Letter: Hayes-Santos’ comments about single-family zoning on local television were inaccurate and should be retracted
July 7, 2022
An open letter to Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos:
Last night, July 6, you appeared on local television and misstated several important facts related to the City Commission’s current proposal to eliminate single family zoning across the City. I believe your misstatements will disproportionately impact our African-American neighbors. According to the mycbs4.com website’s summary of that broadcast, “He says he wants to clear up some of what he calls misinformation. He stresses that some of the proposed changes include limiting building heights to two stories, and notes that the proposal will not effect zoning in ‘some historically black neighborhoods.”
“’Fifth Avenue, Pleasant Street, Porters, majority of Duval, these sorts of black neighborhoods won’t see any changes because they’re actually not zoned single family as well,’ said Commissioner Hayes-Santos.”
First, you neglected to mention other historically Black neighborhoods, such as Springhill and Sugarhill, which will be dramatically impacted by this change because of their proximity to Depot Park. You also did not mention that Azalea Trail and Lincoln Heights—also historically Black, though developed more recently—will also likely be disproportionately impacted. This unfair impact will be due to the amount of vacant property in these neighborhoods, their depressed property values due to racially biased lending practices and real estate appraisals, and the City’s and School Board’s historic underinvestment in basic services in these neighborhoods.
Second, you appear to be unaware of the City’s current zoning. Below are screenshots which I took this morning, from the City’s website, of the Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street (FAPS) and Duval neighborhoods. They show that both neighborhoods have extensive “residential conservation” zoning (RC, shown in dark green) and “single family zoning” (RSF 2-4, shown in shades of yellow). As explained in Section 30-4.16, Table V-4 of the City’s Land Development Code, residential conservation zoning allows single family homes and duplexes, only, while RSF allows single family homes, only. (Screenshot of Table V-4 below. Note footnote 1.)
I was told two decades ago by City officials that RC zoning was created in Gainesville to acknowledge that some duplexes existed in historically Black neighborhoods. That designation, applied long after the homes had been built, was intended to recognize what would otherwise have been a non-conforming use while protecting these neighborhoods’ residential character. By avoiding mention of several affected historically Black neighborhoods–a misstatement of omission–and incorrectly stating that Duval and FAPS are “actually not zoned single family” now–a misstatement of commission–you have given residents of Gainesville, especially residents in these threatened neighborhoods, cause to give up their fight.
Because these are serious misstatements, one particularly targeting our African-American neighbors, I ask that you issue a formal retraction. In anticipation of your public correction, I have copied various media outlets to help set the record straight.
Kim Tanzer, Gainesville
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