Florida Law Would Change the Definition of ‘Sprawl’

One quick way to build sprawl.

1 minute read

March 27, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A sprawling view of Miami’s low-density residential areas, bisected by wide surface streets.

You know it when you see it. | Image Source Trading Ltd / Shutterstock

The Florida State Legislature is responding to ongoing growth pressure by making it easier to build sprawling development.

HB 439, under consideration by the Florida Legislature would change the legal definition of “sprawl,” along with other key terms of land use regulation, such as “intensity” and “density.”

According to an article by Ben Abramson for Strong Towns, the changes are designed to “remove existing guardrails on a certain type of development in Florida.”

So, for example, the definition of sprawl would be changed from ‘a development pattern characterized by low-density, automobile-dependent development with either a single use or multiple uses that are not functionally related, requiring the extension of public facilities and services in an inefficient manner’ to ‘an unplanned development pattern.’

“The definition of ‘intensity’ would omit existing language that considers ‘the measurement of the use of or demand on natural resources, and the measurement of the use of or demand on facilities and services,’ and henceforth be ‘expressed in square feet per unit of land,’” according to Abramson’s explanation. “A redefining of ‘density’ would replace references to people, residents, or employees with ‘dwelling unit per acre.’”

Strong Towns’ Director of Community Action Edward Erfurt is quoted in the article saying that the legislation ‘knocks the wind out of the definition by leveling the playing field for all development to be equal.’

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 in Strong Towns

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