The Tampa Bay area is exploding with multi-million dollar real estate projects on both sides of the bay.
Leroy Moore saw first-hand the impacts these changes have had on the region as head of the Tampa Housing Authority and as a member of the Advisory Board for the Tampa Bay Division of the Urban Land Institute. ULI is a global organization for real estate professionals – from local government officials and real estate agents to land use lawyers. Moore is also chair of the ULI Tampa Bay Racial Equity Task Force, which aims to better understand the impacts of development on communities of color in the region.
Moore spoke with the Tampa Bay weather on how Tampa Bay can develop sustainably and how it can include diverse voices in the development process. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What are the biggest development challenges Tampa Bay faces?
Having lived in the Tampa Bay area for 23 years now, our biggest challenge has always been to adapt to our growth. But it is also our greatest opportunity. We are a very growth oriented state. And people love coming to Florida, not just to retire, but to experience life as well. Tampa, in particular, has seen tremendous growth over the years. Over time, our elected leaders have really understood this and they realize the need to plan better and more sustainably – and also to learn how to really capitalize on that growth. Growth means prosperity. Growth can also mean better inclusion if planned properly, like connecting all of our different regions and taking that regional approach to major issues like land use, transportation, job creation and truly realizing that we are stronger as a region as opposed to individuals. projects. ULI lends strength to these kinds of inclusive planning strategies for everyone in our community.
Affordability is one of the biggest challenges for residents. How can the region develop without displacing those who already live there?
My daily job is to provide housing for the workforce, provide housing for people who cannot afford market rent, and ensure that these communities are not left behind and forgotten. As growth continues, market pressures can work against affordability. And it certainly is. It’s not unique to Tampa. It’s just the way the market and the factors work. But with good planning and building the right partnerships, we can bring communities back to represent more than just economic groups. Our role at the Housing Authority is to provide low income family housing, but it also provides housing for the workforce and, more importantly, housing for the community. A good community means a diversity of housing, a diversity of uses, a diversity of people, so that we never find ourselves in the sort of segregated development patterns that have plagued the way of life for about a century now.
Many people living in low-rental housing end up spending more on transportation costs than on housing. We can control the housing costs of individuals by setting a rent no more than 30% of their income. But if they own a single automobile or more than one automobile, the cost of insurance and the cost of fuel and the cost of repairs, that automobile can easily exceed 30 percent of their family income, and in some cases can reach 40 or 50 percent. of a person’s income. It is therefore vital that we work on transport.
How can developers be incentivized to break past patterns of segregation?
It’s not just a question of enticing developers. Developers want to grow and they want to make a reasonable profit. It is possible to do without many of the practices that have brought us to where we are today, but it requires strong political leadership as well as a policy that requires responsible development. Responsible development must include the people who live in your population. It should not prevent homeowners from living affordably on the land they own. It is not a question of finding land to build something new, but of knowing how to take what is already in place, make it more sustainable and make it more affordable.
Single-family zoning is an axis that can be rethought from the point of view of public policies. How do you allow, and not oblige, owners of single-family homes who wish to add additional accommodation to bring other family members or a tenant to live there? They create an additional income stream for that family budget. Other communities have actually found quick fixes to this. And I think our community has started to study that and accept the possibility of allowing secondary suites on existing single-family zoned properties.
What are the ways to get more diverse voices from the community in the development process?
Much of our progress has been made over the past 18 months or so. Zoom has become so widely used by governments, as well as planners and developers, to engage with the community. We do this because of the inability to physically enter communities. When you have to physically get to a place and allow people to come to you, you’re overloading people with transportation. Determine the time of day to hold a meeting, when you can actually have very productive virtual sessions like this that can be recorded, and listened to, digested and then processed quite easily by people. One of our best tools is therefore virtual technology.
I also think it is in the desire of the developer. And as a public planner, it’s second nature to us. We have a population, we are going to disturb this population with redevelopment activities. We must first engage with this population. These residents are our customers. You are going to have your client included in the process. Public developers are therefore quite used to it. Private sector developers are embracing it and getting used to it. The tool for that one is public policy. Not only to encourage it, but to demand it.
What can the industry do to train this next generation of diverse professionals to better represent Tampa Bay?
Last year ULI Tampa Bay created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group. We have several people who are members of ULI going through a process to review our local community and the real estate professional industry here and find ways to bring in more diversity. From an educational point of view, from a point of view of community involvement, and not only in its members, but in the by-product of our efforts as well as in the projects that we develop.
One of the biggest deployments of our task force has been to embark on a fair development challenge which has essentially encouraged our local members, as well as other members of the community, to join us on a journey of 21 days and really looking at unique projects locally that can resonate with us individually, because we live here. It is a community that we love. We have chosen to build our career here and look at it from a social justice perspective and understand why this is so, and to have a better appreciation of the plight of these developments that have taken place or of how it happened and why it must play out differently in the future. The best thing it has done for our industry is that it has given us all an understanding of where we are at and how we can do better.