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Developers May Get Breaks For Affordable Housing Projects

By ELLEN GEDALIUS The Tampa Tribune

Published: May 18, 2007

TAMPA - City Councilman Tom Scott urged his colleagues on the board Thursday to embrace the notion of creating incentives for developers who provide low-cost housing.

The council eagerly obliged.

In a unanimous vote, the council agreed to ask the administration to look into waiving impact fees for developers who propose affordable housing projects, waiving sidewalk fees in some instances, creating an affordable housing trust fund, and waiving parking requirements.

It was the first real sign that the new city council, which took office in April, is dedicated to finding ways to encourage developers to provide affordable housing.

"Affordable housing is key," Scott said. "You are talking about people such as police, sheriff's deputies, teachers, janitors, waiters, secretaries."

Homes are considered affordable if residents spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. That's a hard benchmark for many to reach, considering that home prices climbed about 80 percent from 2000 to 2005 while salaries increased only about 10 percent.

As a Hillsborough County commissioner, Scott spearheaded the creation of an affordable housing task force. In its wrap-up report, the task force recommended creating incentives to spur affordable housing. The county has adopted several of them.

The city, however, has few incentives in place, although developers can qualify for density bonuses if they build affordable units.

Councilwoman Mary Mulhern suggested that the council slow down approving luxury condos, which most residents can't afford. Maybe then developers would be more inclined to build lower-cost housing.

During the workshop, representatives from the East Tampa Business and Civic Association aired their frustrations with the city. The nonprofit group has built 35 affordable homes in Tampa.

"Why can't the city have a true expedited permitting program?" said Betty Wiggins, chief executive of the association. "That is our greatest frustration."

Among other grievances: Builders are required to install sidewalks in front of homes or pay a fee. Many opt to pay the fee because adjacent homes don't have sidewalks. The fee is $4,000 - a cost that is passed on to the homeowner, Wiggins said.

She and colleague Dianne Hart urged the council to do away with the sidewalk fee. The council agreed to consider it.

In other action:

Councilman Joseph Caetano asked the city to consider creating an ordinance requiring "government fairness and accountability." Among the provisions would be a requirement that city staff members swear or affirm that they are telling the truth when they conduct business in front of a city board or submit reports.

His proposal also would prohibit the city from passing any rules that hold the government to lower standards than the public.

Reporter Ellen Gedalius can be reached at (813) 259-7679 or [email protected].

Senior Button Pusher
17,728 Posts
I watched that meeting last night... Pretty interesting.

SOunds like a good idea to further encourage affordable housing in projects, because the density bonus thing the city put into affect last year attracted no proposals from developers, and the city's current affordable housing aid program only helps about 120 families a year.

4,422 Posts
I oppose this idea. If you build affordable housing, there will be kids and the sound will probably exceed 10 decibels, at which point Mayor Iorio will announce that something has to be done and Councilwoman Saul-Sena will propose a study of how to make the area an artist village/colony and narrow the roads . . . Having come up with a workable plan, the county commission will nix any funding until it gets title to the first born children of all the residents to work cutting down trees in east hillsborough for the latest development in the middle of nowhere. . . . plus a sports complex for quadraplegic synchronized swimmers. . .but we won't be able to call it Tampa Bay Quad-Swimming because it receives state funds and the Pinellas delegation will object to the use of the word Tampa. All proposals to use the original name of the Bay (Espiritu Santo) will be challenged in court and win because that would be promoting religion . . . so we will all just settle on converting the BRT that no one rides into mobile homes for the poor, who can travel the county hawking their wares (unless it is a strip show, cause the county outlawed that a few years back)

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