Orlando’s online permit fee calculator mistakenly gave inflated estimates, staffers say – WFTV

ORLANDO, Fla. — As Orange County debates a possible rent control measure to ease Central Florida’s ongoing housing crisis, area leaders are looking for other ways to accommodate more of people.

Critics say one of the reasons for the home shortage is Orlando’s strict zoning. Many popular areas only allow the construction of one house per lot, including neighborhoods close to the city center like College Park and Lake Como.

R-1 zoning, which historians say is a segregation-era relic, is often difficult to remove due to local opposition. Residents who move to a neighborhood because of its quiet streets full of single-family homes tend to resist denser construction. They also tend to be wealthier and more politically involved.

After a years-long battle, California wiped out single-family zoning in urban areas to ease the crisis in sprawling Los Angeles. Even Florida’s most impassioned politicians have yet to indicate they would support a similar measure.

READ: Orange County rent control referendum has commissioners’ backing

Recognizing this, Orlando city leaders allow most homeowners to build an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, on their properties. Commonly known as garage apartments or granny flats, they allow a second family to live on the same property without zoning changes, as long as the apartment is smaller than the original. Apartments like these provide passive income for homeowners or offer loved ones a place to stay.

“It may fill a need in a part of town where you can’t find 5 acres for a large development,” Elisabeth Dang, manager of Orlando’s planning division, described.

However, ADU’s request to Orlando was disappointing, to say the least. The city government estimates that it receives 100 applications a year – far too few to alleviate the current crisis.

READ: Orange County to debate rent control as affordability crisis deepens

Some residents said the cost of authorizing an ADU deterred them from building one, but city staff now say the estimates they received may have been in error.

For an indefinite period, the city’s online calculator estimated permit fees for an ADU to be up to $20,000, including construction fees and various impact fees. Such a price – coupled with the $100,000 to $200,000 needed to build an ADU – meant that it would take an additional year or more before a landowner’s investment could be recouped through rent.

However, city staff said their calculator included fees that shouldn’t have been listed — primarily, the school impact fee that was nearly half the cost. In reality, ADU permits should only total a few thousand. The price includes sewer fees, transport costs and park fees, as well as the building permit.

READ: Frenzy over, but still no bargains: What a slowing housing market means for Central Florida

“We will be working on fixing our estimation tool to bring ADUs into line with the correct impact fee rates and eliminating the school impact fee,” a city spokeswoman said.

It’s unclear how many people interested in building an ADU were turned off by the estimating tool before approaching the city, though the number is still likely far too low to drastically change the course of the crisis. housing.

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Data shows that Central Florida would need to double the rate of housing construction to accommodate all the families moving to the area each year. While 24,000 families move to Orange County, only about 12,000 new units are built each year, according to a consultant’s report. A fraction of these are considered “affordable”.

The consultant said the pace of housing construction has slowed in recent years, even as the pace of immigration has increased.

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Eleanor C. William