What do land development growth patterns across Florida look like over the next 10, 20, or 50 years?  That’s a question local governments, developers, and property owners of all types consider when planning for the future and investing in real estate development projects. Understanding those patterns, where they will occur, and in what intensity are driven by statistics and data about population growth trends, as well as having an in depth understanding of an area’s capacity to adequately accommodate growth. Knowing where growth will come, leads to other more detailed questions about adequacy of roads, sewer, water supply, schools, public facilities, and a community’s quality of life. Where will people work and live? Will important agricultural lands be kept in production or converted to other land uses? Land development regulations, environmental law, and growth management policies all affect these growth patterns. 

A collaborative report called “Florida 2070” takes a high-angle view of these questions and looks at what Florida’s growth trends will look like under existing growth management laws compared with the authors’ recommendations for smart growth measures. “Florida 2070” was recently published by 1000 Friends of Florida with assistance from the University of Florida’s GeoPlan Center and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). It can be viewed here. “Florida 2017” relies on population projections developed by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) which estimates that the state’s population will multiply to 33.7 million people by 2070 (and this is only a “moderate” projection which estimates 15 million more people living in Florida by 2070 than in 2010). The report applies certain assumptions and criteria about projected growth trends and then applies them to a series of maps to help visualize growth trends. The vast majority of growth is projected to occur near existing cities and roads.

The University of Florida’s GeoPlan Center developed the interactive, color map series for “Florida 2070” which illustrates 2010 land development patterns, and then compares that year’s known developed land with a “2070 Trend” map and a “2070 Alternative” map. The “2070 Trend” map hypothesizes what state-wide land development patterns will look like if Florida continues to promote growth and land development under current policies that allow sprawl at low densities. The “2070 Alternative” map hypothesizes what state-wide land development patterns could look like if state and local governments implement regulations or policies that emphasize more compact communities, protection of natural areas and promotion of active agricultural lands to avoid their conversion to other land uses (Florida’s agriculture industry is the second largest sector of Florida’s economy behind tourism).

“Florida 2070” shows just how essential knowing state comprehensive planning law and local land development regulations can be for land development projects.