Pinellas County is Florida's densest county with over 920,000 people crammed into 280 square miles. It averages out to around 3,274 people per square mile. Why is this important? Because Pinellas County has simply run out of room. There is very little land left to be developed, so the main source of future growth has to come from redevelopment.
St. Petersburg, with nearly 4,000 people per square mile, anchors Pinellas County with close to a quarter of a million residents. Like Pinellas County, St. Petersburg is also built-out. There is little to no room left to build new roads or expand our highways. Therefore increasing density and mass transit are the only way to responsibly continue to grow.
PSTA, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, has created the Greenlight Pinellas plan to increase and improve our mass transit system. Greenlight Pinellas will develop 24-miles of light rail from Downtown St. Petersburg to Downtown Clearwater. There will be transit stations in major areas such as Pinellas Park, Gateway, and Largo. Other metropolitan areas with light rail have experienced rapid growth clustered around transit stations. These developments are known as transit-oriented developments(TOD). Pinellas County has the opportunity to redevelop around these transit stations. Additionally, light rail stations tend to increase real estate values in surroudning neighborhoods benefiting our communities in mid-Pinellas. Transit-oriented developments will attract businesses creating jobs that will stimulate our local economy.
Downtown St. Petersburg can capitalize on light rail by building high density residential, office, and retail around these mass transit stations. The Greenlight Pinellas plan will also increase bus service by 65%, making it easier to live in Pinellas without a car. This type of mass transit is exactly what we need in St. Petersburg and throughout Pinellas County.
The cost is an additional one-cent sales tax that tourists will bear a majority of the burden. A one cent sales tax increase is a small price to pay increasing our transit options that allow Pinellas to grow responsibly. I will by voting Yes for Greenlight this November and I urge you to join me.