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Posted by on Sep 22, 2015 in FBA | 0 comments

Alphabet Soup

An acronym is an abbreviation, used as a word, which is formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word.

I remember my orientation to the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for Pinellas County and being given a “cheat sheet” for transportation acronyms.  It was more than one page.  In fact, 1000 Friends of Florida hosts an online Dictionary of Florida Transporation Acronyms that may require a ream of paper to print out.

That said, the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has recently merged with the Pinellas Planning Council (PPC) and as yet, no new acronym has developed, but the alphabet soup potential is there.  More importantly, however, is the potential for Pinellas County to create a partnership where transportation planners and land use stewards will work together.

For those of us on the transportation side, we may already be familiar with local MPOs or TPOs (Transportation Planning Organizations), but a PPC, what’s that?  Here’s how it is defined on their website:

Pinellas County is made up of many different local governments – 24 cities and towns, plus the unincorporated county. In many ways, these communities function independently from one another. Each has its own elected council or commission, passes its own laws, and is responsible for the well-being of its own citizens.

In many other ways, however, these communities are connected. They share a single school board, the same major roads, and a handful of water and sewer systems. They face similar problems, from code enforcement to hurricane evacuation. And they are connected economically, as thousands of residents, visitors, tourists, shoppers, and commuters pass back and forth across community borders every day. Because decisions made in one community can have a profound effect on others, the PPC provides a forum for local governments to cooperate on issues that affect more than one jurisdiction, and to work out any disputes that may arise. It also strives to bring consistency to the planning and regulatory efforts of the 25 local governments.

The PPC is primarily responsible for coordinating land use planning, which governs such issues as where development may go and how intensely it may be used; and intergovernmental coordination, or cooperative planning between otherwise independent local governments. Many other issues, such as transportation, economic development, and schools, overlap these categories and are also addressed by the PPC.

True, the transportation issues were addressed by the PPC, but that didn’t mean the PPC and MPO were on the same page.  Now that the two have merged here in Pinellas County, conversations are taking place in the same room.  This is a major move in the right direction.

US Highway 19, the mid-county Gateway area and beach access rose to the top of the MPO/PPC’s priorities at the agencies’ inaugural visioning workshop held yesterday at the St. Petersburg College EpiCenter in Clearwater.  The purpose of the workshop was to determine the subject areas the newly formed joint agency will be focusing on over the next two years. Board members received a staff presentationPortable Document Format file at the workshop that addressed several issues for them to consider in the discussion of priority/focus areas.

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A slide from the staff prepared PowerPoint presentation

I was present at this visioning workshop and walked away optimistic for the future of Pinellas County.  Board member and City of Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski commented that Complete Streets and Transit needs to be a fourth priority to which Executive Director Whit Blanton and the rest of the board agreed will be integrated into the top three.  How could it not?

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MPO/PPC Executive Director Whit Blanton standing before the board and visioning workshop attendees

Kudos to Whit Blanton, only a few months into this new job, and already moving forward to engage the board and public with Pinellas County priorities.  It’s a process, but good soup, even an MPO/PPC alphabet soup, takes time.

Editor’s note:  The Florida Bicycle Annual Membership meeting will be on Saturday, October 17, 2015, in Oldsmar.  Details on our website home page.

Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association share a common cause in bicycle education for residents and visitors to the Sunshine “Bike-Ped” State.  Share the Road license plate proceeds benefit Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association to further these bicycle educational efforts.  What’s on your motor vehicle?  Get the Share the Road license plate!

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