Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Plan pumps life into downtown Tampa

The master plan for downtown that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn unveiled Tuesday would bring a new flair and vibrancy to the city center. With sidewalks and bike trails, shaded parks along the Hillsborough River and bustle from new residences and retail, downtown would be the place to live, work and play and a magnet for thousands who live in historic neighborhoods to the north, west and east.

The plan, a year in the making, marks the most ambitious effort yet to reverse decades of bad urban design that left the downtown riverfront blocked from view and downtown's streets a precarious place to drive, walk or open a business. By making the downtown more livable, Tampa hopes to attract the talent and character modern cities need to compete in the global economy.

The plan aims high and looks to remake what in places is a bleak landscape of offices, vacant land and surface parking lots into a mixed community of homes, shops and businesses. The city already has many assets to attract people to the area, from historic architecture to the river, parks and new museums. The problem is that these amenities can be blocks apart, tied together by nothing but dangerous streets. The plan would slow down auto traffic, downsize some roads to make room for sidewalks and bike paths, and establish open sight lines to the water. The core suggestion — "Walking should be recognized as the fundamental mode of transportation within the center city" — would reverse urban thinking in a city where downtown was always just a place to do business.

The plan does not overlook the details, either. It calls for more parks to give the channel district a sense of identity, extending the ribbon of green space along both banks of the river and spending money on benches and trees so pedestrians can enjoy the outdoors in the Florida heat. The city would work with local industries to offer targeted tax and job development incentives to bring skilled labor and startups to town. It would ensure the parks and sidewalks are clean and safe, work to expand rapid transit bus service, promote live-where-you-work grants among teachers and other downtown workers, and upgrade electrical and drainage facilities.

The city will need to ensure that the parks remain mostly for passive recreation, and that any job or development incentives serve a clear public purpose. With a timetable that could easily outlast Buckhorn's term in office, the plan must be durable so that future mayors follow through on the progress Buckhorn and his predecessors already started. And the city should work with local universities and other institutions to make downtown's makeover a true incubator that attracts new industry.

The blueprint is an exciting start. It promises, as Buckhorn said, to set the table by attracting private capital downtown and by serving as a guide to keep the city focused over the long term. This is a serious effort conceived through broad community input, which offers hope it will be successful.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18