner to stop homelessness?

      4. What groups or organizations are you a member of?


    • Patrick, you are exactly right! Oath of office and civility are missing on this round of dictators. Civility needs to be reinstalled, something that has been missing for years. You, Ed Book & Mr. Gordon are all gentlemen that we, as voters, can be confident that our voices will be heard respectfully.

    • Mr. Ingle, how is this bad new zoning idea any worse than the proven bad idea of rent control advocated by your campaign web site? Rent control does not work.

  • On one acre, there could be 15 units (each with 3-4 bedrooms) 60 people or more since no ocupancy limts, and one signicant tree and parking for two cars and bascially zero lot lines.

    • A lot of section 8 tenants live slovenly and deal with drugs…they destroy where they live. The GNV CC wants to turn our city into a huge affordable slum. Do they think they can end world homelessness & hunger by accommodating all the climate refugees here?
      Wasn’t Grace Mkt supposed to fix that? Instead, we got unintended consequences…

    • Imagine what that’d do to the old public infrastructure in SFR hoods, too. One disaster after another!

  • Completely agree with your assessment of that situation. It’s incredible what is going on in Gainesville. Same type of situation happened with the School Board and the former Superintendent Simon. When a power group gains majority control and you receive the same 3-2 voting pattern or the City of Gainesville with 4-3. The process and oaths of office were tossed. The old meeting before the meetings is going on. Critical to remove those that have been compromised.
    Remove them as fast possible.
    First opportunity is August 23.
    Stop the apathy. They only exist because we as a society don’t become involved until it’s on your doorstep.That must stop!

    • Bob, the City is actually 4-2. Harvey Ward would have voted for this but Poe gave him a pass to try to salvage his mayoral campaign.

  • I think Mr. Ingle is a member of the group that influenced the CC to create the
    Tenant bill of rights and the landlord ordinance that affects landlords with 4 units or less…

    • Isn’t he a big “homeless” (schizo vagrant) advocate? That’s always been Ingle’s #1 concern from what I recall.

      • I think Ingles is a member of that workers & labor coalition group that has the 2 hammers in their logo…is the politically correct jargon when referring to homeless, vagrants, & bums now “climate refugees”? If so, then I’m seeing the results of global warming and climate refugees are all over town now…is this why the army is building that huge vehicle repair/ refugee camp at the old fair grounds on 39th? Is there something the city manager can do about the climate refugees in the intersections begging for $?
        If we don’t address the climate issue in Miami now, we are going to have the climate refugees in tents all over the sidewalks like they have in Seattle…

  • The majority city commission and mayor are bonkers. Thank God for term limits! Now if we could just get that at Congress, the country might be saved too.

  • The most galling thing about these people isn’t their wacko views. It’s that they want NO discussion, NO debate, and NO cost/benefit analysis. We saw this during Covid, too.

    Arreola is the absolute WORST, for sure.

  • Hey Jake, do a quick diddy of a climate change refugee in an intersection with a sign that says “ need $ to move to GNV because of global warming”

  • While I don’t (thank goodness) live within the city of Gainesville, what happens in G’ville is still of interest to me.

    This letter accurately reflects the frustration of the citizens of Gainesville, the City Commission. I’ve lived near Gainesville or in Gainesville for 30 years and it’s always been the same: what the citizens want doesn’t matter.

    The City Commission is famous for ignoring citizens and listening to developers and UF, one has to wonder why….

    Alachua County/Gainesville has gotten so corrupt that many citizens are lobbing to split off and form a new county, Spring County, I can’t say as I blame them and I’m ever so glad we decided to get out of Gainesville and live in the country.

  • I hear frustrated African Americans angrily respond they have been denied the American dream of single family homes by commission members of their own political party.

  • Can’t the new city commission that gets elected simply rescind this if it’s passed?

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