Make us your home page

DeWitt: Urban planning brings beauty, value

Don't underestimate the economic power of ugliness.

And don't try to tell me that good urban planning can't help prevent it.

I started thinking about this after seeing the tax revenue estimates from the property appraisers' offices in Hernando and Pasco counties.

While real estate values in other parts of the state have started to rebound nicely, in our two counties they're stuck at the bottom. At least for now.


Take a look at the U.S. 19 corridor in western Pasco that is pulling down the county average.

Or don't look. Because it hurts.

Not too long ago, I got turned around while trying to find the home of a friend in the Beacon Woods subdivision and was treated to an unwelcome tour of warehouse-like big box stores; vast, treeless parking lots, and hundreds of smaller lots with their own, individual, often pothole-riddled driveways reaching out to U.S. 19.

This has to be one reason why western Pasco not only has declining property values, but increasing rates of vacant homes and decreasing numbers of houses occupied by owners rather than renters. And why, in turn, it's become a market where chain stores that you think never close, do close — including the west Pasco Target in 2009.

If the view along U.S. 19 in Hernando is a little less painful — and it's just a little — that's partly because more of it was developed after smarter planning concepts became common: frontage roads, ordinances requiring more landscaping and the dressing up of big standalone stores.

Likewise, the regions of Pasco that are increasing in value include ones anchored by the mixed-use Trinity subdivision and the Shops of Wiregrass, "which is held out as an example of good commercial development," said chief assistant county attorney David A. Goldstein.

You might say the big factor here is age, that of course the newer the neighborhood the better it's doing.

I say — and I can think of a hundred examples — that values of well-conceived communities don't have to degrade over time.

It might all seem obvious, that appearance goes hand in hand with value. But too much of Florida was built on the assumption that we don't worry about that stuff; we have sunshine and cheap living. And when the state disbanded its Department of Community Affairs two years ago, it showed that many of us haven't learned our lesson.

Fortunately, there are signs that Pasco has. In 2011, it adopted impact fees that reward building on or near highways like U.S. 19. County planners also have written an ambitious plan to reimagine the U.S. 19 corridor that the commission could adopt before the end of the month.

There's nothing like that working in Hernando, where the commission recently dismissed the idea of an impact fee system that encourages smarter growth. In fact, it put off charging any fees at all until August 2014.

We may not be good-looking, but we sure are cheap.

DeWitt: Urban planning brings beauty, value 06/03/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 3, 2013 6:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    Associated Press

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.