City leaders tout ongoing efforts in State of City address

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said in his State of the City address that the city would rethink “every aspect of our social and economic infrastructure” in 2021.

In a pre-recorded address, the mayor and city commissioners highlighted the city’s 2020 accomplishments and discussed ways Gainesville had dealt with what Poe described as the year’s “threats to our collective well-being.” 

In the address, city leaders along with community partners discussed how the city would be addressing ongoing challenges in areas such as policing, housing, health and the environment. 

Poe highlighted the Imagine GNV process, which started in January and is slated to run to June. It will help set the city’s comprehensive plan for the next decade. 

“Over the next six months, Gainesville will partner with communities historically left out of the planning process to identify how current policies and actions reinforce racial inequalities,” Poe said during the 20-minute video released Wednesday afternoon. 

The comprehensive plan is a roadmap for the city in making public policy and funding decisions, including decisions about public safety, housing, development, transportation and utilities.

“Working together we can lift up policies and practices that broaden access to affordable homes, quality education, good paying jobs and thriving neighborhoods,” Poe said. “To effectively build community, we must remain committed to our goals even in times of unprecedented turmoil and be certain our priorities are in line with those of our neighbors.”

The video was the first virtual address since the State of the City tradition began in 2005.

City leaders also highlighted the following efforts during the address:

  • The creation of three additional mental health co-responder teams, which pairs Gainesville police officers with mental health experts trained in crisis intervention. The teams work to divert people in need to mental health resources versus sending them to jail.
  • An upcoming effort from the city commission to revamp its zoning ordinances to make housing more inclusive and affordable. “I’m excited for 2021 to revamp our housing and zoning ordinances… to ensure everyone in our community has a place to live,” said Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos during the video address. The effort will include creating a community land trust, seeking out partnerships with employers to develop employer-assisted housing options and building an inventory of land suitable for affordable housing development.
  • An 18-month pilot project to recycle organic materials and keep the greenhouse gas methane out of the atmosphere. 
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