Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where will next 600,000 live?

The University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research forecasts another 600,000 new residents in Hillsborough county by between now and 2040. We've reviewed these estimates in the past, and find them feasible, since about 600,000 people moved to Hillsborough in the last 25 years.

Hillsborough and Tampa Growth 1980 - 2040
Where did the most recent 600,000 people who moved into Hillsborough end up?

Let's start where they did NOT go in the last 25 years.

By comparing the UF BEBR forecasts for Hillsborough with city of Tampa census data, most new residents in the last 25 years did not move into the city of Tampa. From 1980 to 2010, Hillsborough grew by 582,000, while during the same timespan, Tampa grew by only 76,000, most of which occurred in New Tampa, which Tampa annexed in 1988.

Is there any reason to assume the next 600,000 residents will do much different over the next 25 years?

There is nothing to indicate any changes in the demographics of the incoming residents. Some politicians state we must attract millennials, as if fresh out of college kids are our future. By the time any schemes claiming to attract millennials are started, much less completed, they will be well on their way to middle age and will have a much different set of priorities.

Can land use and zoning policies affect where people will reside?

There's been no meaningful change in any zoning, land use, urban growth boundaries, etc. in Tampa or in Hillsborough County.

Yet, if you listen to anti-sprawlers, we can't allow more sprawl! These new residents must abide and live where we want them to live! If we can't disperse with sprawl, what is their alternative?

Tampa's 2013 population 346,000, so to add 600,000 people in Tampa, the population will nearly triple.

Where in Tampa will they live and work?

Downtown has experienced some great residential growth in the last few years, where there are now around 6,000 to 8,000 thousand residents, maybe up to 10,000 soon.

590,000 to go! Come on in.

Anti-sprawlers don't have a solution.

As a simple word problem, how many Residences on the Riverwalk towers will it take to house 600,000 new residents? The tower will be home to approximately 550 residents.

If you do the 4th grade math (not common core math), you'll find we need about 1091 new towers to be built, or one about every 8.3 days for the next 25 years. We can start building in downtown Tampa, build one about every block up I-275 and I-75 to Micanopy.

We better start now.

By the way, the Residence on the Riverwalk was approved about year ago and has yet to break ground.

Obviously not all these 600,000 will choose to be stacked and packed in a series of 36 story towers to be built every week.

Anti-sprawlers have ruled out dispersing a substantial portion of 600,000 into more of the hundreds of square miles of unincorporated Hillsborough.

Can the anti-sprawlers find space in Tampa?

Where in Tampa? Tampa is already pretty dense and pretty well built out in the city limits.

Anti-sprawlers will need to greatly increase the residential density in Tampa to make room.

Tampa will have to change zoning and residential density laws, and promote massive and denser redevelopment.

Sulfur Springs, Town and Country, Palma Ceia, Seminole Heights, Forest Hills, Hyde Park...

Which neighborhoods will retain their current qualities of life? Which ones will be rezoned to much denser land use?

Will Hillsborough invalidate Community Plans that inhibit development and densification in many communities throughout the county and impact the residents chosen qualify of life?

We've seen change already around the Westshore district, which has experienced business and residential growth and increased density. This has resulted in increased congestion and traffic in the established residential neighborhoods, such that the local residents have expressed concerned about their property values. 

These 600,000 new residents are the elephant(s?) in the room that our local leaders are ignoring in the transportation discussions. The current “plans” such as they are make little mention where these new people will reside and work.

But we may have 10 miles of light rail between the airport and downtown by 2040!

Here's another 4th grade word problem. If HART triples its ridership over the next 25 years, how many of those 600,000 new residents will ride transit? How many will still ride in their cars?

HART riders are less than 2% of the current residents in Hillsborough. Triple that to 6%, and we get 36,000 new HART riders from the 600,000.

We will still have 564,000 new residents on the roads every day.

Bonus question. How many transit agencies in the last 25 years have tripled their ridership?

That's a trick question.

No transit agency has tripled ridership in the last 25 years.

Time to introduce some reality.

Reality is the next 600,000 residents, should they actually arrive, will largely go where they have in the past 25 years, into unincorporated Hillsborough County. They will most likely move into the South and East part of the county. We should acknowledge that, and build that into our plans.

Yet there is no aspect to the plan that addresses substantial growth further out in the county.

By the way, another 200,000 residents are expected mostly in southern Pasco. Many of them will regularly commute into Tampa and Hillsborough County. 

We'll need roads. Not just improving and fixing our current roads, which absolutely must be fixed. We'll need brand new roads and major commuting arteries.

New roads won't be cheap either, and proposing a new road will likely be caught up in lawsuits, "not in my back yard" protests, and environmentalists saving a spotted snail.

The only way anti-sprawlers can avoid sprawl is for Hillsborough County and city of Tampa to aggressively rezone and force new highly restrictive growth boundaries. This will impact and displace large amounts of the current population currently residing in the unfortunate rezoned areas.

This massive rezoning won't be cheap, and will also likely be subject to rounds of lawsuits further driving up the costs.

Ask the residents of of established neighborhoods Seminole Heights, Sulfur Springs, Wellswood, Town and Country, Hyde Park, Palma Ceia, when they are ready to move out to make room for the new folks.

If they want to stay where they live, ask them if they want to live surrounded by a few 35 story towers each with 550 of their new friends.

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