Tampa’s Flooding Streets
One of the biggest mistakes we humans make is believing that we can somehow out-engineer Mother Nature. But here’s the part we forget or willfully ignore– If Mother Nature wants to flood us, she will do it.
In Tampa, there are two main ways that our city gets flooded-
And guess what? We cannot outsmart either of those factors. But you know what we can do? We can cooperate with mother nature.
How do we do that you ask? By making our city greener.
We can start by adding more green spaces in our urban core to offset the rains. This would include trees, shrubbery and grass that will hold balance our natural cycles better. According to the Water Resources Research Center, some trees can retain up to 100 gallons of water! When we multiply this number by the number of trees in our urban core, the impact is significant. Can you imagine how much better off we would be if we set a goal to increase the number of trees by 10,000? We could be retaining 1,000,000 gallons of water.
Less concrete and more green space equals less flooding.
While the 10,000 additional trees may seem like a daunting idea at first, let’s remember that we currently have 8 million trees in Tampa. In fact, I want us to have at least 100,000 trees added to our streets by the end of my term as your Mayor. That equals 12,500 trees each year; this is very doable!
Another solution is to focus our energy on recovering green space in our population dense areas and use technology such as stormwater detention vaults under our streets to manage the excess stormwater runoff. We need to add curb extensions to every intersection possible and ensure that they have shrubs, bioswales and that the water flows through planters.
While all of these solutions will work for heavy rains, when it comes to hurricanes, our focus has to be on mitigation. The good news is that the solution is the same– more green space. This would mean faster rates of absorption for storm surge.
This is where we have the opportunity to make a huge dent on our infrastructure, transportation, and public safety. We need to take back our neighborhoods and get rid of the Bayshore Highway which has falsely been named Bayshore Boulevard. It is not a boulevard; boulevards are typically people friendly streets with parklets, safe bike lanes, and even walkways.
With our Roads, Less is More
I want to remove the 2 lanes closest to the bay, replace them with a linear park connecting Downtown to Gandy and thus turn Bayshore into a 2 way residential road. This will reduce speeding and traffic congestion, increase the property values of the homes along Bayshore, and most importantly it will save lives. If people still want to speed while driving from Downtown to Gandy they can take the expressway. That’s what it’s for anyway! Think about how much faster our land could absorb our storm surge if we quadrupled the green space along that road.
If we continue to ignore the environmental hazards that are looming over our city, we will be taking a public safety risk as well as an economic risk. We need to prioritize our community and stop challenging Mother Nature. The threat is real but the solutions exist. As your Mayor, I will make it a priority to invest in our environment.
Solar Panels for the Sunshine State
Another key component of our infrastructure is our electrical grid. I find it shocking that our state, the Sunshine State, has fewer solar panels in operation than every other state in America. This makes no sense to me. To complement The Rooftop City brand, we can carry this theme forward into residential homes by incentivizing our residents to equip their rooftops with solar panels.
Currently, our residents cannot sell back the excess power they generate from their solar panels to TECO. This also makes no sense to me. If TECO is pulling energy from someone’s residential solar panels, and reselling that energy to other customers, the person who generated the energy should be fairly compensated.
But this isn’t the case, and it is a great example of what happens when politicians become paid lobbyists. They stop doing what’s right for the people, and start doing what’s in the best interest of special interest groups.
This needs to stop. I pledge to not accept payment to lobby for special interest groups while I’m in office, or after I’ve left office for a period of at least 6 years.