New projections from University of Florida's GeoPlan Center for 1000 Friends have come out for Central Florida:
'The state's population will double to 36 million by 2060, and if growth management policies don't change, 7 million of the state's 19.5 million remaining undeveloped acres will go urban.'
Other components of the forecast:
'• Continuous urban development from Ocala on the north to Sebring on the south, and coast to coast from St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach. The corridors of interstates 75 and 4 will be fully developed.
• Full build-out of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and several other central counties.
• Replacement, or at least fragmentation, of virtually all of the area's natural systems and wildlife habitat corridors.
• The largest percentage of urban land use - 51 percent - of any region in the state. More than a quarter of the region will be transformed to urban status in the next generation.'
What does all this forecast growth mean?
'Unchecked growth presents several threats to the state, according to the study. Crowded schools, traffic congestion, inadequate disaster preparedness and infringement on natural habitat and land that has cultural, environmental or historical significance can deteriorate the quality of life of residents. It could put the brakes on the state's phenomenal job growth, particularly with the "creative class" so highly sought.
"This piece of work is saying, 'We can see the future, and it's not what we hope it will be,'" said Tim Jackson, 1000 Friends' vice president. "Let's rethink this and start by doing a real plan for the long-term future."
Some potential solutions?
'• Expansion of the Florida Forever land acquisition program, to the tune of $1 billion a year from the $300 million now budgeted for conservation.
• New policies on the conversion of rural land to urban use, requiring more preservation, open space and agriculture.
• A 100-year legacy plan, a sort of statewide comprehensive plan laying out what areas are appropriate for development and redevelopment.
• Identification of leaders to organize and advocate for statewide growth management.
Officials from 1000 Friends said they will convene state leaders next year on long-term state planning. The group also is working on a 2060 scenario if projected growth and development patterns follow principles of smart growth.'
But, ney, the DEVELOPERS (and their paid-for lackeys who "represent" us in Tallahassee) have other ideas (that will ensure their pockets are lined for decades to come). Remember! Construction is the #2 industry in Florida. If we don't stop building, we die. Ha!
'The Legislature may not be quick to embrace the recommendations.
An extensive growth management package passed in 2005 now requires concurrency from developers, or pay-as-you-go for infrastructure needs such as roads and schools. The legislation also committed billions of dollars in state money toward road projects and other transportation needs.
And the Florida Forever program - successor to the original Preservation 2000 program - does not expire until 2010.
Lawmakers on Wednesday suggested it might be premature to tinker with growth management policies.
"I commend 1000 Friends of Florida for being visionary and getting out in front and talking about the next program," said state Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, head of his chamber's Agriculture and Environment Appropriations Committee. "But it's important to take stock and realize where we are in our overall conservation efforts."
Mayfield's compatriot on the Senate side, Republican Dan Webster of Orlando, said he wants to examine the progress of the 2005 legislation before digging in again. "We're not done with what we started," he said. However, "We haven't stopped evaluating what we did. We're not closed to ideas that would say, 'Here's a better way to do it.'"'
So, maybe all this overpriced housing is a good thing? Maybe the "tax thy new neighbor" policy is a good thing? Maybe the insurance crisis is a good thing? Maybe...?