Any Florida residents already know that the Sunshine State attracts more than its fair share of attention. From tourists visiting beaches and theme parks, to an influx in migration.
With the rate it's been going, it is projected that Florida will attract about 2.5 MILLION new residents by the end of the decade!
Again, Florida is no stranger to growth. The state has attracted visitors and immigrants from across the country, and around the globe. However, the growing pains are starting to show.
What are some of the Problem Areas and some possible Solutions?
According to the Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research, permits for new housing in the state of Florida is below the historical average. Following the population trend, this would mean that the state would need upwards of 1 MILLION new homes built by 2030. Home builders throughout the state of Florida have been hit hard by the Pandemic and supply-chain delays, but material is beginning to level out again. This means that the real struggle for keeping up with population growth lies in where homes are being built.
In order to achieve wide-spread attainable housing, Florida builders will have to start developing open land that is further from city centers. This is really the only alternative to expensive urban infill projects, which is the likely alternative. However, even to do this, there will have to be quite a few regulation changes to allow denser development.
If you have lived in the state of Florida for any decent amount of time, you may have noticed that the major roads are ALWAYS under construction. With a couple million more residents expected, this will likely remain the case. Several Central Florida roads, including I-4 and U.S. 17, are consistently placed in the list of "Most Congested" roads.
The solution to this one seems simple right? MORE ROADS.
Adding another lane to popular freeways can go a long way, but... that's still a short term solution. It's difficult to get work done on popular roadways because they are always being used. So construction must take place at odd hours and often interrupts the very traffic flow they are trying to ease. These factors often keep road expansion from catching up with population growth.
Another, more long-term solution, is public transportation. Florida offers an array of transportation options; from on-demand shuttles and public buses, to renting electric scooters. Another option is the passenger railways, like the Brightline that runs between Tampa and Miami. This railway is even currently building a segment that will connect to the Orlando International Airport. And yet, historically, less than 5% of Florida commuters use public transit options.
As far as electricity goes, the Public Service Commission maintains that the current 10-year plan is adequate for meeting demand at a reasonable cost. Florida is also making fairly significant steps in the right direction by encouraging construction of solar power plants. Florida homeowners can even add solar panels to their own home in order to further reduce expenses. The regulation on these is still a constant source of debate, however.
One resource that most Floridians wouldn't think might be a problem, is water. Yet, the Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research suggests that very few water management districts will be able to reach future demand with the existing supply. The rate at which Floridians use freshwater is already higher than is healthy for many of the natural springs that make up Florida's water supply. The cost of this utility is estimated to rise as more and more alternate sources are exploited.
The state also has many century old pipes that need replacing, along with over 2 million Florida homes that still use septic tanks (which have been implicated in polluting many of Florida's natural water sources.
This is a problem that will likely need many solutions and will almost certainly be quite expensive.
Despite all of this, the fact remains, that people are simply attracted to the Sunshine State. So as more people start to call Florida home, we will all face these challenges together. But when it comes to creating solutions, they say, "two heads is better than one." So, hopefully 2.5 million heads is even better.