Newly amended Live Local Act bill heads to state Senate for a vote

Among the proposed amendments are tax abatements for landlords and parking breaks for projects near train stations.

Tax abatements for landlords and parking breaks for projects near train stations are among the provisions of an amended Live Local Act bill headed to the Florida Senate for a vote.

The SB 328 bill was proposed by State Senator Alexis Calatayud (R-South Miami), who co-sponsored the passage of the original Live Local Act enacted last year.

The state law provides tax incentives and development rights to developers who reserve at least 40% of their units for households that earn up to 120% of a county’s area median household income. It includes granting developers the highest density a municipality or county allows, and requiring that those projects are approved administratively and without a vote from local elected officials.

The latest version of the bill unanimously passed the senate fiscal policy committee Jan. 31. It is scheduled to come before the state senate Feb.7. Additional amendments may be published by Feb. 6 prior to the vote, said Anthony De Yurre, a partner of Miami-based Bilizin Sumberg.

Among the provisions is a clarification that owners of apartment buildings completed in the past five years who reserve at least 70 units for affordable housing can seek property tax abatements of up to 100% for those units as well as a “proportionate share of the residential common areas, including land,” states the bill’s text. Currently, the tax abatement only applies to the units.

The amended law would also allow landlords in the Florida Keys to pursue Live Local Act tax abatements if at least 10 units are set side for affordable or workforce housing.

Other proposed amendments include:

  • Requiring cities and counties to reduce parking requirements by 20 percent for mixed-use Live Local Act projects within a half-mile of a train or bus station, if the area is pedestrian friendly or within 600 feet of on-street parking, a lot, or garage.
  • Clarifying that developers are entitled to the highest floor area ratio (FAR) a city or county allows.
  • Budgets $100 million from the general revenue fund to implement the Florida Hometown Hero Program to provide mortgage loans of up to $35,000 at 0% interest for full-time employees of Florida-based employers.
  • Allowing developers to use the Live Local Act on industrial zoned properties that are not on the waterfront or by a port. An earlier version of SB 328, proposed in January, would have made industrial zoned lands ineligible for Live Local Act projects.
  • Enables developers to build to the maximum height a city allows within a one mile radius of a project’s site – except if it is adjacent on two sides of a single-family zoned neighborhood with at least 25 contiguous single family homes. In that case, the developer is limited to 150% of the maximum height allowed with a quarter mile of the proposed development, or three stories, whichever is taller.
  • Prohibits Live Local Act projects within one-quarter of a mile of an airport runway and within any airport noise zone.
  • Stipulates that Live Local Act projects within a quarter mile of a military installation “may not be administratively approved.”
  • Grandfathers building rights obtained via the act, but only if that project provides affordable housing during the required 30-year period. Builders who violate that 30-year minimum must be provided a reasonable amount of time to fix the violation or the property will be treated as a nonconforming use.

Conflicts have arisen since the passage of the Live Local Act between local governments and developers over how the law can be enacted. The South Florida cities of Doral, Weston, and Florida City enacted moratoriums on Live Local Act projects. And in Bal Harbour, Whitman Family Development filed suit against the village government to force it to process its application to add 600 residential units and 70 hotel rooms to the Bal Harbor Shops.

But as the new version of the law is drafted, developers and state legislators have sought to address concerns brought by city and county officials, Bilizin Sumberg’s De Yurre said.

“Cities that get education on the Live Local Act realize that it is an unprecedented tool to face an unprecedented problem of housing affordability,” he added.

Article Link: Newly amended Live Local Act bill heads to state Senate for a vote
Author: Erik Bojnansky