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Gainesville City Commission District 1 candidates believe income disparity needs to be addressed

Ways to improve the community took center stage at a forum for the Gainesville City Commission...
Ways to improve the community took center stage at a forum for the Gainesville City Commission District 1 seat hosted by the Gainesville Alachua County Association of Realtors. The main points covered GRU rates, affordable housing, and income equality.(WCJB)
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 11:29 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Accessory Dwelling Units or ADU’s were among the many issues highlighted during the Gainesville City Commission District 1 forum on Tuesday hosted by the Gainesville Alachua County Association of Realtors.

According to the city of Gainesville code of ordinances, these are “independent, self-contained dwelling unit with kitchen and bathroom facilities, on the same lot as an associated primary use or structure. An ADU may be within, attached to, or detached from a primary structure.”

District 1 Commissioner Gigi Simmons hopes the new ADU ordinance will help low-income individuals with housing.

“I’m really hopeful that ADU’s can really bring the affordability that we are looking for and that we are seeking for in our community.”

Desmon Duncan-Walker, who is challenging Simmons, said this option only scratches the surface of a vast issue.

“I believe that ADU’s do present the possibility of creating more affordable housing. However, I don’t believe that they are going to be able to do that to scale.”

Both candidates are also concerned with income disparity. Commissioner Simmons believes this topic must be addressed starting at the city government level.

“First thing that I would like to do and that we are working on is a “Step-Up” policy to enable city wages to be livable.”

She thinks the economy is related to this issue.

“The pandemic has shown us that we cannot focus on one type of economy. We need to be extremely diverse, and we need to be creative in the type of industries that we bring to this community.”

Walker thinks just bringing in new jobs is not going to solve the problem.

“We actually need to upgrade people’s skills to get them the jobs. What I would suggest and what I would look forward to are the increased opportunities at vocational education.”

Gainesville Regional Utility rates have impacted how much people need to spend on power and electricity, and both candidates agree GRU rates need to be lower.

Early voting for the Gainesville City Commission District 1 and At-Large seats begins on Friday, March 5, and ends on Saturday, March 13. To find out more information about voting, click here.

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