Growth in Florida is expected to continue its upward trend in 2018. According to data from U-Haul, Florida was the country’s No. 2 Growth State for 2017, for the second year in a row. This is consistent with the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates. The continuing flow of refugees from Puerto Rico (approximately 300,000 so far and counting), and the bitter cold striking the northeast this winter along with impending changes to the federal tax system that make states like Florida even more attractive to residents of states with high taxes such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, further indicate that the population will continue to rise in the Sunshine State.
Some local governments are keenly focused on this, particularly as they face increasing populations on top of already heavily congested streets and affordable housing shortages. For example, Broward County’s new growth plan, Broward Next, took effect in mid-2017. Broward Next shifted the county’s emphasis on wide streets and suburban development to transit-oriented development, increasing public transportation options, and mixed-use developments. Broward is also requiring new construction to have better drainage to reduce stormwater runoff and flash flooding. The drainage regulations are based on groundwater level maps that assume a 2-foot rise in sea level by 2060. It also includes incentives for building affordable housing units. With rising populations, sea levels, and traffic volumes, such updated approaches to land use planning are timely. Will other counties follow suit?