Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Affordable Housing - Options

Dale White's article about affordable housing options in Palmetto indicates that if developers there don't build affordable units, they will have to pay a substantial penalty - 1 1/2 times the price of the required home.

Sarasota is still studying the options.

Last week, ERA Consulting appeared before the CRA Advisory Board and presented initial thoughts about the project they have recently started for Sarasota that includes a potential Comprehensive Plan Amendment for attainable housing. Comments and questions were given by the CRA Advisory Board.

Some of the these included:
  • Higher density must be acceptable to the community and must preserve profit for developers.
  • Will a series of options be presented or will only the preferred option be given?
  • What options are available for long term affordability?
  • Would ERA consider transferring building rights from historic structures, thereby helping retain historic structures?
  • Goal is to get affordable units built, not pay into a trust fund (echoed by most CRAAB members).
  • ERA recommendation would replace the current DROD.
  • One of the items (#7) on the preliminary list could be put in place tomorrow if anyone was listening.
  • Should look at all land available in city - like Water Tower Park. The cultural district was not allowed to have housing thus taking away available land.

We have indicated before and will say it again, Sarasota has two properties downtown that could provide affordable housing: the parking lot behind the opera and the State St parking lot.

Currently our commissioners have put a higher priority on retail (mostly upscale) and luxory condos and thus have not considered how these city owned properties could help make downtown truly vibrant by assuring a diverse residential mix. If the commissioners were serious about affordable housing downtown these properties present a real opportunity.

Commissioner Shelin apparently has been listening as he has suggested that the option of some affordable housing be considered at the opera lot.

It will be interesting to see what kind of amendment will be placed in the Comprehensive Plan. Based on recent experience with the Downtown Code we are not holding our breath.

"We're trying to tell developers: 'You have to do this,'" Tanya Lukowiak, the city's community redevelopment director, told the [Palmetto] City Commission on Monday night.

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