Bob Buckhorn unveils platform focused on business and neighborhoods
TAMPA – Former Tampa City Council member and mayoral candidate Bob Buckhorn has rolled out a campaign policy platform focused mostly on the local economy and neighborhoods.
And to stay focused, he says his administration would create two deputy mayors, one for economic opportunity and the other for neighborhood and community empowerment.
The deputy mayor for economic opportunity would come from the consolidation of existing positions, Buckhorn says. This official would be responsible for programs and initiatives to attract new business, grow entrepreneurship and retain existing businesses. He or she also would supervise the city agencies and departments involved in business regulation and economic development, including permitting, community redevelopment, housing, construction services and the Tampa Convention Center.
Buckhorn's economic plan can be seen at www.bobbuckhorn.com/economic.pdf. Among other things, it proposes:
• A task force representing business, neighborhood and community leaders to look at city regulations and processes with an eye on streamlining bureaucracy and expediting plans and permits.
• The creation of a master plan to guide urban growth with input from downtown, Ybor City, Channelside, Tampa Heights, Riverside Heights and North Hyde Park. The plan would address design guidelines, amenities, funding strategies, connectivity between major public projects, zoning and land use, particularly along the Hillsborough River.
• A commitment to find the money to finish the Riverwalk.
• A program modeled on the city's old Challenge Fund to make affordable housing more accessible to first-time homebuyers. Under former mayor Sandy Freedman, for whom Buckhorn worked as a special assistant, the Challenge Fund helped poor and middle-class residents buy homes by combining federal grants and conventional bank loans to provide low-cost financing.
• A “one-stop licensing program,” where entrepreneurs could learn, in person or online, everything they need to know about applying for permits and licenses to do business in the city.
Buckhorn also says he would create two other new city positions: a chief technology officer and director of protocol for international trade and commerce. The director of protocol would focus on fostering international commerce – everything from more international flights to more container freight ships – by working with Tampa International Airport, the Port of Tampa, Hillsborough County, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and Enterprise Florida.
On neighborhoods, he proposes:
• Banning panhandling on collector streets. A proposed ordinance now pending before the City Council would ban panhandling only on larger arterial streets.
• Creating a "Neighborhood University" to provide a formal leadership training program for neighborhood leaders. It would be modeled on the Tampa chamber’s Leadership Tampa program.
• Establishing “accountability standards” to measure the time and effort it takes and hold city departments responsible for things like laying sidewalks, filling potholes, paving streets and maintaining or replacing water lines.
• Demolishing condemned and foreclosed buildings.