It’s no secret that Pasco County deplores the “Live Local Act’ adopted last year by the Florida Legislature.
The Pasco County Commission so vehemently opposes it that the board has directed its legal staff to pursue a lawsuit if any applicant for a Live Local project refuses to back down.
The Live Local Act allows an applicant to convert land zoned for commercial, industrial or mixed uses into multifamily developments, provided the project serves people who meet income criteria.
The law preempts local government from blocking the developments and it provides a property tax break to the developer.
The county has led the charge in opposition to the law.
It has joined forces with Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in lobbying efforts to change the law.
The Pasco county board took another step at its Jan. 9 meeting, adopting changes to its land development code that strip projects from local economic incentives if the projects seek tax exemptions allowed under Live Local.
Pasco County Commissioner Seth Weightman has been particularly outspoken on the issue.
He has said it’s a bad law that thwarts Pasco’s efforts to attract job-generating businesses to the county.
During the Jan. 9 meeting, Weightman shared this piece of news with his colleagues: “We have two existing apartments in Trinity. They’re built. These existing apartments are applying and they’ve submitted to the county to become Live Local projects.
“They’ve applied to become Live Local properties,” Weightman said. “They want a $768,000 a year tax exemption, while charging over $2,000 a month rent for a two-bedroom.
“The company is from California,” he said.
So, local businesses, landowners and taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill, Weightman said.
“The only people getting a break are these out-of-state companies. It does not benefit our residents. It’s egregious.”
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said the county needs to stand firm on its decision to sue any company trying to invoke the Live Local Act.
“Stay the course on our lawsuit. Sue them,” Starkey said.
Ralph Lair, the county’s governmental affairs liaison, said that other cities and counties are paying attention to Pasco’s actions regarding this issue.
“Take note that cities and counties around the state are looking at what we’re doing and have reached out,” Lair said.
So far, the county has been unable to persuade state lawmakers to make all of the changes Pasco is seeking, but efforts continue, Lair said.
Published January 17, 2024