UPDATE: St. Petersburg passes a housing-density increase; it draws mixed reactions from local groups

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St. Pete cityscape
Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (April, 2016).

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Update: On Thursday evening after this story aired St. Pete City Council passed the housing-density increase.

The St Petersburg city council will vote on a measure to increase housing density in the city, however, local housing advocacy groups have very different reactions.

The St Petersburg City council is set to vote on loosening zoning restrictions in a process called “upzoning”, which would allow the development of small, 2-4 unit apartments in neighborhoods where they were previously prohibited.

This is the city’s solution to the sharp increase in demand for housing.

YIMBY St. Pete, a coalition of zoning and regulatory reform advocates, believes upzoning will encourage more housing that people of all income levels can afford.

However, Karla Correa, an organizer with the St. Petersburg Tenants Union feels that the new measure isn’t doing enough to help the housing issue.

“They’re trying to trick people and say ‘oh this is a progressive measure’, but in reality, it’s really a form of deregulation for developers,” Correa told WMNF News. The organization regularly advocates for housing protections and helped pass St. Petersburg’s Tenant Bill of Rights. Correa wants St. Pete leaders to shift focus on those who are already struggling with housing.

“They could declare a housing state of emergency and allow us to vote on rent control, we need the right to counsel, we need to be guaranteed a lawyer if we’re facing eviction, we need more protection for the conditions on our housing,”

St Petersburg City Council will vote on this bill at City hall and the event will be streamed online at stpete.org.

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