Affordable Housing Crisis Addressed at Santa Rosa County Workshop

Posted on May 9, 2023 by Romi White

More than 50 local business leaders and affordable housing advocates showed up during Monday’s Land Development Code workshop, wearing red “Stand Up for Housing” shirts in solidarity against proposed LDC changes they say will compound the local affordable housing crisis. Photo by Romi White.

Affordable housing was the hot topics during Santa Rosa County’s May 8 Land Development Code workshop. The county is currently updating its governing document for development, and proposed changes, expected for a commission vote in June, are attracting opposition.

More than 50 local business leaders and affordable housing advocates showed up in force at Monday’s workshop, wearing red “Stand Up for Housing” shirts to address the local affordable housing crisis, which they say would be further compounded by the latest round of proposed LDC changes.

A 2021 revision to the LDC created roughly $17,000 more in costs, per the Home Builders Association of West Florida, which estimates the proposed 2023 updates would further increase costs to nearly $40,000.

Cindy Cotton, a 35-year local realtor and long-time member of Santa Rosa County’s State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP), said she works with many first-time buyers. Cotton stated there is already a $55,000 gap between the current price for which median-income buyers can qualify and Santa Rosa County’s ($289,900) median home.

“We already have an affordable housing crisis in addition to the record inflation and out of control insurance,” Navarre Area Board of Realtors President Amy Mullins told South Santa Rosa News. “Adding additional layers of bureaucracy to the development process will increase new housing costs and consequently serve to further inflate the housing market.”

But not everyone agreed.

Some environmental activists spoke in favor of increased local government regulation, such as tighter restrictions for horse owners.

“Clear cutting and ‘fill and build’ development are the root of all evil,” said Dara Lynn Hartigan, president of Save Our Soundside. Carmen Reynolds of Preserve Navarre, who spoke on behalf of a watershed protection committee, said she does not want to see septic tanks in subdivisions with more than 50 homes.

County Attorney Tom Dannheisser said a vote on proposed changes to the LDC could possibly take place in June.

Other proposed LDC changes include but are not limited to eliminating a 2,500-foot buffer between establishments on U.S. 98 which serve liquor and schools/churches and aligning engineered stormwater plans with Northwest Florida Water Management District. To view a complete list of all proposed changes visit: