Date: October 2013
Location: Pasco County, Florida
Sponsors: Pasco County and the Pasco Economic Development Council
Subject area: Economic growth and development, metropolitan and regional strategies
Background: 2008 ULI Panel
From 2000 to 2006, Pasco County experienced unprecedented levels of growth, primarily in the residential sector. Since then, growth stagnated, unemployment climbed above state averages, and the property tax base eroded by nearly $9 billion, or 25 percent. In 2008, Pasco County recognized the changing conditions of the economy and the need to increase employment in the county to provide a balanced long-term mix of uses, a healthier tax base, and a more efficient transportation system.
Pasco County and the Pasco Economic Development Council jointly funded an Advisory Services panel from the Urban Land Institute to help identify the concerns the county faced from the recent period of high growth. They also asked the panel to suggest alternative organizational structures and processes that would make the development process more efficient.
The panel highlighted two broad themes: economic development and smart land use, and county organization. The success and execution of economic development and land use were dependent on the implementation of new county organization.
The panel issued a full report with a comprehensive set of recommendations, including the creation of market areas with their own vision, mission, and strategies, and the improvement of the organizational structure, codes and standards, decision processes, and customer service. The panel also recommended transforming the development services branch into one that focused on long-term strategic decisions just as often as it focused on short-term decisions. The panel recognized that a new, consolidated, and well-organized development code needed to be created as a guide for all new development and redevelopment activity in the county.
2013 Panel Assignment and Recommendations
Pasco County and the Pasco Economic Development Council invited the Urban Land Institute back to help evaluate progress since the 2008 panel visit and to look at what’s next as the county implements the Board of County Commissioners’ strategic plan and economic development plan.
ULI assembled an Advisory Services panel composed of volunteers who are experts in economic development, land use, real estate development, and the public and private sectors. The panelists engaged in a five-day process to produce a series of preliminary recommendations that will be expanded in an upcoming report.
The initial recommendations include the following:
- Given that approved growth far exceeds market demand, the county should channel development into urban service areas and areas served by transit to increase value.
- Create an open space and agriculture preservation trust and use Penny for Pasco funding to acquire development rights to create ecological linkages from the Gulf of Mexico to the Green Swamp, and to foster agricultural uses.
- Work to create a Tampa Bay regional metropolitan planning organization to plan and fund transportation.
- Focus economic development on the medical sector and workforce development.
- Focus development efforts on Route 19 and Route 54.
- Complete the process for plan approval that leads to construction in order to generate a transparent and competitive business cycle.
- Maintain consistency on implementing the vision and create market area planning commissions.
- Change the allocation in redevelopment to fund land assembly, enact a five-cent gas tax, and raise the room tax with explicit and clear expenditure programs for parks, culture, libraries, and eco-tourism.
Additional details about these recommendations can be found in the October presentation. A full report is anticipated to be available within 90 days following the initial recommendations.