Gainesville close to ending single-family zoning

The home to University of Florida could be first in state to do so

Gainesville mayor Lauren Poe (Facebook, Getty)
Gainesville mayor Lauren Poe (Facebook, Getty)

A Florida city is on the verge of eliminating single-family zoning, hoping to create more affordable housing opportunities.

Gainesville recently moved to ditch single-family zoning, Bloomberg reported. The Gainesville City Commission narrowly voted in favor of the move, which has the support of Mayor Lauren Poe.

Once single-family zoning is eliminated, duplexes, triplexes and quadruplexes will become options on land once designated for solo homes. Advocates point towards ditching single-family zoning, sometimes referred to as exclusionary zoning, as a way to increase housing stock as affordability remains an issue nationwide.

There has been a push in some major cities to do away with single-family zoning, which critics say upholds racist housing practices believed by some to be left in the past. Minneapolis led the charge in 2018, but while other major cities have mulled similar measures, the push around the country has yet to reach a tipping point.

As the narrow vote suggests, not everyone in Gainesville is thrilled about the changes. A marathon meeting lasted seven hours as dozens of residents had their say, mostly in opposition to the policy. Among the concerns cited: gentrification, property values and quality of life, typical talking points from the NIMBY community.

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One resident even said that a majority of city commission candidates would try to overturn the zoning changes if elected.

Some students at the University of Florida, however, spoke in favor of increasing zoning density to address the city’s needs. If the measure gets final approval, it would be the first in Florida to ban single-family zoning.

The Gainesville commission is required to take a second vote on the measures, although this is typically viewed as mere formality. It will also need to weigh a staff study regarding a proposed sunset provision.

Then, the policy gets kicked over to the state department of economic opportunity, which will have 30 days from the last vote to approve the measure.

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— Holden Walter-Warner