1000 Friends of Florida

Community Design

Photo Courtesy of Tim Hernandez. New Urban Communities Coda Shetscape

Inefficient sprawling development wastes our taxpayer dollars, destroys Florida’s natural lands, and diminishes our quality of life.  1000 Friends promotes state, regional and local efforts to fight sprawl and support smart growth and sustainable development.

Instead of using our taxpayer dollars to pay for new roads and water lines sprawling out into the countryside, we can invest in better schools and parks in our existing communities.

With convenient and affordable transportation alternatives, families can rely less on driving and have more money left over to buy a home or save for college.

Our physical and mental health benefit as we walk more and drive less.  Our pockets and our planet benefit too, as we make our communities more energy efficient and cost effective.

Communities across Florida are taking the lead on promoting smart growth.  Below is information on 1000 Friends’ statewide efforts, as well as some exemplary local examples.

Find out more about how smart growth, effective comprehensive planning, form-based codes, regional visioning efforts and more can improve the economic vitality and quality of life in communities across Florida.

How livable is your community?  AARP’s 2015 Livability Index is a tool to measure the quality of life in American communities, focusing on housing, transportation, neighborhood characteristics, environment, health, opportunity, and civic and social engagement.  You can enter your city’s name, or zip code, or complete address to generate a score.

Can’t You Read the Sign? Sign Regulation after Reed v. Town of Gilbert, AZ:

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert may make it more difficult for local governments to regulate signs in a content neutral manner under the First Amendment. City of Clearwater Council member Bill Jonson, a local elected official who has advocated successfully for many years for scenic values, including sign regulation, explains how communities are affected by signs and why local governments regulate signs. National legal experts on sign regulation, Susan L. Trevarthen, Esq., FAICP and William Brinton, Esq., provide a history of the facts and issues in Reed, examine the Supreme Court’s decision in Reed, including the three concurring opinions, and analyze the impact the Court’s decision will have on local governments, planners, and communities in Florida.  Check out the PowerPoint, PowerPoint with white background/limited graphics, and an essay by Diane Steinle, Beauty is Good for Business:  How the City of Clearwater tackled its signage and won.

The Economics of Smart Growth:

The Missing Metric (2013) — Congress for the New Urbanism founding director Peter Katz provides Florida-specific examples of how to assess the revenue generated from various land development patterns, in the process providing a compelling argument supporting compact design.  The August 2013 issue of Government Finance Review focuses on “Rethinking Economic and Community Development,” including articles by Katz (page 4 of pdf), former Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley (page 22 of pdf)  and others on the economics of development from the local government perspective.  Click here to view the entire issue, including Katz’s informative article.  You may also view the broadcast and PowerPoint from 1000 Friends’ April 2013 webinar featuring Peter Katz.

Smart growth for Florida:

Why Florida needs smart growth  (2009) – This series of essays from some of the state’s developers, elected officials, conservationists, and academics explores how smart growth benefits Florida.

The Florida planning tool box – This comprehensive one-stop, easily accessible smart growth resource is intended for Florida planners, public officials, and citizens who are seeking to plan for the future livability and health of Florida’s communities.

Florida 2060 (2006) – How will Florida grow and develop by 2060 if current patterns of development continue? This series of studies shows what could be lost, and provides recommendations on how to follow the principles of smart growth for a better outcome.

Energy smart planning for Florida – 1000 Friends of Florida and The Future is Now Foundation partnered to produce a series of webinars on energy smart planning for Florida.  They are available on-demand and some have been approved for AICP CM credits for professional planners.

Smart growth for Florida’s future (2009) – The state’s leading conservation and planning organizations joined together to develop some consensus recommendations on how to better promote smart growth in Florida.

Local efforts:

Miami – In 2010, Miami adopted Miami 21, a new holistic form-based code guided by smart growth principles to provide a clear vision for the city that is supported by specific guidelines and regulations so future generations can reap the benefits of well-balanced neighborhoods and rich quality of life.

Sarasota County – In 2007, the county adopted a form-based code for mixed use infill development in unincorporated areas.

Lee County – Beginning in 2007, Lee County adopted a series of award-winning plans and regulations related to compact communities and form-based codes, transferrable development rights, groundwater protection and other measures.

Riviera Beach – Beginning with a charrette in 2007, Riviera Beach began development of comprehensive plan amendments and new land development regulations regarding the downtown Community Redevelopment Area.  Riviera Beach is currently in the adoption process.

St. Lucie County – In 2006, St. Lucie County adopted Towns, Villages and Countryside (TVC).  This comprehensive plan amendment and land development regulations overlay applies to the agricultural area of North St. Lucie County. The TVC encourages a pattern of development that preserves rural character while providing for future growth.

City of Sarasota – In 2001, Sarasota adopted a downtown master plan with a mixed use form-based code.

City of West Palm Beach – Adopted in 1995, the Downtown Master Plan (DMP) and urban code established the vision for the downtown area and continues to successfully guide its development. The DMP and urban code regulate the building envelope rather than utilizing conventional planning techniques such as floor area ratio.

Regional visioning:

myregion.org – This regional “team” of 86 cities and seven Central Florida counties—Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia–came together to make Central Florida globally competitive and maintain a high quality of life.

Heartland 2060 – The Central Florida Regional Planning Council is undertaking a multi-year visioning effort for Polk, Hardee, Highlands, DeSoto, Okeechobee, Glades and Hendry counties.

Southeast Florida Regional Partnership – More than 200 stakeholders from the seven-county region of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties have adopted Livability Principles that will guide the development of the Regional Vision and Blueprint for Economic Prosperity.

National reports:

Smart Growth America livability principlesThis national organization has identified six principles to create more livable communities:  1. Provide more transportation choices. 2. Promote equitable, affordable housing. 3. Enhance economic competitiveness. 4. Support existing communities. 5. Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment. 6. Value communities and neighborhoods.

Smart growth project scorecard (2007) – Use this scorecard to measure the qualities of a proposed development project to see if it corresponds to your community’s vision.

The Walk UP wake-up call:  The Nation’s Capital as a national model for walkable urban places (2012) – According to this report by the George Washington University School of Business, the next real estate cycle will be defined by the rise of Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) and the fall of sprawl development.

Getting to smart growth:  100 policies for implementation – The Smart Growth Network identified policies to create smart growth in neighborhoods, communities and regions across the United States.

Getting to smart growth II: 100 more policies for implementation – This follow-up publication identifies 100 additional public policies to promote smart growth.

A citizen’s guide to LEED for neighborhood development (2012) – Prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council, this report provides information to help local environmental groups, smart growth organizations, neighborhood residents and others learn about how to make communities greener and better.

2011 community preference survey:  What Americans are looking for when deciding where to live – The National Association of Realtors’ survey reveals that most Americans would like to live in walkable communities where shops, restaurants, and local business are within an easy walk from their homes, as long as those communities can provide detached single-family homes.

Our built and natural environments:  a technical review of the interactions between land use, transportation and environmental quality (2001) – In this report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency summarizes technical research on the relationship between the built and natural environments, first focusing on trends in land use and then on how various development patterns and practices can minimize environmental damage.  For more information, also see Environmental benefits of smart growth.


American Planning Association

Congress for the New Urbanism

Form-Based Codes Institute

National Trust for Historic Preservation — Sustainability

Natural Resources Defense Council

Partnership for Sustainable Communities

Smart Growth America

Smart Growth Network

Urban Land Institute – Southeast Florida/Caribbean

Urban Land Institute – North Florida

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