West Tampa Redevelopment Lesson No. 1

Taken from a third story window in a cigar factory in West Tampa, this shot illustrates how truly urban development (the three older houses on the right, with their garages in the back alley, tighter setbacks and front porches) contrasts with newer suburban-style development (no porches, driveway in the front, bigger setbacks requiring more land, etc.) Even though West Tampa is an ideal neighborhood for urban redevelopment, Tampa’s zoning regs are — for the most part — suburban in nature. Hell, they were mostly written in the 1970s and 1980s, when all we wanted to do was build out in the ‘burbs. New housing in the older style of development would be more neighbor-friendly, more dense (and thus more affordable) and would rebuild a community that has been shattered by neglect, drugs, crime and an interstate splitting it down the middle.

There are some folks trying to change this, and you can read about it in Wednesday’s Weekly Planet cover story on West Tampa. I’ll post a link tomorrow as soon as the story hits the e-newsstands.


Zoning is some really boring shit, not to put too fine a point on it. I know. Back in the day, I sat through enough land-use and zoning public hearings that I literally start to shiver when I trip across them on government TV while channel-surfing the cable.

But zoning is key to understanding why Florida is the way it is today (generally messed up, with horrible suburban sprawl, no real urban cities and environmental destruction from the Panhandle to the Keys). And this photo is one example to help us understand how zoning can determine our future, either more of the same or a brave new world.

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