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Highlights from the December 7th 2022 Tallahassee City Commission Meeting

At the Dec. 7th meeting, the Tallahassee City Commission reshaped the Citizens Police Review Board and approved other items. Details inside.

Brief takeaways:

  • There are five empty seats on the Citizens Police Review Board, due to member removal, resignation, and denied reappointments.
  • The subdivision plat of a Ghazvini-backed development near Welaunee was unanimously approved by the Commission.
  • Nine City-owned Southside parcels were donated to the Community Land Trust.
  • Hawk's Rise Elementary and Springwood Elementary may receive sidewalk improvements, depending on grant approval from the State.

Below are summaries for select agenda items from the Tallahassee City Commission meeting that took place on December 7, 2022. For additional information, access the meeting video, agenda, or transcript (part 1 & 2).

Thank you Adam, Michael, and Darwin for helping with this write-up!

Note: Commissioner Williams-Cox appeared virtually, while the Mayor and other Commissioners were physically present.

The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee delivered its 2022 Report with two recommendations – more education on tenants' rights and the creation of a developer-ready, city-backed planned urban development.

The City’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC) delivered a report on affordable housing and homelessness to the Commission. AHAC is in charge of reviewing the City’s policies and ordinances to identify ways to improve access to affordable housing. Within the report, AHAC made two recommendations: the City create a developer-ready planned urban development, from City-owned land, and protect the health and safety of residents by improving education around code enforcement and landlords’ responsibilities. The Commission unanimously accepted the report and will choose whether to adopt these two recommendations at a later meeting, before the March 31st deadline. During his presentation, AHAC’s Chair, Jim McShane, also noted how the lack of transportation contributes to homelessness and the ability to afford housing: “the business community's crying to us all the time at CareerSource. ‘We can't find the people’. Well, the people can't get there”.

Nine City-owned Southside parcels were donated to the Community Land Trust.

The Commission unanimously voted to approve the donation of nine City-owned parcels to the Community Land Trust, which is operated by the Tallahassee Lenders' Consortium (TLC). The TLC will be responsible for the development and the maintenance of these properties. In 2020, the TLC was selected as the managing entity to establish a Community Land Trust, which functions as both a property holder and developer.

Hawk's Rise Elementary and Springwood Elementary may receive sidewalk improvements, depending on grant approval from the State.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) offers Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grants to city governments that undertake activities to remove barriers that prevent students from walking or cycling to school. If successful, Tallahassee will receive almost $1.3 million from the SRTS grant to cover all construction costs associated with sidewalk improvements for Hawk's Rise Elementary and Springwood Elementary. The Commission unanimously voted to approve Resolution 22-R-40, and, if awarded, accept and appropriate grant funds to the sidewalk improvement projects and authorize City Manager Reese Goad, or Designee, to execute all documents associated with this funding request.

The subdivision plat of a 65-home development near Welaunee was unanimously approved by the Commission.

The subdivision, planned as Canopy PUD 102, is being developed by Ox Bottom Mortgage Holding, LLC, which is operated by Daniel Manausa, Thomas Asbury, Jason Ghazvini, and Behzad Ghazvini. All four were donors to John Dailey's reelection campaign, contributing at least $6,000, either individually or through the companies they control. The area being platted contains 12.16 acres and will result in 65 new lots. Roadway maintenance will cost $8,160/year and will be funded from the City's Underground Utilities & Public Infrastructure capital budget.

Commissioner Richardson will now serve on the Board of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

Mayor Dailey nominated Commissioner Richardson to take his place on the Board of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. Commissioner Porter expressed her desire to serve on the Board, but then said she was "happy" to support Richardson's nomination.

The Commission unanimously approved the following appointments:

  • Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency: Commissioner Richardson, Commissioner Matlow, and Commissioner Williams-Cox
  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council: Commissioner Porter
  • Downtown Improvement Authority: Commissioner Matlow
  • Affordable Housing Advisory Committee: Commissioner Richardson

Members and Chairman of the Citizens Police Review Board were removed due to "bias" against the police.

By now, you should've heard about the drama surrounding the reshaping of the Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB). You can check out the Tallahassee Democrat, or a brief timeline I made, for more details.

Three seats on the CPRB were set to expire on December 31, 2022 – the seats of Suzanne van Weick, Chairman Edward Gaines, and Barry Munroe. Weick decided not to seek reappointment, but Gaines and Munroe both expressed interest in continuing to serve.

After heavy discussion and citizen's input, Commissioner Williams-Cox made the motion to receive applications for board vacancies, remove Taylor Biro from the board, and to accept the resignations of any other CPRB members. Commissioner Richardson seconded the motion for discussion.

During discussion, Commissioner Williams-Cox said she stands by the motion she made because the CPRB has "gone away from its mission", has become "distracted", and issued unauthorized press releases. Additionally, she attempted to "clear the record" by saying she "did not call for the removal of [Taylor Biro]" and did not have a conversation with the Police Benevolent's Association in regards to Biro's removal.

Commissioner Matlow offered a substitute motion to accept applications for the single vacancy and to reappoint Gaines and Munroe to the board. The Commission debated Matlow's substitute motion, but it was ultimately defeated by a 3-2 vote, with Commissioner Porter voting with Matlow.

The original motion, made by Commissioner Williams-Cox, was adopted 3-2, with Mayor Dailey and Commissioners Richardson and Williams-Cox voting in favor. William-Cox's motion resulted in 5 vacant seats on the CPRB – Taylor Biro was removed, Suzanne van Weick resigned, Barry Munroe and Edward Gaines were not reappointed, and Patrick O'Bryant resigned in solidarity with Biro – and a lawsuit. Biro filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Tallahassee claiming her ousting was a violation of the First Amendment.

The CPRB was established in 2020 in response to the community's requests for police accountability and transparency. The scope and mission of the Board is to review officer-involved shootings and make policy recommendations.

The City's $1 billion budget closeout report was unanimously approved by the Commission.

In September 2021, the Commission adopted the $1 billion fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget plan. The budget included a 4.5% across-the-board pay increase, with a guaranteed minimum increase of $2,500 for employees earning less than $55,555. The FY22 budget also converted 93 Other Personnel Services (OPS) positions to permanent, full-time equivalent positions (FTEs).

According to Robert Wigen, Director of Resource Management, the City's close out reflects good budgetary practice and a balanced budget overall. Federal recovery funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was "leveraged to support ongoing negative economic impacts in the community".

An affordable housing development received $115,000 from the City.

Lakeside Flats is a multifamily rental development from Archway Partners, LLC. The proposed 3-building garden-style development will be located at 2120 Mahan Drive, within the City limits, and provides 66 one- and two-bedroom units for those earning at or below 70% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The units will be affordable in perpetuity. 12 of the units will be set aside for extremely low income, which is defined as 30% of AMI.

The development received a 9% Low-income Housing Tax Credit award, which means it will receive a $460,000 contribution from local governments. The Leon County Housing Finance Authority will contribute $230,000, Leon County will contribute $115,000, and the City unanimously voted to approve a $115,000 contribution (from American Rescue Plan Act funds). The contribution will be in the form of a 30-year loan to the project with a 0% interest rate and repaid in one balloon payment at the end of 30 years.

The Tallahassee Urban League will lead Frenchtown's Housing Rehab Program, providing home repair and rehabilitation loans to homeowners and landlords within the Frenchtown neighborhood.

The Frenchtown Housing Rehab Program provides a 5-year forgivable loan to eligible Frenchtown homeowners and landlords to make repairs to homes located within the Frenchtown neighborhood. The maximum funding provided by the program is up to $25,000 for owner-occupied units and up to $17,500 for renter-occupied units.

The Tallahassee Urban League was the only entity that responded to the City's bid to provide program administration and construction management of the Frenchtown Housing Rehab Program. The Commission unanimously approved the selection of Tallahassee Urban League for the project, which will involve administrative oversight associated with construction management of the 32 loans to selected grantees for eligible home improvements.

The City exceeded its House America Goal – 2200 low income units, 100 very low income units, and 200 rapid rehousing units are in the pipeline this year.

However, speakers noted that the amount of affordable housing in the city remains minuscule compared to the need, and advocated for an affordable housing trust fund. The Tallahassee Democrat's recent housing & homelessness investigationexplores how Tallahassee stacks up against other cities in tackling the affordable housing crisis and homelessness.

The Commission unanimously approved FSU's Campus Development Agreement.

The existing Florida State University (FSU) campus development agreement was set to expire on December 31, 2022. The FSU Board of Trustees reviewed and approved the new agreement at its November 18 2022 Board meeting. The updated plan covers the 2020 to 2030 planning period.

The City held two public hearings concerning the campus development agreement. The first public hearing was held by the City Commission on October 26 2022. After the second public hearing, with only one speaker, the Commission unanimously voted to approve the FSU Campus Development Agreement.

Unagendaed speakers made comments about police accountability, Veterans Day Parade, and other local issues.

The next Tallahassee City Commission will be held on January 18, 2023, at 3pm.