Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Administration Tells Gainesville To Abandon Zoning Reform
Across the country, a growing number of state politicians are proposing or passing laws that override localities’ ability to say no to new development. In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is actively urging cities to knock off zoning reforms that legalize more housing.
Last week, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) sent a comment letter to Lauren Poe, Gainesville’s mayor, recommending that the city withdraw a provisionally approved zoning amendment that allows two-, three-, and four-unit homes to be built in neighborhoods that were once zoned exclusively for single-family homes.
The legalization of this so-called “missing middle” housing “results in a scattered, unplanned, unfocused, and untenable approach to providing affordable housing,” reads the department’s letter, first reported by The Independent Florida Alligator. “This approach may result in fewer opportunities for providing access to affordable housing.”
“I find it interesting that probably the most progressive [city] commission in the state of Florida is pushing to allow more property rights to bring down housing prices,” counters Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos, who supported the city’s zoning reforms. “A Republican executive branch under DeSantis is trying to stop people having more property rights.”
In a tight 4–3 vote last month, Gainesville passed a zoning code amendment that allows up to four homes to be built on residential land citywide. The amendment also shrank the city’s minimum lot size and setback rules, meaning newly legalized units can take up more land on smaller lots.
Proponents argue that allowing more housing units on individual parcels will grow supply and allow renters and homebuyers to split the increasing costs of land among more families. Both should make housing more affordable. After all, Gainesville’s population is growing faster than its housing stock.
DEO raised a number of criticisms of Gainesville’s approach. It argued t
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