Rezoning for multi-unit housing gets go-ahead from St. Petersburg City Council

In a 7-1 vote Thursday night, St. Petersburg City Council approved a change to zoning rules that will permit multi-unit housing on single lots, in some areas. 

About 100 people packed into the St. Pete City Council chambers and the overflow room Thursday evening for the public hearing about changing the number of homes allowed on a single lot.

The new zoning rules allow multi-unit homes to be built on some single family lots in the city. It would affect close to 3,000 parcels of land and affect thousands of people along higher traffic areas.

Many of the people potentially affected said they’re not happy about the potential changes. 

The city said the homes would help address affordable housing, specifically what they call "missing middle housing," and that there’s nowhere to build but up due to the growth in St. Pete.

Some who spoke at the meeting said cheaper housing is needed in St. Pete, and they like the idea. Others said they are in favor of the proposal because they feel like it would increase their property value. 

The St. Pete Chamber of Commerce also endorsed the proposal, saying it’s a thought-out proposal to make the area more affordable. 

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Dr. Damian Cullom and his wife bought a historic home on 22nd Avenue North and Dr. MLK Jr. Street North about a decade ago. Cullom said they poured blood, sweat and tears into transforming it to Crescent Lake Family Dentistry. 

About a month ago, he said they got a postcard about a public hearing talking about changing the zoning map for their property and thousands of others across St. Pete, including Historic Kenwood and Crescent Lake. According to the city, the new zoning rules would allow duplexes, triplexes and quad-plexes to be built on single-family properties, like garage apartments.

View St. Petersburg's interactive map of where the rezoning would apply by clicking here.

"You're going to have a lot more issues with parking," Cullom said. "There's going to be increased traffic, increased congestion, increased problems with alleyway blockage. There's going to be increased pollution, just to name a few things that are going to be a problem," he said.

The new dwellings would be limited to two stories. Four units would be built on each lot and they’d be built within 175 feet of the centerline of major streets. 

"Quite frankly, there’s a lot of already parking congestion in the neighborhood here in Crescent Lake, and it's the same all around town," Cullom said.

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition against the proposal. Many people, including Cullom, have put signs in their yards protesting the project too. 

Stephanie Pitts, who lives down the street from Crescent Lake Family Dentistry, said she’s also worried about traffic, lack of parking and that her neighborhood and others will change.

"It won't be an overnight, ‘Oh my God. Our neighborhood’s destroyed,’" Pitts said. "It's going to be gradual. It's going to be, you know, it might take five years or something like that, but like for me, I plan on living here ‘till I die," she said.

The city said they’ll require no less than one space per unit, but Pitts said that’s not nearly enough.

"When they have family over, friends over, a party, where are these people going to park? They're going to park in the neighborhood," she said.

Pitts said she doesn’t feel like the city council has listened to residents, who she said asked to take historic areas out of the zoning proposal. The council voted not to exclude historic areas. 

City officials said they’ve been discussing the idea since 2017 and met with several neighborhood associations.

St. Pete City Council is expected to vote on the proposal Thursday night.