The Live Local Act will significantly change how real estate is developed in Florida, Miami land use attorneys said at a recent webinar.
Held May 4, the webinar was hosted by Bilzin Sumberg partners Anthony De Yurre, Sara Barli Herald, and Carter McDowell. During the hour-long event, the attorneys urged developers to gather with their teams, consult with municipal planning staff, and take another look at their planned projects.
“This opens up a whole area of potential development that was not there before,” said Herald, who specializes in affordable housing and tax credits. “There are a lot of changes. This is probably the most significant land use change in decades.”
De Yurre, who specializes in zoning and complex land use, added “This is the Magna Carta.”
Also known as Senate Bill 102, the legislation was signed into law in late March, effective July 1. Among other things, the bill grants developers the ability to build the maximum amount of units a local jurisdiction allows – and at the maximum allowed height within a mile of a project’s site – on almost any property zoned commercial, industrial, or mixed-use. And that developer can obtain those rights without a public hearing.
The catch is that 40% of those units must be reserved for households earning up to 120% of a county’s area medium income (AMI) for the next 30 years. (A developer can seek the same rights with just 10% of the units reserved for affordable housing, but that will require approval from the jurisdiction’s elected body.)
In addition, SB 102 does not destroy other zoning rights reserved by states such as setbacks and parking requirements. However, the law states that cities and counties must consider reducing parking requirements for affordable projects built within a half-mile of a transit stop.
Besides zoning variances, the code grants developers property tax breaks if they constructed or substantially rehabbed a building in the past five years in which at least 71 units are affordable housing. If those units are reserved for people who earn between 80% to 120% AMI, the landowner is entitled to a tax reduction of 75% for those apartments. If the units are for households earning below 80%, a landlord can secure a 100% reduction on a property tax bill. The catch is rents must conform to HUD rent income restrictions or 90% of an area’s market rate, which ever is less, for the next three years.