After almost sixty years eastside and westside see eye to eye
Exclusionary Zoning Then and Now

The exclusionary zoning debate has turned an outdated matter into a modern day hot-button issue for the Black community. The narrative in the Black community is that if the city took away exclusionary zoning it would somehow lead to a proliferation of multi-family, low-rent dwellings in east Gainesville. I must say this type of thinking does make one wonder, and truly cries out for a better understanding. To get a greater insight into all of this you must go back sixty years and retrace some events. A segregated Gainesville with an almost exclusively white westside wanted to protect itself from the newly formed federal government Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department that were forming surrogate wings all over the country.

Gainesville welcomed the formation of the Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA) as an agent for change that could be an ally in its fight to tackle a terrible subpar housing problem in the city. The mandate from HUD was to mobilize and launch an attack on the subpar housing sector as part of the overall federal government war on poverty initiative. The GHA hit the ground running and had an immediate impact on housing in Gainesville, especially housing in east Gainesville. With federal government money in hand, GHA drew up a game plan that included building four major developments. All four were to be in east Gainesville. The first, Gardenia Gardens, was built on NE 8th Ave adjacent to the Duval Heights community. The second, Kennedy Homes, was built adjacent the Lincoln Estates community on SE 8TH Ave. The third, Woodland Park on SE 4TH St across from the Sugar Hill community, was followed by the fourth, Lake Terrace, which is located on E University Ave, just east of the Duval Heights community. These four developments came with a lot of excitement because they were transformative in nature.

In 1970, when the four projects were all completed it looked like a win-win situation. The city and the community benefited mightily from GHA's effort, so the story was prime for a happy ending; and it was for a few years afterwards. The fact that GHA's gameplan included zoning changes was not an issue for East Gainesville. West Gainesville hedged itself from the reach of the GHA by doubling down on exclusionary zoning. West Gainesville wanted no part in being a location for a GHA project.

Now, almost sixty years later, the City of Gainesville has a notion of saying goodbye to exclusionary zoning. West Gainesville doesn't seem to have changed even though most of the generation that hedged itself from GHA has gone on to glory. East Gainesville residents have a different view of GHA and their approach to zoning and housing than they did in the beginning. The aim and desire now is to protect east Gainesville neighborhoods from multi-unit low rent apartments by keeping the city's exclusionary zoning policy intact.

Technically, this doesn't make sense because there are very few exclusively single family home communities in east Gainesville that are located such a distance from low-income housing that it doesn't experience any side effects from it. The location of the four primary GHA projects couldn't have been placed in a more negative impactful position for East Gainesville. The outcry from the Black community in 2022 against exclusionary zoning simply solidifies the position the White community in west Gainesville has been holding onto for almost sixty years. Does this mean the Black community is running 60 years behind the White community? Given all the dynamics that are at play in the exclusionary zoning debate, you can bet there will be an unlimited amount of conclusions to be drawn.