City leaders in DeBary are taking a stand against new legislation meant to alleviate the state’s affordable housing crisis.
Senate Bill 102, also known as the Live Local Act, passed with bipartisan support. However, the language in the law has created loopholes for developers. Which, according to some city leaders, could have devastating impacts on taxpayers.
DeBary City Manager Carmen Rosamonda believes the bill was created with good intentions, but said it has caused more problems than progress for his residents.
“Unfortunately, this particular bill, with the tax exemption tied to the affordable housing, added to the cost of infrastructure, puts a real burden on smaller cities. If we can’t make some changes, we would have no other choice but to raise taxes,” Rosamonda said.
The Live Local Act requires cities and counties to approve multifamily projects on land with commercial or industrial zoning as long as 40 percent of the units are set aside for affordable housing.
The project would then also be tax-exempt, meaning the city would miss out on a major source of income and possible potential jobs and resources like schools for residents.
“You’ve got to have balance, and if you don’t, you’re going to have a whole lot of affordable housing with no jobs,” Rosamonda said.
He started working with other cities and state leaders to get revisions made to the law after a developer who was supposed to break ground on an industrial site in DeBary, backed out.
He said the builder planned to sell the project to a live local apartment complex.
“We were anticipating 300-plus jobs for that project and a $25 to 50 million tax base and we were concerned about being able to handle 759 apartments on this property,” Rosamonda said.
The coalition has come up with seven revisions. Those range from strengthening requirements for developers, to simply getting approval from city officials before they build.
The city of DeBary recently voted to enter a nine-month building moratorium, while officials rewrite city land use codes. Rosamonda said this could help them should the revisions not get approved.