Livability is a part of Clearwater Greenprint, the city's sustainability plan
The city wishes to create a livable neighborhood, or one that is pleasant, safe, affordable, and supportive of its members.
Such a neighborhood may include attractive pedestrian-oriented streets with low traffic speed and congestion as well as affordable, sustainable housing that is within reasonable distance to employment opportunities that offer living wages.
Livability & Why It's Important
The city of Clearwater was shaped during a time when fuel was cheap and abundant and driving was the primary mode of transportation. These conditions resulted in important destinations such as workplaces, homes, schools, and commercial centers being built far apart from one another. Clearwater’s sprawling development pattern contributes to residents’ heavy dependence on personal automobiles for travel. Because most of Clearwater is already developed, the city must look towards improving vacant or underutilized properties to make it easier to access resources and promote growth. Creating conditions that enable sustainable growth requires thoughtful consideration of the relationships between how a property is used and the transportation options available to the surrounding community.
Many areas in the city are either stable in redevelopment or are attracting new building development at a very slow rate. Where redevelopment is not occurring, buildings will need to be maintained, repurposed or retrofitted. This will ensure that quality housing, jobs, goods and services are available throughout the community. Improving existing buildings was identified as one of the biggest long-term challenges facing the city in the original Clearwater Greenprint plan. That challenge continues to exist. There has been an increasing rate of building obsolescence due to rapid residential and commercial growth using infrastructure that regularly needs to be replaced. These buildings require a large amount of ongoing maintenance and energy to operate. The present and future owners of Clearwater’s existing buildings will be challenged to invest enough money to successfully maintain the building frame while upgrading the infrastructure inside to be more energy efficient.
In addition to challenges in the existing building stock, there are demographic trends that need to be considered when designing a sustainable approach to land use. According to United States Census Bureau estimates, Pinellas County was one of only two counties in Florida that did not increase in permanent population from 2000 to 2010. Permanent population consists of those residents who live in the county year-round. However, other local projects from the Pinellas County planning agency and Forward Pinellas anticipate some population growth in the decades to come. This growth is not expected to be as large as what is expected in other neighboring counties with more vacant land.
There is also the potential for change in the retired population that moves to the area. Clearwater will continue to attract new retirees over time, but it will most likely be a population of retirees with less spending money than past generations. If the retiree migration rate declines over time, that population will need to be replaced to keep the local economy growing and strong. As a result, there is a need to attract different demographics to the city including young and working-aged people to the city.
In light of this information, the city will need to find a balance between encouraging high quality, energy-efficient development and maintaining an economic environment that is attractive to developers to create new homes and jobs. At the same time, the city will need to incentivize reuse and revitalization of the existing structures so they can remain usable over the long term. Finally, the city has the opportunity to improve quality of life and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by improving or transforming land area that is currently underutilized. The city will continue to increase the tree canopy through its own plantings and by encouraging plantings on private property. It will also continue to seek opportunities to create and maintain areas for recreational purposes and protect environmental resources.
Ultimately, the city wishes to create a livable neighborhood, or one that is pleasant, safe, affordable, and supportive of its members. Such a neighborhood may include attractive pedestrian-oriented streets with low traffic speed and congestion as well as affordable, sustainable housing that is within reasonable distance to employment opportunities that offer living wages.