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Naples city council votes to limit housing density downtown

Council to address affordable housing later
Posted at 7:32 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 21:53:40-05

NAPLES, Fla. — The Naples City Council tackled two of the biggest issues impacting residents at Wednesday’s meeting.

The city council debated changing the rules that limit how many residential units developers can put in one space. Part of the debate centered around allowing developers to exceed that limit if the units qualify for affordable housing.

Current rules say developers can exceed the 12-units-per-acre max, but they have to add more open space and pay $20,000 for each extra unit.

Today the city council voted to eliminate those provisions, meaning no more than 12 residences can be built per acre for any reason — including for affordable housing.

The council members say the move addresses the crowding they’ve seen as more people come to town.

“Parking is something that we need to be concerned about,” council member Terry Hutchison said. “I’m hearing from the community that we have congestion issues.”

The council members decided not to include affordable housing in the ordinance because they want to discuss the topic on its own at a later date.

Vicky Rodriguez helps run a group called Rise Up Against The Rental Crisis in Collier County. She was at the county commissioners meeting last week when they put aside $20 million for affordable housing.

Rodriguez said now the city council needs to get on board.

“We need everybody, all the way up to the state,” Rodriguez said. “We need all hands on deck. We need to band together now to come up with a solution.”

John Harney, who sits on Collier County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, spoke at the city council meeting. He said that just because the council didn’t address affordable housing today doesn’t mean changes won’t be made in the future.

“With the way these ordinances work, they tend to be top down … so the city will end up participating in whatever the county approves,” Harney said.

He said he expects the council to work with the county on affordable housing soon. However, Harney said any new developments likely would be outside of city limits.

“The city is very built out,” Harney said. “There is very little land in the city that would lend itself to coming in and putting up, say, a three-story building with affordable homes.”