Friday, February 29, 2008

Information Distributed by the American Planning Association - Florida Chapter

Florida Communities Trust, the state's premier program for helping local communities preserve parks and recreational space, opened its 2008 Florida Forever grant funding cycle on February 22, 2008. Cities, counties and non-profit environmental organizations may submit applications for grants through May 7. The Trust's Governing Board will determine which projects will receive funding during a selection meeting in September. A series of application workshops were scheduled through February and March around the state, with two remaining. One is scheduled for March 4th at the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council in Jacksonville and the other will be held on March 6th at DCA in Tallahassee. The workshops run from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST. For more information about these workshops or the application process, visit

The Florida Energy Commission is charged with developing recommendations for legislation to establish a state energy policy and submitted its report to the Legislature on December 31, 2007. The Commission's division of work into four advisory groups resulted in the Commission adopting 85 recommendations. Those recommendations have been generally grouped into the following policy goals in the report: Restructuring the State Governance for Developing Florida's Energy Policies and Programs; Responding to the Challenges of Global Climate Change;
Increasing Florida's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Efforts; Maximizing Florida's Development of Renewable Energy Resources; Strengthening Florida's Energy Supply and Delivery Infrastructure; Enhancing Florida's Energy-Related Education, Research and Development Programs; and Developing Issues for the FEC's 2008 Report. To view the report and its recommendations in its entirety, go to .

In January, 2008, the House Committee on Agribusiness completed an interim report on the conservation and preservation of agricultural lands in Florida. The purpose of the interim project was threefold: to gather data and information as to the amount of agricultural lands in the state that are as yet undeveloped; to assess the rate at which such lands are being converted to residential, commercial and industrial uses; and to examine and evaluate the effectiveness of current legal mechanisms for preserving lands in agricultural uses. The research conducted for this report suggests a need for the protection of Florida's agricultural lands that is recognized by numerous persons and groups, not just those involved in agriculture. It concludes that a healthy, viable agricultural industry is critical to Florida's economy, and identifies a number of policy options for protecting these lands. The report can be viewed at http// of Agricultural Lands.pdf.


DCA recently released its 2007 Affordable Housing Report, "Solutions to Florida's Affordable Housing Needs". As part of this undertaking, applicable housing-related portions of Chapter 163, Part II, Florida Statutes (F.S.), and Rule 9J-5, Florida Administrative Code
(F.A.C.), were reviewed and asssessed to determine their effectiveness. Further, the review evaluated applicable portions of the Adequate Housing Rule of Chapter 380, Part I, F.S., and Rule 9J-2, F.A.C., to determine their effectiveness in identifying and mitigating regional, affordable housing impacts. The findings outlined in the report indicate that Housing Elements of local government comprehensive plans could be modified in eight specific areas to improve the ability of local government to meet affordable housing needs. Local governments, housing organizations, and affordable housing developers have access to numerous federal, state, and local programs to fund affordable housing; however, the coordination between the program requirements and the Housing Element could be improved. Local incentives for affordable housing, such as expedited permitting, density bonuses, development fee waivers, can enhance the provision of affordable housing, but additional training regarding these tools,specifically for the Local Housing Advisory Committees of the State Housing Initiative Partnership Program, should be explored. To read all the findings, go to .

Released in September 2007, this study was conducted for the American Public Transportation Association. The role of public transportation in terms of net carbon dioxide savings, favorable land use impacts that result in positive environmental and social benefits, and individual household savings were among the issues studied. Report findings conclude that public transportation is a highly valuable asset for reducing global warning. In 2005, public transportation reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 6.9 million metric tons. Furthermore, investments in public transportation have the benefit of supporting higher density landuses that allow for fewer vehicle miles of travel. While it is difficult to precisely measure this impact, a number of studies have attempted to estimate the relationship between transit passenger miles and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction as a proxy for this effect. The results range from a reduction in VMT of between 1.4 miles and 9 miles for every transit passenger mile traveled. The outcome would be more efficient use of roadways, reduced road maintenance, shorter highway commute times and reduced need for street and off- street parking. Go to to view this report.


The House Committee on Tourism and Trade report,

2007 Report on Florida's Tourist-Related Taxes, is a valuable tool for Legislators, local governments, and citizens in understanding the state's local option tourist-related taxes and how they are used at the local level. It is a comprehensive report on the history of the taxes; a detailed description of the taxes, including which counties levy taxes for specific purposes; and, a 10-year-to-date history of the use of these taxes by each county. The report also includes data on the comparison of tourism taxes collected at the local level to the overall sales tax collection. The report can be viewed at

Conducted by the House Committee on Urban and Local Affairs, this project researches and updates the current law for, the current number of, the taxation and special assessment authority of, the monitoring of and reporting by, and recent legislation for special districts in Florida. The project also includes research into other state laws related to special districts for comparison purposes. Further, the report describes issues that arose during the project research and presents options for possible changes. Released in January 2008, the report can be viewed at .

The purpose of this January 2008 interim report by the House Committee on Conservation & State Lands is to assist members in evaluating current state lands use policies and practices and to provide policy options to improve the management of state lands. The interim report also is intended to assist members who may develop legislation for a Florida Forever successor program by developing policies options for such a program with an emphasis on the role of land management in the acquisition decisions and long-term land management. The state currently manages over 3.7 million acres of conservation land at a management cost of approximately $220 million annually. As the state acquires more conservation land, these costs will increase, as will the need to effectively manage these lands and track, and report performance. However, the current management system is decentralized among three agencies, and the existing accountability system needs improvement. The report presents four policy options for the legislature to consider. These options include maintaining the current system of conservation land management by three separate state agencies; creating a council to ccoordinate and oversee land management activities ; centralizing land management activities under one state agency; and centralizing all land management activities under a new entity. The full report can be viewed at Lands Acquisition and Management.pdf