Gainesville Weighs Zoning Reform Proposal

The northern Florida city could follow others in removing barriers to building accessory dwelling units and multifamily buildings in neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family homes. Some local residents oppose the plan.

Read Time: 2 minutes

April 1, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Updated August 8, 2022 to more accurately describe the proposed zoning changes.

A proposal backed by the mayor of Gainesville, Florida is being touted as a boost to affordable housing and equitable development, while critics say the city did not engage with the public enough before drafting the plan, according to an opinion piece by Robert Mounts.

The staff proposal would consolidate all single-family residential zoning districts into one residential zone (RZ), amend permitted uses to allow for small-scale multi-family development, reduce setback and lot size restrictions, remove occupancy limits, increase bedroom limits within the University of Florida (UF) Context Area and streamline 'lot split' regulations.

"The staff says these changes would facilitate diversification of housing types to meet increasing housing demand and allow for a more 'equitable' development pattern in Gainesville." Like similar zoning reform proposals in other cities, "RZ zoning will not eliminate single family housing as a permitted use. Rather, it would introduce the opportunity for small scale multi-family development in all residential areas, thereby providing homeowners with development options that they may choose to explore at their option." Mounts continues, "Similarly, the staff asserts that new lot size and setback requirements associated with RZ will not amend existing lot sizes but will provide development and lot-split opportunities for homeowners to explore at their discretion."

Mounts opposes the proposal, calling it "top-down" and "developer-friendly," while Gainesville's mayor has pitched it as a way to improve equity and housing affordability while allowing homeowners to make extra income from their property.

Monday, March 28, 2022 in The Gainesville Sun

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