Saturday, April 08, 2006

Attainable Housing and the Comprehensive Plan

The city commissioners decided in December to fast track an amendment to the city comprehensive plan. The amendment would give a density bonus to developers that would allow quadruple density in a broad swath of "downtown" if the developers would agree to build 10% of the units so they could sell in the "attainable" price range.

Save Our Sarasota has agreed with CCNA that the timing of this fast track proposal is much to fast to allow understanding of the implications. Implications for traffic, implications for infrastructure, implications for actual attainable housing developed in a reasonable time frame.

One part of this proposal indicates that the attainable housing actually has to be built - by the developer getting the bonus and in the project he is developing. The developer and real estate agent community have been pushing for an "in lieu of" option instead of actually building the units. They indicate it would be too difficult to sell the luxury units if the buyers knew that attainable units were in the same building. Apparently they would rather give the city cash and have the city go through the process of finding suitable land at a suitable price and negotiate construction of the attainable units. They would get to walk away by only paying a fee.

This approach would delay further any attainable housing that might come from this proposal. The idea of fast tracking was to get attainable housing. If we allow developers to get the valuable density increase and then side step actually supplying attainable housing, what has been gained.

Save Our Sarasota would like to see the current proposal discussed, understood and accepted by the community before it is put into our comprehensive plan. It is evident that the community does not understand the implications let alone support the plan at the current time.

We strongly urge the commissioners to pull this proposal from the current comp plan amendment plan cycle.

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