Housing summit experts: zoning must change to ease Florida housing crisis

Jeff Brandes and Scott MacDonald
Jeff Brandes and Scott MacDonald discuss Florida's housing crisis

One of the biggest culprits in Florida’s ongoing housing affordability crisis is zoning, said three experts who will gather at USF St. Petersburg Wednesday to discuss ways to increase housing stock and lower costs.

Former state Sen. Jeff Brandes organized the Florida Housing Summit through a think tank he started called The Florida Policy Project. He discussed the summit’s goals on WMNF WaveMakers with Janet & Tom, joined by Scott Macdonald, a partner in Blue Sky Communities in Tampa, which has built thousands of affordable apartments in Florida.

Nolan Gray, the research director for California YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard), will also be a part of the summit. He said restrictive zoning encourages low-density, single-family housing over higher density multi-family housing. The basic problem, all three guests agreed, is supply and demand.

Simply put: not enough housing is being built for the thousands of people moving into the Tampa Bay area, driving prices out of reach for most people.

One simple fix, called accessory dwelling units, would allow more housing in the backyards of single-family homes, Brandes said. They are common in the Old Northeast neighborhood of St. Petersburg but forbidden in most cities. Another solution is to decrease the amount of parking required for new development to lower the cost of construction.

Brandes said it will take public education to change public opinion to embraces such changes. People are afraid of change but many of the solutions would enhance neighborhoods, he said.

Hear the entire conversation by clicking the link below, going to the WaveMakers archives or by searching for WMNF WaveMakers wherever you listen to podcasts.




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