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  1. Opinion

Too little supply and too much demand for apartments

Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
The Reed at Encore, one of Tampa's signature affordable housing projects
The Reed at Encore, one of Tampa's signature affordable housing projects
Published Dec. 6, 2019

Apartment supply lags demand

Affordable housing stays out of reach | Editorial, Dec. 1

As the 2018-2019 president of the Bay Area Apartment Association, which represents the apartment industry in 12 counties around Tampa Bay, I note your editorial said that “almost 800,000 new renter households came to Florida from 2000 to 2017.” This highlights the increased demand for apartment homes but misses that supply hasn’t kept pace with this demand. According to the Florida Apartment Association’s (FAA) Housing Affordability Toolkit, about 48,000 apartment homes need to be built statewide each year to meet demand, but in 2018 only 40,000 were constructed; in 2017, just 32,000. Previous years saw even lower numbers, and the toolkit highlights multiple factors that have contributed to this. Land costs are up 76 percent since 2000. Construction costs are up 24 percent since 2004.

The steady rise of taxes and fees add to the cost of building and operating apartment homes. Together, these are formidable hurdles for apartment developers to attract the investors they need to build market-rate apartments, let alone much-needed affordable apartment homes offered at below-market rate.

To secure a greater supply of affordable housing that we all want, elected officials should work with developers to bridge the financing gap. As suggested in the editorial, providing city land at a discount is a good step — this lowers one of biggest upfront costs. Other key actions include waving impact fees, mobility fees, and non-ad valorem taxes, which, according to the toolkit, are the most effective methods for driving new development. Local government also should avoid further mandates on apartment homes that add mountains of paperwork, burdensome bureaucracy, and increased legal risks that drive up costs. Lastly, everyone should support full funding of the state’s Sadowski trust fund; while not a silver bullet, our present-day challenges would be less if the $2 billion diverted from that fund over the last several years had been spent on affordable housing, as it was intended.

Christopher Kobach, Riverview

Sailing into history

Pearl Harbor

In this photo from Dec. 7, 1941, smoke rises from the battleship USS Arizona as it sinks during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. [AP]

My brother has a Pearl Harbor memory. It was very emotional for him slowly sailing into the entrance to Pearl Harbor on board the USS Corson AVP-37 in 1953. The first sign that you saw on land was one telling you that your ship was being demagnetized. That was so the ship didn’t drag any magnetic mine that may be clinging to the ship’s hull into the harbor. As crew stood at parade rest at the railing, they sailed past all of these rusted-out hulls of small boats that were just sitting there, resting on the bottom of the harbor out of the way of the shipping channel. His ship’s main deck was about 20 feet from the water, so it felt very close as they passed by. Going into the harbor farther, they passed still more ships that were lying along the side of the channel sunken but still very visible. Then came the larger sunken ships, including the USS Arizona with its smokestacks barely under water and with globs of oil still coming to the surface every once in awhile after all those years. He thought of all the sailors who still remain on board these ships forever at the bottom of the harbor. The ship’s crew remained very quiet for the longest time as they continued in and tied up at the dock. He experienced this three times in his Navy travels.

Ruth Bragg, Tampa

A turkey of a birthday

Here’s to the holiday birthday babies | Column, Nov. 29

I loved Mary Schmich’s column about those of us who have the misfortune of being born close to Thanksgiving or Christmas. We rarely get our own birthday celebration. Even now in my twilight years my son and daughter-in-law celebrate with me on Thanksgiving Day. When I was very young I sincerely believed that my birthday was Thanksgiving Day. At the end of every family Thanksgiving dinner all the relatives started singing Happy Birthday while someone brought out a pumpkin pie with a candle in it.

It was when I was in the first grade that Sister Mary Severity disabused me of my alleged Thanksgiving birthday. She sent me home with a note to my mother requiring my “correct” birth date. Nothing much changed. I still get my celebration on Thanksgiving Day. I get key lime pie instead of cake. It works for me! I am grateful every year for my still having family and friends and birthdays on Thanksgiving.

May Mackenzie, Pinellas Park

Pray for the rest of us

A historic course | Dec. 6

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi [J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE | AP]

In response to a reporter asking her if she hated President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that her religious beliefs prohibited her from hating anyone. Moreover, as she has said several times in the past, Pelosi said she prays for the president. After almost three years in office, however, it has become abundantly clear that Donald Trump is impervious to all entreaties that do not include servile adulation of him. Pelosi’s prayers would more efficaciously be directed at those who voted for Trump in 2016 so that they come to realize they have been betrayed by his self-serving acts and policies ever since.

Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center

The mayor was right

Mayor kills Rays’ Montreal sharing plan | Dec. 5

Tropicana Field [CHRIS URSO | Times]

Kudos to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman for standing up to the Tampa Bay Rays and saying no. The Rays should be held to a contract they willingly signed to play baseball here until 2027. When you sign a contract, you honor a contract.

Barry Koestler, St. Petersburg

A matter of time and place

Mayor kills Rays’ Montreal sharing plan | Dec. 5

It’s a matter of time before the Rays have had enough of empty seats. It’s a matter of time getting to Tropicana Field. For example, from Hudson to the Trop is 55 miles. From Hudson to the Florida State Fairgrounds is 28 miles. From Orlando to the Trop is 105 miles. From Orlando to the fairgrounds is 95 miles. It’s a matter of time to have a Trop-style stadium sitting at the intersection of two major interstates. It could become an entertainment complex with the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. I bet the Seminoles might even kick in a couple dollars to have all those fans close to their casino.

Bob Biddle, Hudson

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