SAVE TAMPA HEIGHTS
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As the oldest neighborhood outside of downtown Tampa, it's time to demand developers stop out-of-character projects within our neighborhood. We are also against developers who fail to engage with the neighborhood on projects, fail to build with historic urban design in mind, or accommodate the Tampa Heights Neighborhood Plan.
Save Tampa Heights is not anti-development, anti-townhome, or anti-density. We are pro-historic preservation, pro-New Urbanism, pro-affordability, and pro-community engagement.
Visit the Share Your Thoughts page to learn more about proposed updates to the development code and share your opinion with the City.
Visit the FAQ page to read the history of how we arrived at this juncture and get answers to misconceptions.
UPDATE 6/3/22: City Planning staff is advancing the code amendment to the City Council workshop on Thursday 6/23/22 at 9:00 AM. Scroll below to read the most recent version of the code amendment. It's sure to be revised after City Council comments, but we need your support now!
Use this form to record your support for the Tampa Heights Overlay District.
Examples of Inconsistent Development
(Image above is new construction townhome which shows several inconsistencies with proposed code)
Non - conforming architecture
Loss of green space
Failing to build sidewalks
Failing to build usable front porches on the first floor
Front facing garages, excessive driveways, & not utilizing alleys for vehicular access
Unnecessary removal of trees
Units with front doors facing alleys or courtyards instead of the street
Proposed Code Amendment Changes
(Image above is new construction townhome built in conformance with the proposed code)
Front doors should be oriented towards the street frontage
Maximize use of alleys to limit impact on pedestrian circulation
Garage and driveway standards to limit impact on pedestrian circulation
Incentivize front porch construction through setback relief
Allow Accessory Dwelling Units by Right
Preserve on-street parking for residents and guests
Reduce commercial parking minimums to induce walkability
Require bike parking at commercial properties
Goal: To get Tampa City Council to pass the Privately Initiated Text Amendment (PITA) that the Tampa Heights Civic Association submitted in July 2021.
Mechanism: A "PITA" is a legislative change to city code proposed by private individuals or organizations. It is similar to a ballot initiative, except that it is not passed by popular vote, but by City Council vote. Why this method? It exists to allow citizens to propose regulations when council fails to take action and write the legislation themselves.
Purpose: this PITA is a stopgap measure to curb some of the most frequent development practices that are out of character with Tampa Heights' urban structure. This PITA only covers residentially zoned properties, not commercial ones. This stopgap is needed because of the rapid pace of residential development. Commercial development is lagging behind, so there is more time to put appropriate regulations in place. But the commercial regulation is overdue, too.
Steps: We are asking the City to 1) pass this PITA, 2) fund the updating of Tampa Heights' 2003 Neighborhood Plan, and 3) fund the creation of a comprehensive zoning overlay that governs all residential and commercial development throughout the neighborhood.
Site Planning Practices: The city Comprehensive Plan recognizes a few historic neighborhoods such as Tampa Heights that were built pre-WW2: "This period represents a time when many people walked, bicycled, or took the streetcar to work and other destinations. It features an interconnected, grid-style street network designed to maximize the efficiency of these transportation modes. Land uses were mixed, minimizing travel time between home, work and shopping. Homes and other buildings were oriented near the sidewalks, with parking relegated to the back of the property. This pattern can be seen in historic neighborhoods around downtown Tampa: Hyde Park, Beach Park, Ybor City, Tampa Heights, Seminole Heights, Palmetto Beach, West Tampa and Virginia Park." That style of urban design has come full circle as people flock to the inner cities for walkable and transit-friendly living experiences.
Our PITA attempts to correct a variety of issues, but the primary goal is to improve site layout issues that have deteriorated the historic pattern quoted above. We are experiencing what the City of Tampa Planning Department itself has called "driveway proliferation". Tampa Heights has a widespread (although not universal) network of connected back and side alleys. The City deserves some blame for failing to maintain them and allowing many of these alleys to be ignored by builders between the 1950s and today. Tampa Heights should be this city's most walkable neighborhood, but our zoning code is written to support car-centric design more appropriate to areas like Carrollwood or New Tampa. As many of our vacant lots are built upon and undervalued post-WW2 homes are replaced, they need to be replaced with buildings that restore the integrity of our historic urban layout.
Why can driveways be bad?: The PITA does not seek to prohibit front yard driveways altogether, but to discourage them and minimize the ones that must exist. Excessively numerous or wide driveways can do the following things:
1) Driveways cause the removal of additional shade trees, or limit the space to plant new ones, which are essential elements to creating a pleasant sidewalk experience in hot, sunny Florida. Driveways likewise prohibit additional greenspace in front yards.
2) Driveways eliminate valuable on-street parking spaces. These are necessary for residents, their guests, and customers of nearby businesses. Having cars parked on-street also causes drivers to slow down, making our streets safer. It also gives townhome/multifamily developers the opportunity to remove guest spaces from their site plan and shift them to the street, allowing more green space on the property.
3) Driveways create excessive sidewalk interruptions where pedestrians have to look out for crossing cars, or walk into the street to avoid cars parked over the sidewalk.
4) Front-of-building garages (and the associated driveways) restrict the opportunity to design usable front porches. "Usable" means they are wide and deep enough to hold a few chairs or tables and be used as a gathering place. Front porches encourage people to gather in public view and engage with their adjacent neighbors or people walking down the street. Porches foster community building through an architectural element.
What else does the PITA try to do?:
1) It blocks developers from getting waivers for sidewalk construction. If a new home is being built, current City code allows developers to pay a fee into the City sidewalk fund instead of building one. This is a major problem, because as the neighborhood redevelops, we lose opportunities to connect our sidewalks. And the City doesn't have money to come build them themselves.
2) It incentivizes the construction of front porches by allowing them to project further into the front setback. That is traditional for the neighborhood, but currently, if you want to do it, you need a Design Exception or Variance to locate your front porch evenly with the historic home next door to you.
3) It allows Accessory Dwelling Units (granny flats) by right, i.e. no Design Exception, Variance, or Rezoning would be required. ADUs are historically appropriate for single family homes and are useful for guests, family members, or as small rental units. This is additional housing stock that helps keep Tampa Heights affordable.
Proposed Overlay District Code (Revision dated 4/22/23)
Sec. 27-244. – Tampa Heights District Design Standards.
(a) Area description and boundaries.
The Tampa Heights area outside the Historic District contains a significant number of historic homes dating between 1890 and 1930. The boundaries of existing Historic Districts contain the highest concentration of historic structures. To protect the integrity of the neighborhoods surrounding the Tampa Heights National and Historic Districts, the following standards have been established and shall apply to existing buildings within the Tampa Heights neighborhood area, outside of the Local and National Historical Districts established in September 7, 2000 and August 4, 1995 respectively, generally located north and west of Interstate 275, east of North Boulevard, and south of State Road 574 (also known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard). Blake High School and the Tampa Heights Riverfront CRA district shall be excluded.
(b) Purpose and intent. TBD
(c) Compliance. Each application for new construction or major renovation, as defined in Chapter 27, City of Tampa Code of Ordinances, and/or any development undergoing a change of use/increase of intensity review, shall comply with all applicable overlay district and underlying zoning district standards and, if applicable, those specific standards outlined in the city council approved site plan. In cases of conflict, the more restrictive standard(s) shall apply. These are the minimum requirements that must be met in order to obtain design approval.
(d) Residential properties.
1. Lot of record established. Any nonresidential lot of record, as defined by this Code, existing as of January 1, 2004 and located within the boundaries of the West Tampa Overlay District, shall be deemed to be conforming and may be developed for any use permitted in the underlying zoning district.
2. Submission requirements. TBD
3. Site and building standards.
i. Fencing. Opaque fencing over 3’ shall not be permitted to face the property frontage, even if located outside the setback. AN exception shall exist for side yard fencing that has a 90 degree return to the side of a structure. The erection of chain link fencing is prohibited except during construction. Such construction fencing shall be removed prior to obtaining any certificate of occupancy. New installation and replacement of chain link fencing shall be prohibited.
ii. Orientation. The building front doors of all new principal structures shall be oriented towards the front yard of the zoning lot or facing the nearest street, if a corner lot.
Roof pitch. Minimum roof pitch for new residential structures shall be a minimum for porches of 4:12 or houses 6:12 (Ratio of Rise to Run). Roofs shall be gabled or flat, not mono-pitched. Flat roofs with parapet walls shall be permitted when precedent on the subject and immediately adjacent blocks is set by an historic structure. Roof pitches for additions to principal structures shall match the pitch of the existing roof.
iii. Alley Access. If an existing lot is adjacent to an open and used public alley, vehicular access to the site may be provided from the alley as the primary vehicular access point provided it meets minimum standards referenced in 27-283.12, Off-street parking space standards. Vehicle access and flow shall be designed to have minimal impact on pedestrian circulation. .
iv. Parking. For single-family detached, semi-attached, or attached dwellings:
The vehicular entrance to an enclosed garage must be setback a minimum eight (8) feet or greater from the front façade of the building, or accessible from the rear alley, or accessible from the side yard. Exceptions shall be permitted for side load garages located at the front of the primary structure.
Garage entrances may not be front facing unless part of a set-back design.
Garages shall not be required to be a part of the primary structure. Garages in accessory structures shall be permitted by right.
For single family semi-attached or attached dwellings, if vehicular access is provided solely from the alley, and no driveways intersect the curb, they shall be allowed to use on street spaces to count as guest parking. Thereby being relieved of minimum requirements for off street guest parking.
vi. Residential Access & Driveway Safety Minimum Criteria: To maintain safety within the right of way, minimize conflict points between vehicles and pedestrians, reduce driveway proliferation, and preserve the integrity of the curbside, all new driveways on non-functionally classified streets shall comply with the requirements of this section.
1. General requirements for all residential properties:
a) All new driveways for zoning lots less than 70' in width shall orient all new vehicular access through an adjacent improved alley.
b) Parcels that do not abut an alley or that abut an alley that is not navigable may improve the alley to City standards, or provide access pursuant to Table XX below.
c) Existing driveways not subject to this criteria. Modification of existing driveways are subject to this criteria at the determination of the Zoning Administrator
Table XX: Residential Access & Driveway Safety Requirements
Maximum Driveway Width for New Driveways**
Minimum Driveway Spacing***
70’ or more
Less than 50’
*For the purpose of this section, the term driveway is to be interpreted as the portion of the traveled way within the right-of-way that connects the edge of the street to the parking area on the private property.
**Minimum width criteria measured as the narrowest width of the driveway between the edge of the roadway (not including tapers) and the right of way line.
***Measured from edge of driveway (including flare/taper) to the nearest adjacent curb cut. A reduction in the minimum driveway spacing may be requested via design exception.
vii. Accessory structures. Accessory dwelling units shall be permitted by right in all Residential Single Family Districts.
viii. Front Porches. If a front porch is constructed, the porch shall be permitted to encroach into the setback up to ten (10) feet. This shall be permitted for multiple floors so long as the ground floor porch is included.
(e) Commercial and Mixed Use Properties
Lot of record established. Any nonresidential lot of record, as defined by this Code, existing as of January 1, 2004 and located within the boundaries of the West Tampa Overlay District, shall be deemed to be conforming and may be developed for any use permitted in the underlying zoning district.
Site and building standards.
If on-street parking is available, or is created by the development proposal, each development may reduce the total number of off-street parking spaces by the number of on-street spaces found on each frontage of the development site.
For lots fronting Franklin Street, any site with less than 20,000 square feet is exempt from minimum off-street parking, or,
Any pre-WWII building, required off-street parking may be reduced by 50%.
Parking Ratios (number of off-street spaces required per unit):
Non-residential: 1 space per 5,000 square feet
Bicycle Parking Requirements.
1 for every 5 lodging units
1 per Dwelling Unit
1 per 3,000 sf of gross commercial usage
Save Tampa Heights is not affiliated with the Tampa Heights Civic Association