Proposed legislation aimed at changing Jacksonville’s building codes to increase parking is running up against opposition, despite getting unanimous support in one of the City Council committees in November.
The bill’s sponsor is now turning to the broader community for support.
Southside City Councilman Danny Becton wants developers to build wider residential streets, with minimum street width of 24 feet.
Becton said new developments, built on smaller lot sizes are springing up, creating higher density communities and in some cases resulting in a shortage of parking spaces.
He said these neighborhoods don’t provide much room for visitors, leading people to park on side roads and creating a public safety hazard.
“If you have JFRD trying to respond to a fire—respond to a medical emergency, where seconds are certainly precious—having to slow down and make such a conscientious effort of getting through this types of roadways can be very problematic,” he said.
That’s what prompted him to craft Bill 2018-271 last year. He said the bill, which currently has four co-sponsors, would build better neighborhoods, improve public safety, and protect taxpayers.
In November, the bill unanimously passed the Transportation, Energy & Utilities committee, but it has yet to come before the final committee of Land Use and Zoning. Beckon said much of the opposition is coming from special interest groups.
“It seems like every time we take a step forward, we have to take two backwards because someone has another read how this bill might affect a certain group or a certain type of property owner,” he said.
Becton believes the bill is almost ready to pass, but he’s still negotiating with stakeholders. The big hold up now is the issue of “connectivity,” which refers to connecting streets and neighborhoods.
In the meantime, he’s also been actively asking residents to reach out to City Council to express their support.
Becton said the legislation is something that the people from his district have wanted for years.
“It is a byproduct of neighborhood comments and constituents who have come to me and said these things fixed,” he said.
The consideration for the bill has been deferred by the Land Use and Zoning Chair until at least February 5.