Large crowd attends attainable housing town hall in Sarasota

Affordable housing focus of Town Hall in Sarasota.
Affordable housing focus of Town Hall in Sarasota.(WWSB)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 11:49 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - People had the chance to question city officials Thursday night on plans to incorporate affordable housing into any development projects in downtown Sarasota.

Thursday’s town hall -- the first of two -- in the Sarasota City Commission chambers was prompted by a comprehensive plan amendment approved last year. It’s a plan that focuses on creating more interest from developers and to include much more affordable housing units when they build at one of the downtown Sarasota locations.

Residents can give input on their thoughts about increased density with an offset for affordable housing, and what should that look like,” said City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch. “What should the levels be, how much affordable housing should we be requiring for what kind of density increases.”

Plans that include affordable housing should also provide more than a token number of units, she said. “If we say we’re going to do affordable housing and give extra density, say you’re going to do double the density, then you should get double the amount of affordable housing, not 10 percent or 5 percent; more like 50 or 60 percent.”

Jon Baugh is a longtime Sarasota resident. He says developers should not have to be forced to put affordable housing downtown. He says attainable housing belongs outside of the downtown area.

“Trying to put affordable housing on Bayshore Drive or St. Armands Circle or downtown is foolishness,” said Baugh. “You have tremendous other areas in the city that are ripe for this development, that you can make attractive deals with developers and landowners that’ll get this done.”

There will be another town hall on the subject March 1 at the Sarasota City Commission chambers.