Tampa leaders gather input from residents on the city's future on climate preparedness, development

Projects are in the works that will impact how residents get around the City of Tampa, where new growth and development will occur, and how to be more prepared for climate change and major storms. City leaders want help from residents in shaping this future. 

The first of three town hall meetings was held Tuesday night. Multiple city departments came together, so people could weigh in on major planning initiatives that will shape land use, housing and transportation, and climate preparedness.

About 50 people came out to give their feedback, including Stephanie Poyner.

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"Right now, we're standing in a coastal high-hazard area," she said. "Had Ian hit here, we probably would have been standing at least knee-deep in water."

Poynor has been very vocal about her concerns with the development happening in the area South of Gandy and said Hurricane Ian has been a wake-up call that things need to be improved.

"If and when it does happen, I think it's a when we're going to have a real issue with people being stuck down here," Poynor said.

At least 10 different city departments were on hand to get those thoughts from folks, trying to understand the needs of the community over the next few decades.

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"Our transportation problems aren't going away, our position here on the coastline isn't going away, our warming climate isn't going away," said Tampa Sustainability and Resiliency Officer Whit Remer. "So we're here to really put forward concrete, real recommendations that we can act on."

He said the city has been working over the last year to develop ideas and plans to address some vulnerabilities. The Climate Action & Equity Plan is exploring solar energy and electric vehicle charging stations, while the city’s comprehensive plan for 2045 is being finalized and could impact how and where buildings are constructed to be more resilient.

Director of City Planning Stephen Benson said growth, development, and land use are all part of the discussion.

"What should development along the coastline look like? What should new development look like? What type of density? How many housing units should we be planning for in these coastal areas that we know are vulnerable to things like storm surge and sea level rise?"

If you missed Tuesday’s meeting, two more are being hosted by the city. A virtual session is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 18, and a final in-person town hall is set for Monday, October 24.