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Florida Senate aims to help alleviate state’s lack of housing for workforce

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(The Center Square) — Florida lawmakers want to alleviate the state’s growing affordable housing shortage by fixing some of the shortfalls in the Live Local Act of 2023.

The bill passed unanimously with the Senate Committee on Community Affairs on Jan. 9 and was due before the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy on Thursday, however, it was temporarily delayed. No new meeting date has been posted on the state Senate’s website.

Senate Bill 328 is sponsored by state Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, who stated during her bill’s introduction to the Senate Committee on Community Affairs that the bill is designed to amend the Live Local Act, a historic $700 million piece of legislation, and top policy issue for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, during the 2023 regular session.

“As we know the passage of large and complex legislation, lessons learned during implementation highlights the need for minor adjustments,” Calatayud said. “That’s what this bill does.”

The bill would prohibit counties and municipalities from restricting the floor area ratio of certain proposed developments — while authorizing counties and municipalities to restrict the height of proposed developments — with an estimated cost to taxpayers of $100 million.

A county must authorize multifamily and mixed-use residential units in areas zoned for commercial or mixed-use if at least 40% of the proposed rental developments — with 70 units or more — are defined as affordable housing, according to Florida law. They also must also be defined as such for at least the next 30 years.

Counties must also reduce parking requirements if the proposed development is within a quarter mile of a transit hub safely accessible by sidewalks, crosswalks, or bike paths.

“We received feedback from many parties over the interim as the implementation of the bill commenced, and we’ve identified necessary enhancements to effectuate the original intent of the legislation and further the goal of increasing the workforce housing inventory in ways that make sense for diverse communities from across our state,” Calatayud said.

Calatayud pointed out that the bill clarifies that non-restricted units in a development may be offered for sale or lease, however, units deemed as affordable housing must be used as rentals only.

“Not only is workforce housing critical to the economic security of our state, but it is a top quality-of-life issue, impacting Florida’s workforce who want to build their lives and raise their children in the communities that they serve,” Calatayud said.

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