Regional Planning Councils Address Florida Growth Strategies

, Daily Business Review

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Victor Dover
Victor Dover

"We could also be smarter about parking," Dover said. "Typical zoning, which may have been adopted in the 1950s, requires too much parking. But it's a huge impediment to affordable housing, especially as land gets more expensive. Local governments can choose to update their zoning codes. The ones that do are going to be the most competitive."

It's also likely to reward developers interested in creating "walkable downtowns" designed with easy access to grocery stores, restaurants and amenities to attract pedestrians.

That idea is already in play in some of the region's most affluent cities. Downtown Coral Gables, for instance, has abundant retail and dining options, plus an efficient trolley to reduce traffic congestion, Coleman said.

"In terms of the building environment, how land use is done and how we merge these live-work-play communities, the downtown areas in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm are showing us how to do this in sustainable ways," she said.

Planners say cities that follow suit will likely attract the kind of real estate development that creates jobs and boosts tax revenue for local governments.

"Instead of starting with things we could spend money on, we started by looking at ways to add real estate value," Dover said. "It's a complex recipe for a happier region but one that's worth the effort."

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