June 13 workshop on City of Sarasota’s ‘housing challenges’ to be conducted at City Hall

Event to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Sarasota City Hall is on First Street in downtown Sarasota. File photo

Late in the afternoon of Monday, June 13, members of the public will have an opportunity to learn how the City of Sarasota plans to address the community’s housing challenges, the city has announced.

An Affordable Housing Town Hall meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. that day in the Commission Chambers located within City Hall, which stands at 1565 First St. in downtown Sarasota, a news release says.

“The event will include presentations from City Planning Director Steve Cover and Sarasota Housing Authority President and CEO William Russell, who will discuss their organizations’ roles, current projects and initiatives and how they are helping to create and encourage affordable housing,” the release adds.

Following an hours-long public hearing on May 16, the Sarasota City Commission voted 4-1 to transmit to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity a proposed amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan — which guides growth — that Cover and other city staff members said they believe will facilitate the development of more workforce housing in the community.

The document omitted provisions for allowing extra height bonuses in two downtown zoning districts. Commissioners contended that inadequate public outreach had taken place to ensure the public was aware of such proposed changes.

In one zoning district — Downtown Core — a developer proposing what Cover characterized as a significant number of affordable units would be able to construct up to five extra stories, which would mean buildings as tall as 15 floors could be built in that district. Cover cited “somewhere in the 15% to 25% range” for the proportion of attainable units to justify the height bonus.

Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch cast the lone “No” vote on the transmittal of the ordinance to the state for mandatory review before the commission can adopt it.

However, she did join the rest of the commissioners in a unanimous vote calling for staff to conduct a community workshop on the proposed height changes.