The Gainesville City Commission will take its final vote on Thursday to repeal a trio of ordinances from October 2022 that eliminated its single-family zoning categories.
The previous commission removed the city’s four single-family residential zoning categories and replaced them with a neighborhood residential zoning category that would have allowed the building of duplexes, triplexes and quadraplexes in neighborhoods across the city.
The changes also included new lot split regulations and new bedroom occupancy limits around UF.
The changes passed the previous commission amid widespread community opposition.
The current commission's repeal would restore the city’s zoning and land use to what it was before October 2022.
The City Commission decided to move towards a repeal in January after three new commissioners joined the dais, creating a new 4-3 majority on the exclusionary zoning issue. The commission chose the repeal path in order to return to the previous iteration before moving forward with potential new housing measures.
"I would like us to be able to move forward with some [housing options] that are very interesting and worthwhile and I think the community would support, but I'm not going to do that until I complete my promise to the community with my votes,” Mayor Harvey Ward said in March.
The repeal ordinance passed 4-3 on first reading on April 20, with commissioners Bryan Eastman, Reina Saco and Casey Willits in dissent. Since then, Gainesville sent the ordinances to the state for review. The state returned the ordinances with no opposing comments, according to backup documents from the city.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and Alachua County opposed the original ordinances approved in October. At the time, the DEO called the plan “scattered, unplanned, unfocused and untenable” and said the ordinances wouldn’t increase affordable housing—the city’s main goal.
Both the DEO and two Gainesville residents filed administrative challenges against the ordinances, and Alachua County joined the residents’ filing.
Residents began opposing the ordinances, mainly the removal of single-family zoning, at the end of summer 2022 and formed organized opposition through a nonprofit, Gainesville Neighborhood Voices. Single-family zoning then became a key talking point during the elections.
Ward said the repeal will give the city a fresh opportunity to listen to the community and propose new housing regulations.
He supported Eastman’s proposals to change Gainesville’s rules concerning lot splits, proposed in February, but said the city needs to repeal the previous ordinances before moving forward with anything new.
“The prior commission put things within this that I certainly disagree with, and I would like to see rolled back, but there are certain portions that I don’t disagree with,” Eastman said at the time.