This week, the Sarasota City Commission will be presented with an updated comprehensive land use plan for the city. The Sarasota and Manatee Association of Realtors supports this important action and here’s why.
Across the country, we are experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis, and Sarasota is certainly not immune to this. Economists suggest that a healthy real estate market, for both buyers and sellers, will have around six months of inventory. Currently in Sarasota County we are at a 0.6 month supply level. Yes, you read that right, just over half a month’s supply. In fact, for all of 2021, Sarasota averaged just 0.6 months of stock. The year before in 2020, Sarasota had an average of about two months’ supply, and the year before in 2019, Sarasota had an average of three months’ supply in stock.
In other words, our region has been sorely lacking in housing supply for a few years now, and when we talk about the housing crisis, we have to look at these numbers to get answers on why we are in a affordability crisis situation. This is basic supply and demand. We need to do everything we can to increase the housing inventory in our area. Increasing density and streamlining the affordable unit development process are just some of the ways to address this issue. That’s what this updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan will help solve.
In this robust real estate market fueled by low inventory and rising prices, affordable housing, or housing that nurses, teachers, firefighters and other low-income professionals can afford, is now at the forefront of spirits. Possible solutions for accessible housing appear to be within reach for the city with this proposed new comprehensive land use plan.
The overall land use plan speaks of density bonuses based on a percentage of feasible dwellings to be built. This density is welcome and will allow for a mix of market-priced and attainable units in our downtown and commercial corridors. Height and density have been marked as words residents should fear, but with a finite amount of land and our local population growing at a rapid rate, we can only build so long, we will eventually have to build and increase our density. . Otherwise, we will only contribute more to urban sprawl.
The proposed comprehensive land use plan will also enable and encourage economic development along our key trade corridors. An example of this is along the North Trail area. One of the biggest obstacles to redevelopment in this area has been the overall land use plan and zoning. Ever since I moved to Sarasota over thirty years ago, redevelopment of the North Trail has always been a topic of discussion. However, an overly restrictive master plan has stifled private investment in new projects along the Trail, making it look much the same for the past thirty years.
At the rate Sarasota’s population is growing — and there doesn’t seem to be an immediate slowdown in sight — it’s important to support this smart growth effort at Monday’s city commission meeting to address the needs and wants of our current and future residents. Because the only way to provide more affordable housing options is to provide mechanisms that incentivize the development of more affordable housing. And that’s what this new plan does.
Tony Veldkamp is president of the Sarasota and Manatee Association of Realtors.