City of Tampa determines that is costs over $30,000 for a PD rezoning

In what can only be called one of those gotcha moments, Tampa City Council was confronted with the realization that its actions are not only costly but so slow-moving that spending $30,000 is cheaper way to avoid its own processes.

Here's how we know this: City Council had a small item tucked into its consent agenda, an increase of more $30,000 to build three affordable houses in East Tampa.

What made this request for additional funds interesting was the background data that stated that the request was to redesign plans to bring them into compliance with the East Tampa overlay district.  For those of you unfamiliar with the City of Tampa overlay districts, these are not health or safety regulations but rather special design requirements for homes in various areas throughout the city.  The problem is that City Council and Mayor Pam Iorio's administration never do any economic analysis of these regulations. They are all designed to pander to the existing homeowners in communities who don’t want “outsiders” moving in.

So in this case, it is going to cost the city’s affordable housing fund $30,000, resulting in higher mortgage payments and property taxes for the new homebuyers.  But more important than showing the cost of compliance with these excessive overlay regulations, it shows the extreme expense in requesting a PD (planed development) rezoning in the City of Tampa — more than $30,000 for developers and, ultimately, homeowners.  So when city officials talk about how fast and easy its processes are, or how you are their customers and they care, remember this: For the city to get through its own process of waiving the restrictions that caused the plan redesign would have had to cost it more than the $30,000 just to redesign the plans. Otherwise why would the City not have just applied for the waivers?

Council had a simple option: It could have had city staff fix the regulations so the city could use its current affordable housing plans, without having to re-draw them to comply with the overlay district.  Apparently they thought that the $30,000 was the easier and cheaper option.  This is an example of the city being called to account for its own regulatory schemes, and unfortunately it is the taxpayers who end of paying the price.  In a time of tight budgets, skyrocketing fuel prices and benefit costs rising exponentially, one has to ask if a $30,000 expenditure — which could be avoided — is the way to go, or if council should FIX IT NOW.

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