Discover more from Shelby's Campaign Diary
Tallahassee City Commission accepts $5M to fund purchase of electric buses and calls $800/month converted motel rooms "affordable"
Notes from the November 9th, 2022 Tallahassee City Commission meeting
Good morning, everyone!
Below are highlights from the 11/9/22 Tallahassee City Commission meeting, written by Erica LeShay, a campaign supporter.
Eventually, these notes will be online and available through Open Tallahassee (a digital, people-focused publication). I know I sound like a broken record, but if you are interested in helping us get it off the ground, let me know!
Summary of the November 9th Tallahassee City Commission Meeting
🗳 Our 5 City Commissioners unanimously approved:
The Tallahassee Police Department's request for $50,000 to enforce seatbelt use from the FDOT FY2023 Highway Safety Plan. The funds will go towards overall traffic safety, with an emphasis on seat belt enforcement.
$5,100,000 in funding over five years to purchase electric buses and decommission diesel buses.. The funding came from the Volkswagen Settlement and EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) State Grant Program.
Awarding a contract for installation of gas main and electric conduits to Equix Energy Services, LLC.
$1,000,000 to fund phase two of the Orange Avenue Apartments Redevelopment Project — the project that faced a lawsuit from its tenants over concerns about displacement and being forced to move into segregated communities.
The Tallahassee Community Resilience Plan’s 2022 Annual Report.
A leave buyback option for general City employees and authorize execution of a Memorandum of Agreement with unions such as the International Association of Firefighters, for employees who are members.
📄 Opinion: $800+/month motels is not affordable housing.
By Erica LeShay
I appeared virtually in order to inquire about the recent ribbon-cutting at studio apartment complex Altera 3100, which features 180 253-square foot units. The development is one of the first projects resulting from an unanimously-approved ordinance to allow conversion of hotel properties into housing.
I decided to speak because of my suspicions that this was a photo opportunity for elected officials rather than a viable housing solution. The November 1st post from the City’s official Facebook page was carefully worded, using buzzwords such as “affordable” and “workforce housing,” while omitting that rent for the units ranges from $770 to $1,145, with no listed differences in size or amenities. I asked the Commission:
Who exactly are these units for, being that single people often can’t afford to live alone and one cannot raise a family in a motel room?
How can you justify calling this affordable housing, when the units are essentially $800+ motel rooms?”
As expected, I received significant pushback, the most coming from Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox. Cmr. Williams-Cox contended that Altera 3100 was actually billed as workforce housing. I responded by mentioning the misleading language in the social media post.
According to Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing is deemed affordable when it does not exceed 30% of monthly household income. At $15/hr (which the City Commission has declined to set as a minimum wage), a single person would be spending roughly 45% of their monthly income on housing, well above the federal limit for affordability.
Expecting anybody to pay a minimum of $770 to live in less than 300 square feet is ridiculous, a statement that Commissioner Jeremy Matlow agreed with.
Commissioner Curtis Richardson remarked that Altera 3100 is “affordable for somebody," and went on to list the City’s small-scale, low-income housing initiatives.
Cmr. Richardson’s comments reflected a lack of awareness — the City tried to pass off a project as “affordable”, when it reality it was workforce housing and unattainable, even for current City employees. My concern is the accountability of our elected officials. I’d rather they actually do the necessary work instead of simply giving the illusion of progress.
Thanks for reading Shelby's Campaign Diary! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.