Affordable housing bill advances without Nashville chamber support

Metro Council

Metro Council

A bill that could lead to a zoning policy that mandates affordable and workforce housing advanced Tuesday night at Metro Council, despite pressure from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce to indefinitely defer the legislation.

The ordinance passed a second reading with 27 votes. If it passes a final reading, the legislation would require Metro Planning to submit a proposal to Metro Council within 180 days.

The ordinance sought to introduce inclusionary zoning that required at least 14% of units to qualify as affordable and/or workforce housing. An amendment attached Tuesday softens that language, setting 14% as a goal to guide planning’s policy, not a mandate.

“People felt that the moment my legislation got approved, it would have to automatically create 14% affordable housing,” said Councilmember Fabian Bedne, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “We wanted to clarify it’s a goal not a mandate, and a goal the Planning Department would use to develop legislation.”
On Monday of this week, the chamber sent a letter to members of Metro Council that lobbied to have the bill deferred indefinitely, favoring instead a bill that sought a more comprehensive study of the affordable housing issue. Opponents question whether inclusionary zoning is the best approach to solve Nashville’s affordable housing issue.

Council member Anthony Davis, who also sponsored Tuesday’s ordinance, said he wouldn’t be surprised if more amendments were added to the final ordinance that might bring more consensus on the bill.

“I think inclusionary zoning is part of the solution. But we do need a multi-pronged plan,” he said. “I understand where the chamber was coming from and we will tweak it on third reading, but we do want to move forward with charging the planning department to include inclusionary zoning.”

Davis also supports density bonuses in exchange for affordable units, and is seeking to roll out such a plan in his district in East Nashville.