What Is The Live Local Act ‘Glitch Bill’? Experts Explain.

As developers look to take advantage of Florida’s Live Local Act, which seeks to encourage the building of more affordable housing around the state, municipalities have pushed back against some of the bill’s provisions, particularly where projects filed under the act can supersede local zoning regulations.

On May 16, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 328, affectionately dubbed the Live Local Act “glitch bill.” Filed by Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, the bill seeks to reconcile conflicts between municipalities and developers.

Francisco Garcia is a city planner with Miami-based land use consultants The Euclid Group. He spoke with the Orlando Business Journal about what the bill would mean for Live Local projects going forward and what recourse is left to municipalities who wish to challenge projects in their borders.

OBJ: What sort of problems were Live Local projects running into?

Francisco Garcia: For a practical example, different municipalities have different density allocations. From the beginning, the Live Local Act provides that the highest density available in the jurisdiction is to be made available for developments under the Live Local Act. Those units have to go somewhere, so you need to have enough development capacity in terms of gross floor area to provide the maximum density. But if you leave in place the gross floor area regulations that exist in the municipality, there may be a significant mismatch. In Miami, you have 1,000 units per acre as your maximum density, which is substantial. But it is limited by the floor-to-area ratio. On any given site, you might not be able to get anywhere near 1,000 units.So where those mismatches became abundantly clear, there was an immediate need to be able to reconcile those.

OBJ: What’s in the glitch bill?

Francisco Garcia: The glitch bill makes it clear that it is the local jurisdictions that have the burden and the obligation to issue the permits. There’s no overarching statewide agency to oversee this. There is a requirement that each municipality publish its implementation standards so that there is as much clarity as possible. That way developers who are coming in can know what to expect and make the process predictable. Then there is a reaffirmation that projects that are proposed under the Live Local Act must be approved administratively without recourse to public hearings.

OBJ: Why was it important to avoid public hearings?

Francisco Garcia: At the state level, the decision was made that affordable housing needed to be taken out of that arena of controversy. So it needed to remove it from this public hearing process because, inevitably, these proposals get stymied in these procedures.

OBJ: Does the glitch bill change any of the tax exemptions properties would get for keeping a certain number of units available for lower income residents?

Francisco Garcia: The glitch bill makes a tweak to the ad valorem exemption methodology to require that, when calculating the value of a unit for applying the Act’s ad valorem exemption, the local property appraiser must consider a proportionate share of the residential common areas, including the land, attributable to such unit and apply that to the exemption.

OBJ: Will some new rules, such as the new requirement that Live Local projects not be within 10,000 feet of a runway, limit the amount of property available?

Francisco Garcia: This provision may be overlooked in its importance as there are many more airports around the state than just the major international or large domestic passenger-serving airports (private airports, cargo airports, etc.). The restrictions do result in less property and land available to utilize Live Local.

OBJ: Is the progress of the Live Local Act being tracked? Does anyone know how many projects have come to fruition?

Francisco Garcia: It’s municipality by municipality. What I can tell you with certainty is that we haven’t seen many yet. We’ve some that are going vertical. Most have not simply because they have taken a significant amount of time preparing those proposals. I would imagine, as we speak, a number of those are landing at municipalities right now. I think in the next two years, we’ll have a much clearer idea of the net effect. It’s too early to tell. But I would bet that every property owner that has land that is underdeveloped is giving this serious consideration because it just makes so much sense.

OBJ: Will there be the need for another glitch bill as cities and counties have other conflicts with proposals?

Francisco Garcia: A number of municipalities, for various reasons, have demonstrated themselves to be averse to the Live Local Act. They have legal recourse. Some of them have elected to go the route of moratoria that have been put in place. Some have claimed compatibility or concurrency issues. So there have been a number of defensive moves made. Everything we need to know to resolve those issues is already in place. I don’t believe there is a need for another glitch bill to address that. I think it is clear that it is a state mandate. To the extent that municipalities are challenging it through legal means, those will be resolved in due time. I think the legislation is fully equipped to the handle those issues.


Source: SFBJ