Don Mastry, Katherine O’Donniley and Shaun Amarnani Discuss Land-Use and Zoning Differences Between St. Pete and Tampa in Business Observer
In a Business Observer article published on Feb. 9, 2018, Don Mastry, Katherine O’Donniley and Shaun Amarnani provided insight on the stark differences in land-use and zoning regulations between St. Petersburg and Tampa. “Cities often have similar policy goals when it comes to land-use, but they just use different methods to get there,” O’Donniley explained. “That’s the case for Tampa and St. Petersburg.” The differences between St. Pete and Tampa are significant because outside investors often approach the two cities as a single entity because of their close proximity.
The two cities didn’t intend to have such vast differences in land-use, but they grew apart as the cities developed over decades. “St. Petersburg has traditionally been more residential in nature than Tampa has,” Mastry noted. “And Tampa was, in its infancy more industrial and St. Pete was more tourist-oriented. Over time, Tampa grew more of a corporate presence with more office space.”
St. Pete utilizes a single-use zoning system, or Euclidean zoning, where properties are designated for specific uses such as residential or office space. Many times, St. Pete’s zoning regulates building setbacks, heights, density and number of units. To offset these demands, the city often offers developers incentives in exchange for meeting larger, and oftentimes more social goals, such as the inclusion of public art. “There’s more social policy built into codes than people think at first glance,” Amarnani said.
Tampa uses a “planned development process” for zoning that intends to provide developers the freedom to meet public needs, produce more innovative projects and address site challenges for developers. “Site planning offers developers a way to take on challenging sites,” O’Donniley noted. “It allows for waivers to be wrapped into the approval.”
However, there is more entwined approach to zoning beginning to appear that could make St. Pete and Tampa more similar. St. Pete has hinted the city may adopt a planned development process similar to Tampa in the future. “Where two different cities have distinct ideas about zoning, oftentimes what we’re finding is that they can learn from one another,” Amarnani said.
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