Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Florida state planning agency (was: The market has spoken)

  1. #1
         
    Registered
    Jul 2005
    Location
    othersideofcubicle
    Posts
    10

    Florida state planning agency (was: The market has spoken)

    There have been a few posts made criticizing the role of State Planning Agencies in land use planning and their effectiveness in implementing Smart Growth Statewide. The underlying axiom in the profession describes local governments being on ground zero and consequenly having a better idea of implementation of a community vision as depicted in the comprehensive plan. Based on the headlines and articles that are continuing to inundate the mainstream describing the lack of workforce housing, I would argue that local governments give ground to the 'market' and spend too much time focusing on compliance with development ordinance guidelines rather than ensuring the housing needs of all the residents are met.

    In Florida, the State Planning Agency is delegated by Chp 163 Pt.II of the F.S. to ensure local municipalities provide housing for residents of all socio-economic categories. Now local governments are starting to demonstrate dissonance with the Department when a land use amendment proposal for a 'market' development is denied based on inadequate demonstration of affordable housing land use amenmdents in addition to the typical 2 du/ac request. Should more States begin to develop a planning model that incorportates a 'Top down approach' whether than bottom up or out? and if so, should SPA be given more statutory enforcement power if local governments fail to comply? This design appears to provide more options for planners at the local level who carry diffidence towards municipalities that aren't doing enough for the workforce community.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    That could be trouble, especially if your state is a lowest common denomentor state. I've seen our legislature do some pretty screwy things with the whole mindset of 'this is how to screw over the conservatives/liberals'.

  3. #3
    Member Wulf9's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Near the Geysers
    Posts
    922
    California has been under this type of state housing tyranny for years. State OPH assigns each city (through a torturous process) a "fair share" of statewide housing needs - including all income levels. Cities have to amend their housing elements every five years to update the fair share and show that they have land for the fair share.

    It hasn't worked for a few reasons. First, cities don't provide housing. The private market does. Second. The private market wants to provide high cost/high profit housing. Third. Residents don't want low cost housing that reduces the value of their high cost housing. Finally. cities are much more clever than the State so the housing doesn't get provided.

    Now, the homebuilders association has written, and the state has adopted, more and more intrusive legislation under the guise of density bonuses for affordable housing. The problem is that the number of affordable units keeps going down (developers want to sell high cost housing) and the density bonuses keep going up. Again, cities are more clever than the state, so most of these impositions are moot.

    Finally, for all this unwarranted intrusion into local government, California has the highest housing prices and a real housing shortage. Obiously, the top down approach doesn't work.

    One of the main reasons it doesn't work is that the state limits the amount of revenue a city can collect from housing (property tax limits). Each house costs more to service than the revenues collected. That's the main reason for the housing shortage, and the solution to costs and shortage should be self-evident to the legislature.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,760
    Florida's DCA needs to grow balls in general, in my opinion. They cave right and left. They have approved so many amendments in my county that are clearly NOT in compliance, due to local pressure. (And I was the planner on these cases at the time). No wonder they haven't given a flying f* about affordable housing; it's not on their radar.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    On the dark side and feeling divine!
    Posts
    202
    I spent most of today at a workshop led by the Florida state planning agency. While the department professes to be taking a more community driven approach to comprehensive planning, this new direction seems to be little more than lip service (Your thoughts, Trail Nazi?). There was quite a lively discussion on the issue of affordable housing. While state goals are laudable, local policies are enacted by elected officials, who big surprise here, answer to the folks who put them in office before the state planning agency. Even bigger surprise, the electorate generally freaks out at the mere mention of affordable housing, nevermind the fact that they probably live in it. My guess is that very few of our state planning officials have had the pleasure of being crucified at a public hearing dealing with density increases that would allow for *gasp* 50x100 lots, nevermind the fact that said planning agency has a habit of crying "sprawl!" when faced with the prospect of increasing density in order to provide additional housing options. This is a very simplified portrayal of the situation, but I hope you get where I'm coming from.

    My opinion on the matter has evolved as follows: While there is definitely a role for a state planning agency, their goals should be much broader. In a state as diverse as Florida, applying the same set of rules across the board really does not make much sense. The state planning agency should deal more with broader planning principles and allow our regional planning agencies to have greater power in the oversight of local government efforts. It seems to me that the better role of the state planning agency is to ensure coordination of regional planning agencies on big picture issues rather than reviewing local governments' FLUM amendments, except as part of the food chain in the appeal process.

    That's my 2 cents.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,740
    As a local government planner in the state I appreciate the role of the DCA and am convinced without a S.P.A. planning in Florida would be a lot more misguided and frustrating than it already is. Though I would also agree with Z.G's point that the agency should "grow a sack".
    I think it is important to note that the affordable housing situation is a relatively new problem in Florida, and we shouldn't expect policy solutions to happen overnight.
    The problem, in my opinion, is not so much the unwillingness of local governments to support affordable housing but a lack of proven models to work with. There is a belief that if we keep building houses the problem will fix itself, but this hasn't proved to work.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,760
    Right now DCA is the only "brake" available when local governments overstep their bounds. They are not doing their job. We can change the law if want more regional participation. But we're not there yet. My beef is that DCA backs down on virtually every controversial decision in this county, and are allowing developer-driven development in state-protected areas. How dumb is that??

  8. #8
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,574
    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    Right now DCA is the only "brake" available when local governments overstep their bounds. They are not doing their job. We can change the law if want more regional participation. But we're not there yet. My beef is that DCA backs down on virtually every controversial decision in this county, and are allowing developer-driven development in state-protected areas. How dumb is that??
    It's cool. DCA kinda ignores us up here on the panhandle. We do what we want (thanks to St. Joe). There attention seems to be toward your direction.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    MKS
    Posts
    2,847
    No one likes to be told what they can and cannot do. It is unfortunate that is has to be done, but it does.

    I have been at the county level and heard the central fla good ole boys scream “G.D. bureaucrats up in Tallahassee think they know what is best for us, this is our county” (on a side note: these commissioner were mostly in the Real Estate / development field for their "day job")

    I think the role of DCA is a good one, and think they do a fine job. I personally think more control would be good, but there is a limit. More control won’t happed under Jeb, we shall see what the future has in store.

    Maybe the “hometown democracy” will take care of all this for us… though I sure hope not.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Intervention
    Posts
    4,475
    The state dropped the ball with SB 360. The state didn't want to be the bad guy, so they pawned off the role onto the local municipalities. Looks like I'll be the bad guy for a while now.

    Oh, they do need to grow some gulls.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    On the dark side and feeling divine!
    Posts
    202
    Having spent 6 years working for a pro-development local government that made some very questionable land use decisions, I absolutely agree that there is a need for checks and balances. I'm starting to think that the regional level is a more appropriate appropriate place for this oversight to occur. SB 360 is a classic case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. While many of its provisions are great in theory, our folks in Tallahassee failed to fully think out the long-term implications. Hard school concurrency, as just one example, is a great thing, however, a catch-22 develops when Dept. of Ed. funding for new schools is only available once schools are over capacity. This issue should have been resolved prior to, or simultaneously with, SB 360.

    I'm too young to be as cynical as I am...

  12. #12
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    205
    Quote Originally posted by plannerkat
    . SB 360 is a classic case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.
    You have that right. All SB 360 seems to have accomplished is require government planners to jump through a lot more hoops (more elements, more updates, more requirements) but we're barely hanging on as it is. Like DCA and many other jurisdictions, we have trouble getting a full staff (I've never seen so many FAPA job listings before!), and our local school board has no concept of concurrency or planning of any type. We don't have an MPO, and SB 360 seemed to steer some of the concerns to the MPOs for resolution. FDOT is still trying to figure out where we are, but concentrates their resources and funding to the metro areas of Tampa, rather than the outlying counties. Impact fees are holding steady, but the makeup of the Century Commission is pretty much a good indicator that those will be rolled back state-wide in the future. DCA seems as perplexed as the rest of us as to how to deal with all of this - affordable housing is a concept that is important (especially to this underpaid government worker!) but noone seems to have the time (or backbone) to address it. I feel as cynical as the rest of you...

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Encroaching on something
    Posts
    2,713
    Since reading this thread last night, I have thought about this issue. I work very closely with DCA and have started to figure them out. DCA is not as bad as people think. Unfortunately, like many of us planners who have worked on the local level, they have had to learn to pick their battles. For some communities in the state, they have been given direction to let those jurisdictions basically do what they want, but for those jurisdictions that could be shaped into better communities with growth (meaning they have been basically untouched from sprawling development), they are being somewhat hard-nosed about. However, with that said, they also have been into a precarious position because of what the legislature has done ----- establishing communities as economically critically concerned, thus, raising the DRI thresholds. The legislature has basically given the developers the “green light” to rape and pillage those areas of the state that are rural in nature and have comprehensive plans that are essentially compliance documents. For example, two of my counties that I work with had a DRI threshold of 250 d.u. but the legislature upped that threshold to two and half times, now making it 625 d.u. What we are seeing are a number of sub-DRIs now. These communities do not have water and sewer lines, adequate roads, and adequate schools. They also do not have the staff to deal with it. I am racing to keep up with this. We are having to educate the elected officials by scaring the daylights out of them by telling them what they need to do to prepare for the slaughtering that they are about to have in their community. Additionally, DCA has played a vital role in helping us say no to these developments because we all know that the legislature is promoting urban sprawl. Again, DCA has to know when to pick their battles. Another example would be that in these two counties that I mentioned you could build a 1 million sq. foot mall in order to be a DRI but over the border in Duval County, it would take only 400,000 square feet for the DRI threshold to be tripped. I would like to thank DCA for actually helping us control sprawl in some of my communities and only wish they were given the power to deny those trashy communities including the mother community in some of their development choices.

    Another point -- the legislature then took it a step further with SB 360 by making those same communities not have the same thresholds for large and small scale land use amendments. Ultimately ruining the communities that are still unique in this state. I have to deal with this daily. Some of the local governments that are in this predicament have started to say that they want to keep the s.s.l.u.a. threshold still at 10 acres rather than 20 acres as the legislature will now allow. From a processing standpoint, I would much rather have those communities remain at 10 acres as well.

    Regionalism is a great thing, but it will take some major education of those elected officials to let them know how they are destroying other communities in their quest to be the best in the area. (Plannerkat definitely knows the communities that I am talking about here – PK worked for one of the communities that is on the ignore list) I deal with regionalism everyday and I think for those communities that I work in we are trying to make it work to the best advantage. However, until we educate those bigger decision makers about their choices and the good and bad consequences of their decisions, we are going to have an uphill battle.

    After having worked in a state that does not have enabling legislature for their communities, I was thrilled to come back to Florida. There was nothing that I liked about their comprehensive planning process particularly because I had to relearn everything that I knew.

    When it comes to affordable or “workforce” housing, I hate to be the skeptic here, but until the land prices are driven up and we really can’t afford to live, work, play in our community, affordable housing will not be provided. Also, no one ever expected the land prices to escalate so much that the cost of living can not keep up. I feel very fortunate that I just helped one of my communities pass a Mixed Use District that provides for a density bonus for workforce housing. Although it is a density bonus program, it at least gets it out there. I think the only way that I was able to pass this is because we have been educating the elected officials about the costs of development. In a recent study done by Tall Timbers, they recognized Grady County, Georgia, as a community that has a low cost of living and could easily become a bedroom community to Tallahassee. In this study, they found that for every dollar ($1) of revenue brought into the government, the government then spends $1.72 for each conventional single family dwelling and the price then escalates to $3.85 for mobile homes. This scared my community because they are almost capped at their millage rate. This community only has a population of 24,000 people, so you can only imagine how much money is going out in expeditures to these residents since mobile homes are seen as the only viable affordable housing. Remind you, there is no water/sewer.

    This is truly a sad state of affairs because I believe that those comp plans that we originally had to do were compliance documents for the requirements of Ch. 163 and they were not innovative. However, I think with this round of EARs, we can be innovative as planners, but again we must educate the elected officials, kick some planning directors out of office that perpetuate the problem, and EDUCATE the public about good planning practices. Remember, all they know is conventional subdivision (bedroom community) design. They do not know all the great planning techniques like we do.

    I would just like for the legislature to stop adopting policies that have horrible repercussions such as what they have done in the past. There is definitely a need for a state planning agency, but they need to be able to do their jobs evenly and across the board and not have the interference from certain elected officials who are being told what to do by big developers. This has already been the case when it comes to DCA.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    No Where Man
    Posts
    1,519
    Quote Originally posted by solarstar
    You have that right. All SB 360 seems to have accomplished is require government planners to jump through a lot more hoops (more elements, more updates, more requirements) but we're barely hanging on as it is. Like DCA and many other jurisdictions, we have trouble getting a full staff (I've never seen so many FAPA job listings before!), and our local school board has no concept of concurrency or planning of any type. We don't have an MPO, and SB 360 seemed to steer some of the concerns to the MPOs for resolution. FDOT is still trying to figure out where we are, but concentrates their resources and funding to the metro areas of Tampa, rather than the outlying counties. Impact fees are holding steady, but the makeup of the Century Commission is pretty much a good indicator that those will be rolled back state-wide in the future. DCA seems as perplexed as the rest of us as to how to deal with all of this - affordable housing is a concept that is important (especially to this underpaid government worker!) but noone seems to have the time (or backbone) to address it. I feel as cynical as the rest of you...
    You said it better than I could have.
    You darn tootin', I like fig newtons!

  15. #15
         
    Registered
    Jul 2005
    Location
    othersideofcubicle
    Posts
    10
    Quote Originally posted by Trail Nazi
    Since reading this thread last night, I have thought about this issue. I work very closely with DCA and have started to figure them out. DCA is not as bad as people think. Unfortunately, like many of us planners who have worked on the local level, they have had to learn to pick their battles. For some communities in the state, they have been given direction to let those jurisdictions basically do what they want, but for those jurisdictions that could be shaped into better communities with growth (meaning they have been basically untouched from sprawling development), they are being somewhat hard-nosed about. However, with that said, they also have been into a precarious position because of what the legislature has done ----- establishing communities as economically critically concerned, thus, raising the DRI thresholds. The legislature has basically given the developers the “green light” to rape and pillage those areas of the state that are rural in nature and have comprehensive plans that are essentially compliance documents. For example, two of my counties that I work with had a DRI threshold of 250 d.u. but the legislature upped that threshold to two and half times, now making it 625 d.u. What we are seeing are a number of sub-DRIs now. These communities do not have water and sewer lines, adequate roads, and adequate schools. They also do not have the staff to deal with it. I am racing to keep up with this. We are having to educate the elected officials by scaring the daylights out of them by telling them what they need to do to prepare for the slaughtering that they are about to have in their community. Additionally, DCA has played a vital role in helping us say no to these developments because we all know that the legislature is promoting urban sprawl. Again, DCA has to know when to pick their battles. Another example would be that in these two counties that I mentioned you could build a 1 million sq. foot mall in order to be a DRI but over the border in Duval County, it would take only 400,000 square feet for the DRI threshold to be tripped. I would like to thank DCA for actually helping us control sprawl in some of my communities and only wish they were given the power to deny those trashy communities including the mother community in some of their development choices.

    Another point -- the legislature then took it a step further with SB 360 by making those same communities not have the same thresholds for large and small scale land use amendments. Ultimately ruining the communities that are still unique in this state. I have to deal with this daily. Some of the local governments that are in this predicament have started to say that they want to keep the s.s.l.u.a. threshold still at 10 acres rather than 20 acres as the legislature will now allow. From a processing standpoint, I would much rather have those communities remain at 10 acres as well.

    Regionalism is a great thing, but it will take some major education of those elected officials to let them know how they are destroying other communities in their quest to be the best in the area. (Plannerkat definitely knows the communities that I am talking about here – PK worked for one of the communities that is on the ignore list) I deal with regionalism everyday and I think for those communities that I work in we are trying to make it work to the best advantage. However, until we educate those bigger decision makers about their choices and the good and bad consequences of their decisions, we are going to have an uphill battle.

    After having worked in a state that does not have enabling legislature for their communities, I was thrilled to come back to Florida. There was nothing that I liked about their comprehensive planning process particularly because I had to relearn everything that I knew.

    When it comes to affordable or “workforce” housing, I hate to be the skeptic here, but until the land prices are driven up and we really can’t afford to live, work, play in our community, affordable housing will not be provided. Also, no one ever expected the land prices to escalate so much that the cost of living can not keep up. I feel very fortunate that I just helped one of my communities pass a Mixed Use District that provides for a density bonus for workforce housing. Although it is a density bonus program, it at least gets it out there. I think the only way that I was able to pass this is because we have been educating the elected officials about the costs of development. In a recent study done by Tall Timbers, they recognized Grady County, Georgia, as a community that has a low cost of living and could easily become a bedroom community to Tallahassee. In this study, they found that for every dollar ($1) of revenue brought into the government, the government then spends $1.72 for each conventional single family dwelling and the price then escalates to $3.85 for mobile homes. This scared my community because they are almost capped at their millage rate. This community only has a population of 24,000 people, so you can only imagine how much money is going out in expeditures to these residents since mobile homes are seen as the only viable affordable housing. Remind you, there is no water/sewer.

    This is truly a sad state of affairs because I believe that those comp plans that we originally had to do were compliance documents for the requirements of Ch. 163 and they were not innovative. However, I think with this round of EARs, we can be innovative as planners, but again we must educate the elected officials, kick some planning directors out of office that perpetuate the problem, and EDUCATE the public about good planning practices. Remember, all they know is conventional subdivision (bedroom community) design. They do not know all the great planning techniques like we do.

    I would just like for the legislature to stop adopting policies that have horrible repercussions such as what they have done in the past. There is definitely a need for a state planning agency, but they need to be able to do their jobs evenly and across the board and not have the interference from certain elected officials who are being told what to do by big developers. This has already been the case when it comes to DCA.
    I must say, that was comprehensive and in some strange way succinct. SB 360 could be viewed as an enhancement of chp 163 but marginally. There are some underlying requirements that will eventually mandate the use of 'state of the art' planning techniques that we learn. For example, the short term goal of the Department is to educate and train RPCs' and local governments that have the staff capacity to use a Fiscal Impact Analysis Model (FIAM) as a tool for determining financial feasility of a short or long range Capital Improvements Element of the plan. Theoretically, this should translate into less single use land classifications that burden public services, I am skeptical but hopeful.

    As for 'workforce' housing, It's hard to imagine Gov. Bush, Senate Leader Tom Lee, and House Speaker Allen Bense, all of whom are developers, not being able to foresee the perfect market of retirees and boomers in transition while turning a deaf ear towards those stuck in the traditional non-basic, low wage sector. Fact is, we've reached the point to where a lot of citizens can't afford to live, work, and play in their community. In addition, those who thought they were able to continue to live (rent), work, and play are now being given deadlines to move as developers continue to transition old apartment housing into spec properties. I do respect and appreciate DCA for their purpose of existence, but when a chief planning administrator is terminated due to 'ostensibly' approving a ST.JOE project, you grow a little more skeptical towards their ability to actually help foster Regionalism. A State agency inclusive model of comprehensive planning is as effective as the agenda of the Executive cabinet in Florida. However, I do believe that when the agenda favors sustainability over pavement, the model can be highly effective.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 23
    Last post: 01 May 2013, 2:57 PM
  2. Replies: 3
    Last post: 19 Aug 2009, 7:24 PM
  3. Replies: 9
    Last post: 06 Dec 2006, 3:02 AM
  4. how do I contact a state agency about a job?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 11 Apr 2006, 1:03 PM
  5. I'm off to Florida State!
    Student Commons
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 14 Apr 2005, 2:06 AM