GNV and the anti-Ron find common ground

Gainesville’s mayor and city commissioners are frantically trying to cut spending in the hope that Gov. DeSanitizer won’t suspend them over GRU’s high debt load.

The anti-Ron is probably going to sack them anyway, because GNV elected officials are Democrats and that alone, in GOP Tallahassee’s increasingly jaundiced eye, is grounds for expulsion.

Still, maybe there’s something commissioners can do to get on the anti-Ron’s good side. Here’s a thought.

The anti-Ron has declared war on DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion). He wants DEI out of schools and colleges. He wants DEI out of a corporate Florida. It’s only a matter of time before he gets around to outlawing DEI in county and city business.

So on that score, maybe the commission’s determination to excise DEI from Gainesville’s housing policy will mollify the anti-Ron.

Make no mistake. The Commission majority’s determination to get rid of the inclusionary zoning ordinance passed last year by a previous commission is very much a war on DEI when it comes to housing availability and affordability.

No doubt, some commissioners were shocked the other day when city staffers wrote into the official record that a return to single family (i.e. exclusionary) zoning “will not serve the public interest.”

To back that up, planning staff felt obliged to deliver a lesson on professional ethics.

“Planning staff are guided by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Code of Ethics,” staff said in a memo. “The Code of Ethics includes a strong focus on inclusivity and the role that the Planning profession has played in establishing exclusionary zoning and practices.”

Reverting to exclusionary zoning – a Jim Crow era tool originally implemented to ensure neighborhood segregation – would violate the planning staff’s obligation to “achieve economic, social, and racial equity” in city housing policy.

Commissioners of course are not obliged to follow such ethical considerations. Apparently it is sufficient that enough of them promised, before and during the last election, to restore a rigid zoning code that effectively locks a lot of folks – primarily renters and low income families that aspire to first home ownership – out of 62 percent of the city’s land mass.

Commissioners know very well that exclusionary zoning inhibits the housing choice and affordability in GNV. But in case they’ve forgotten, here are some charts from HR&A, the consulting firm hired by the previous commission to examine GNV’s zoning policies.

According to HR&A:

Racial segregation, housing costs and availability are all deterrents to affordable housing in GNV.

White families are more likely to own their own homes. Black families are less likely.

The average rental unit in GNV “is currently only affordable to the typical white or homeowner household.”

Despite the explosion in student apartment construction in recent years, “non-student renters are not benefitting from new housing at the same rate.”

Exclusionary zoning excludes “a diverse (often racially diverse) range of households from residential neighborhoods.”

“Gainesville is racially segregated.”

Race still “determines not only where people live in Gainesville, but also the type of housing in which they live.”

The deck is stacked against minorities to the extent that homeownership is key to “generational wealth-building.”

Renters can’t get a break in this city.

“Homeownership remains unattainable for the average household in Gainesville, especially Black, Hispanic and renter households.”

The previous commission majority committed to incorporating DEI principles into virtually all aspects of GNV’s workings. For this new commission to walk back that commitment is astonishing.

Still, if nothing else, it may earn them a nod of grudging approval from the anti-Ron when they need it more than ever.

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