Miami affordable housing plan could double some densities
Written by John Charles Robbins on January 10, 2017
In the past three years City of Miami officials have taken several steps to help encourage construction of affordable housing.
In an area where the market rate for rentals seems out of reach for many, city officials have over time approved a series of incentives to get more affordable housing built.
The latest proposal, authored by city staff, could double allowed density of residential projects under certain conditions, and focuses on where there is the greatest need: workforce housing and extremely low-income housing.
The proposal is due for a first reading by the city commission today (1/12). The applicant is listed as City Manager Daniel J. Alfonso.
The legislation would update the Miami Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan to reflect changes in local conditions regarding housing affordability, including new goals, objectives and policies.
This update would support land development regulations that allow for a density increase for projects that provide a specific mix of housing that is entirely affordable to individuals and families that meet the established criteria for workforce, affordable and extremely low-income housing.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Department recommends approval. The Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board voted unanimously Dec. 7 to recommend the commission approve the changes.
The legislation notes that the city commission adopted the Miami Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan in 1989. It’s a policy document to guide development; evaluate how the city will meet the needs of residents, visitors and development; and provide a master plan that the city considers when making development decisions.
State law dictates that the plan should be regularly updated to reflect changes in local conditions.
Affordable housing is a significant issue affecting the residents of the city, it says.
Attached to the legislation is a study by the New York University Furman Center that says that the City of Miami is the least affordable to the median renter of 11 metropolitan areas studied.
Embracing the tenets of New Urbanism and Smart Growth, the city has established residential density increase overlays in the urban core where mixed-use development is encouraged and transit exists, it says.
The city is among one of the 100 Resilient Cities, a Rockefeller Foundation program dedicated to helping cities become more resilient to the century’s physical, social and economic challenges.
Equitable distribution of decent, affordable housing has been recognized as a fundamental element of a “Resilient City,” modeled by the resiliency strategy of Oakland, CA.
The legislation mentions a significant change anticipated in the city’s housing market this year.
It says 47% of the Miami Metropolitan Area subsidized housing stock is due to expire by 2017, displacing low-income tenants who are rent-burdened.
Another cited report says that mixed-income developments offer an opportunity for people with low incomes to access low-poverty neighborhoods and better performing schools.
The city aims to encourage affordable housing in appropriate locations, the legislation says.
One new goal to add to the comprehensive neighborhood plan is this: “Incentivize sustainable, affordable housing solutions while continually improving the quality of life for all who live in Miami.”
New objectives listed under this goal include: reserve 5% of the new housing stock to be built over the next five years for mixed-income developments; reserve 40% of the housing stock built under affordable and attainable mixed-income programs over the next five years for housing low-income elderly households; and reserve 40% for workforce housing.
Proposed policy language reads in part, “Developers building residential projects that are built for extremely low income housing and workforce housing … are encouraged to build additional units per acre to increase the amount of sustainable housing solutions available for households that are cost-burdened relative to housing expenses.”
Examples of proposed density bonuses include:
- Areas designated as Low Density Multifamily Residential currently allow residential structures to a maximum density of 36 dwelling units per acre. Suggested as an amendment it would read “and may allow residential structures to a maximum density of 72 dwelling units per acre if the residential structure is entirely comprised of Workforce, Affordable, and Extremely Low Income housing units …”
- Areas designated as Medium Density Multifamily Residential allow residential structures to a maximum density of 65 dwelling units per acre. The proposal says, “and may allow residential structures to a maximum density of 130 dwelling units per acre if the residential structure is entirely comprised of Workforce, Affordable, and Extremely Low Income housing units …”
- Areas designated as High Density Multifamily Residential allow residential structures to a maximum density of 150 dwellings per acre. The proposal may allow up to 300 dwellings per acre if the residential structure is entirely comprised of workforce, affordable and extremely low income housing units.
The legislation also lists the Central Business District, where residential facilities (except for rescue missions) alone or in combination with other uses are allowable to a maximum density of 1,000 dwelling units per acre.
The proposal adds the wording: “and may allow residential facilities to a maximum density of 2,000 dwelling units per acre if the residential structure is entirely comprised of Workforce, Affordable, and Extremely Low Income housing units …”
These would all be subject to the provisions of the applicable land development regulations and the maintenance of required levels of service for facilities and services included in the city’s concurrency management requirements.
Policies that encourage workforce housing strive to provide affordable homes for middle-income service workers – such as police officers, firefighters, teachers and nurses – near their jobs.