An Extensive Public Planning Effort For Southeast Florida
From the town of Sebastian in Indian River County to Key West in Monroe County, the Southeast Florida region is over 3OO miles from end to end. In population, the seven counties of Southeast Florida constitute the fifth largest region in the nation. In socioeconomic and racial diversity the region ranks 17th out of 150 of the nation’s largest metropolitan regions. A place as large and diverse as Southeast Florida presents a number of challenges when it comes to planning; our region is really many regions.
The northern counties of Southeast Florida are characterized by vast agricultural areas, a pristine natural environment, and a large numbers of retirees. The southern counties are busy metropolitan areas with young urban professionals and new arrivals moving in every day from all over the world. Nowhere else is like the Florida Keys, both in terms of its stunning natural environment and its celebrated, laid-back lifestyle. Cross- regional dialogue requires both clear communication and a commitment to understanding. We must recognize our differences while at the same time welcoming the opportunity to work together on shared issues.
The planning process for Seven50 was a full community effort that involved civic and community leaders, local and national experts, and a wide cross-section of the public. A transparent process, open communication, and intense public outreach were a priority from the start of Seven50. Additionally, a conscious effort to include those who don’t traditionally participate in planning processes was central to the public outreach.
The team used the latest technology available to broadcast and document every event and to share with the region every idea presented during project summits, workshops and community meetings. In this way, the Seven50 events engaged the entire region.
Summits held at the approximate midpoint of the region attracted hundreds of participants to listen to national experts in the field of planning. Seven work group sessions held on-site in each county, a kind of “Seven50 Traveling Roadshow,” focused on defining local aspirations. Special stakeholder meetings were held simultaneously to these events to consider specific issues with local experts. Multiple gatherings of different scales and formats allowed a wide variety of participation. The events also helped the project team to plan for the region as a whole while learning about local differences and priorities. The public process to develop Seven50 was the largest of its kind conducted in the region.
A timeline of major planning milestones in South- east Florida and a description of the major public events and public participation tools are detailed on the following pages. A detailed report of the public process is available as a supplementary report at www.Seven50.org.