TOD - Tampa Oriented Development
Transit Oriented Development, or TOD as it is often referred, is made out to be the nirvana of environmentalism and the magic road to prosperity.
However, in Hillsborough County the only “green” that will be created will be going into the pockets of Tampa city consultants, landowners and developers.
Prosperity will also come primarily at the expense of unincorporated Hillsborough County.
TOD is about increasing property values in Tampa, not transportation.
TOD is about Tampa Oriented Development.
A September 10, 2010 letter to David Armijo, CEO of Hillsborough Areas Regional Transit (HART) from Ray Chiaramonte, Director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) gives TOD as the number one reason to approve light-rail transit for Tampa.
MPO directed a consultant to come back with a report on TOD potential within the two selected transit corridors. The resulting August 2009 Report says:
“In a review of studies regarding the economic impacts of existing transit systems, ERA found that rail has a positive impact on property values within one-quarter mile of stations. The degree of price premiums (in land and real estate) varies by land use and station location relative to the central city.”
So, what does that mean for those of us south and east of Tampa?
It means that we all will be paying higher taxes to make Tampa more attractive for residential, business, education and health services development.
Higher taxes will certainly come from the proposed sales tax increase. Higher taxes will also come as a result of tax incentives given to developers within the Tampa rail corridors. We will pay for county services to these developers, while they get a free ride on County taxes.
The County has made all of its plans centered around making it harder, more inconvenient and more expensive to live outside of Tampa.
By putting all the future job growth in Tampa, everyone living in the rest of Hillsborough will have to commute to jobs in Tampa.
So, what is the County’s TOD plan for the rest of Hillsborough to get to jobs in Tampa?
The same bus system that they do not want for Tampa because they don’t think anyone there will want to ride them. But it is OK for those living outside of Tampa to ride buses?
There is nothing wrong with Plain Old Bus (POB) transit. It can be just as safe and convenient as rail, and POB is a WHOLE lot cheaper. Energy efficient bus transit can produce less pollutants than electric trains that get power from coal-fired TECO on Big Bend Road. This remains one of the worst offending electric power plants in the nation.
What about driving to Tampa from outlying areas of Hillsborough? Congestion will not improve for us, it will only get worse. South Hillsborough County is slated to be the fastest growing area of the county, once we start recovering from the recession. We are not part of any “Transit Oriented Development” plan, regardless of the number of people living here or how many square feet of commercial/light industrial space has already been approved here.
Private enterprise bought and made ready for development in Ruskin, four and one-half MILLION square feet of space that would employ 20,000 of our neighbors. If The County were really interested in getting cars off the road, they would move heaven and earth to get that space filled. Instead? They plan to build new space in Tampa and fill that space with new jobs that we will have to commute to get to.
Let the taxpayers of Tampa pay for Tampa Oriented Development.
<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen