One of the key arguments for building a light rail system in Pinellas County is that it would kick start urban renewal. People could live closer together, walk to buy their morning coffee and take the train to work.
But for any of that to happen, the county's antiquated land use and zoning policies need to be rewritten, a process county officials have already begun.Of course, tied to light rail, and transit oriented development... although they never use those words.
Pinellas is already the most densely populated county in Florida, with only about 6% open, undeveloped space. But apparently its not dense enough. Not dense enough to to make light rail feasible. But they have a plan for that!
Developers would be encouraged to build commercial properties next door to or on the ground floor of residential buildings. New buildings could sit closer to the street instead of placing vast parking lots between their front doors and foot traffic. And, if commissioners approve, the county might increase the number of units allowed per acre.Oh joy! You too can have an $200/sq foot condo conveniently located above a tiki bar open until 3am, next to a train stop running until 3am. Talk a about a premium location!
Some folks may want to live that way. Many more will not.
So let's get this right. They want to cram more people into the already densest populated county in the state, develop and redevelop more, to the benefit of developers, waste more money for ineffective transit that few will ride, and will be subsidized by the taxpayers forever, under the mission of transit oriented development and light rail.