Arts and culture. Affordable housing. Diversity, equity and inclusion.
These are a few of the theme areas that will be focused on as part of StPete2050, a community-generated vision for where the city is going and what it can become over the next 30 years.
StPete2050 builds on the city’s Vision 2020 plan, which was adopted in 2002, and seeks to expand into new areas, address challenges and make improvements to what’s currently in place.
“This will continue to help us make smart and informed decisions about our plans, our programs and the services we offer throughout the city,” Derek Kilborn, manager of urban planning and historic preservation, told the city council at a recent presentation of the StPete2050 report. “It can be used not only by city staff but also the private sector, residents, business owners and other community organizations.”
To gather information for the report, city administrators did a considerable amount of outreach, attending 45 events across the city to reach a wide swath of residents. They also held community workshops and meetings and conducted online surveys that netted nearly 4,000 responses. Using the feedback they collected, the architects of the report were able to identify 10 theme areas of concern or opportunity for the city going forward. They are:
- Arts and Culture. Mission: St. Petersburg will continue to be known for its vibrant art scene and celebrate the vast cultural resources throughout the city. Goals include achieving greater recognition of St. Pete as an arts destination, assisting artists with being able to live and work in St. Pete, and promoting arts and culture to exemplify the ethnic and cultural diversity of the city.
- Attainable housing. Mission: St. Petersburg residents have access to a wide range of quality attainable housing options within all neighborhoods. Goals include the expansion of housing development, preserving existing and creating new opportunities for attainable housing and minimizing involuntary displacement of residents and businesses from neighborhoods.
- Diversity, equity and inclusion. Mission: St. Petersburg will be a place where everyone has the resources needed to realize their full potential and where all feel welcomed and are treated equally. Goals include reducing resident poverty rates in vulnerable neighborhoods, increasing minority-owned businesses and creating a welcoming and safe environment for people with different sexual orientations and gender identities.
- Education. Mission: Improving access to exceptional and equitable education will allow St. Petersburg students to reach their full potential. Goals include support for early childhood education programs, the creation of improvement plans to bridge achievement gaps and support for vocational training and certification programs.
- Growth and community character. Mission: The need to accommodate growth in St. Petersburg will be balanced with protecting and enhancing community character. Centers and corridors will be the focus of redevelopment. Goals include expanding housing choice, creating high quality and walkable areas and supporting the redevelopment of sites including the Innovation District and Tropicana Field.
- Healthy communities. Mission: The City will work to improve health outcomes, reduce health inequalities and strive to implement policies and programs that give all residents the opportunity to attain and enjoy optimal health. Goals include monitoring and reporting indoor and outdoor air quality, improving access to healthcare and healthy food and developing and implementing strategies to be more prepared for future public health crises.
- Parks, recreation and open space. Mission: St. Petersburg will be known for its world class waterfront and community parks. It will preserve and enhance natural spaces throughout the city. Goals include protecting and enhancing waterfront open spaces, maintaining a broad parks and recreation system for all ages and continuing to promote environmental preservation.
- Shared economic prosperity. Mission: St. Petersburg will have an increasingly inclusive, diverse and growing economy by 2050. There will be a focus on equity with the understanding that the vibrancy of the entire community is determined by the economic well-being of all individuals. Goals include promoting workforce training, working collaboratively with economic development partners and ensuring internet access is available to all residents.
- Sustainability and resiliency. Mission: The growth that occurs into 2050 will demonstrate the City’s commitment to sustainability and resiliency. Goals include developing and implementing strategic plans that will protect infrastructure from sea level rises and climate change, allowing, incentivizing and regulating development in the Coastal High Hazard Area and achieving the goal of 100 percent renewable energy.
- Transportation and mobility. Mission: the safe and efficient movement of people throughout St. Petersburg will remain an important consideration in the continued growth and success of our city moving toward 2050. The integration of multiple modes of transportation contributes to a dynamic community. Goals include promoting increased mobility opinions, creating safer streets and increasing transit service on premium corridors.
Going forward, residents will have another month to weigh in on their priorities via an online survey. Once those results come back, administration will move ahead with updating the city’s comprehensive plan and land development regulations. Liz Abernathy, the city’s director of planning and development services, said the plans are to revisit the goals and missions outlined in StPete2050 every five years to see the progress that has been made and identify areas that may need modification.
“Although we’re calling this StPete2050, that doesn’t mean we won’t do more,” she said. “This will help us through the next 10-15 years as we move forward.”
Several council members expressed concern that the current report isn’t meaty enough.
“The themes are great,” said council member Darden Rice. “But I would like to see them brought together to tell a story because St. Pete has an incredible story.”
Council chair Ed Montanari said he’d like the mission statements to be stronger.
“Some of the major goals here aren’t bold enough for me. Let’s have the best education system in the state of Florida,” he said. “The same on the parks. Let’s be bold on what we want, and I want the best urban park system in America.”
He also said he’d like to have seen more input from community members who are experts in the areas addressed in the report. However, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin praised the efforts taken by the city to get feedback from residents who may not always be engaged in local government, even though it is a departure from how data has been gathered in the past.
Related content: Listen to Tomalin’s podcast Just Getting Started: Looking into the future with StPete2050
“We are so excited that we had 2,870 residents who were reached and who participated and felt the weight of their voice,” she said. “We couldn’t be more pleased by the results that have come from this. I think there is absolutely time for those who find themselves in positions of leadership, or feel like leaders in the community, to then take this vision and be champions of it and carry it forward but we really wanted it to reflect what the community felt as a whole.”