Winter Park tries to protect against abuse of state's Live Local Act

The city is taking a page from Tampa as it attempts to ensure projects provide affordable housing under state-mandated rules that are less stringent for developers

Jan. 4, 2024

By Beth Kassab

Last summer a new law took effect in Florida that appears designed to lure more developers to offer affordably-priced units as part of new projects.

But city and county leaders across the state are wary of the new rules known as the Live Local Act that take away local control over the projects — meaning the city would be forced to allow taller buildings or higher density than might typically be allowed under local regulations.

The Act overrides local zoning regulations for any housing project for which the developer declares a minimum of 40% of the units to be affordable, according to city documents. 

Winter Park is just the latest local government to consider a set of provisions to try to guard against abuse of the act by attempting to ensure developers are truly providing affordable units.

The ordinance, which is based on one passed by the city of Tampa, will be considered for its second and final approval at Wednesday’s City Commission meeting.

In addition to clarifying some terms in the act, the proposed ordinance lays out an application and certification process to assure the developer continues to provide affordable units throughout the operation of the development. 

“Otherwise, under the Act, one can declare that they are providing affordable housing but never demonstrate how they are doing such at any time during the initial approval process, during construction or operation for the 30 years required,” according to a memorandum from city staff. “There also are no penalties within the Act for non-compliance.”

Projects within the Orange Avenue Overlay District must also meet the applicable architectural requirements of the district and will be subject to review by Orange Avenue Overlay Appearance Review Advisory Board, according to the ordinance.

“The City may deny a project that receives a recommendation of denial or fails to meet the conditions of a recommendation for approval from the Orange Avenue Overlay Appearance Review Advisory Board,” according to the proposed rules.

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