An open letter to Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos:
Last night, July 6, you appeared on local television and misrepresented several important facts related to the City Commission’s current proposal to eliminate single-family zoning citywide. I believe your misrepresentations will have a disproportionate impact on our African American neighbors. According to the mycbs4.com website summary of that show, “He says he wants to clear up some of what he calls misinformation. He points out that some of the proposed changes include limiting the height of two-story buildings, and notes that the proposal will not affect zoning in “certain historically black neighborhoods.”
“‘Fifth Avenue, Pleasant Street, Porters, majority of Duval, those types of black neighborhoods won’t see any change because they’re not actually zoned single-family either,'” Commissioner Hayes-Santos said.
First, you failed to mention other historically black neighborhoods, such as Springhill and Sugarhill, that will be significantly impacted by this change due to their proximity to Depot Park. You also didn’t mention that Azalea Trail and Lincoln Heights – also historically black, though more recently developed – will also likely be disproportionately affected. This unfair impact will be due to the amount of vacant properties in these neighborhoods, their depressed property values due to racist lending practices and property appraisals, and the city’s and school board’s historic underinvestment in basic services in these neighborhoods.
Second, you seem unaware of the City’s current zoning. Below are screenshots I took this morning, from the city’s website, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street (FAPS), and Duval neighborhoods. They show that the two neighborhoods have extensive residential conservation zoning (RC, shown in dark green) and single-family zoning (RSF 2-4, shown in shades of yellow). As explained in Article 30-4.16, Table V-4 of the City’s Land Use Planning Code, residential conservation zoning only allows single-family homes and duplexes, while the RSF only allows than single-family homes. (Screenshot of Table V-4 below. Note footnote 1.)
Two decades ago, city officials told me that RC zoning was created in Gainesville to recognize that certain duplexes existed in historically black neighborhoods. This designation, applied long after the houses were built, was intended to recognize what would otherwise have been a nonconforming use while protecting the residential character of these neighborhoods. By avoiding mentioning several historically black neighborhoods impacted – a false statement of omission – and falsely stating that Duval and FAPS are “in fact not zoned single-family” now – a false commission statement – you have given the people of Gainesville , in particular to the inhabitants of these threatened neighborhoods, force them to abandon their fight.
Because these are serious inaccuracies, one of which particularly targets our African-American neighbors, I ask you to formally retract yourselves. In anticipation of your public correction, I have copied various media to help set the record straight.
Kim Tanzer, Gainesville
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