Panama City Alters Housing Code to Allow Manufactured Homes

Panama City Housing Code
A new manufactured home from Clayton with residential design features now permitted in R1 and mixed-use districts of Panama City, Fla.

Legal Battle Results in Greater Access for Factory-Built Housing

Panama city housing code
FMHA Executive Director Jim Ayotte.

Panama City, Fla., voted recently to change its residential zoning code to allow “Residential Design Manufactured Housing” into all areas zoned for residential and mixed-use.

The Panama City Commission voted unanimously to approve the measure following months of legal maneuvering by the Florida Manufactured Housing Association and its attorneys.

Panama City Includes ‘Residential Design Manufactured Homes’ in New Single-Family Housing Code for All Districts Zone for Residential and Mixed-Use

“On June 23, the city commission unanimously approved Ordinance 2740, which defines a Residential Design Manufactured Home as a home complying with the Fannie Mae MH Advantage™ or Freddie Mac CHOICEHome® mortgage program,” FMHA Executive Director Jim Ayotte said in a statement.

The conflict began, Ayotte said, last September when FMHA notified Panama City officials that it believed the land-use code, which prohibited manufactured homes in residential districts, was discriminatory and in violation of Florida law.

The notification and request for a change was accompanied by a records request to help document the case. City officials acknowledged during a November meeting with FMHA that the city land-use code might have been discriminatory. At the time, however, the city made no discernable effort to change the code.

Florida Association Files Complaint Against Municipality

FMHA then filed a lawsuit against the city for violating the state’s public records law.

The city acknowledged it failed to comply, which provided FMHA an opportunity to attempt a negotiated settlement to avoid further litigation.

As part of the proposed settlement, FMHA requested the city to amend its land use code to allow Residential Design Manufactured Homes in residential and mixed-use districts.

Ayotte said the FMHA is preparing to meet with the city’s community development director to discuss potential opportunities for a home demonstration project.

“A demonstration project will help educate the public and neighboring government officials about the attractive, quality, and affordable workforce housing available through the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac manufactured home mortgage programs,” Ayotte said.