Win­ter Park must con­front hous­ing short­age.

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE -

This year, 30,500 peo­ple work in Win­ter Park and 31,200 peo­ple live there, cre­at­ing an em­ployee-to-pop­u­la­tion ra­tio of 98 per­cent. The Or­lando-Kis­sim­mee met­ro­pol­i­tan sta­tis­ti­cal area has 1,122,000 em­ploy­ees, and a pop­u­la­tion of 2,464,000, cre­at­ing a much lower em­ploy­eeto-pop­u­la­tion ra­tio of 46 per­cent. Thus, Win­ter Park is an ob­vi­ous em­ploy­ment hub, at­tract­ing many em­ploy­ees from out­side of the city daily. Win­ter Park should look to ad­dress this em­ployee hous­ing short­age.

Hous­ing in Win­ter Park is also very ex­pen­sive. The me­dian home value is $381,000, com­pared with $206,000 for the MSA. Per-capita in­come is very high in Win­ter Park, $49,500 ver­sus $27,500 for the MSA. Thus, many who work in the city can­not af­ford to live there. To cre­ate a more sus­tain­able com­mu­nity, Win­ter Park needs to al­low op­por­tu­nity for more peo­ple who work in their com­mu­nity the abil­ity to live there. This would al­low so­cial re­la­tion­ships to de­velop deeper com­mu­nity roots. This would also re­duce the use of fos­sil fu­els, wasted com­mute time, and con­ges­tion on our road­ways.

Also, over the past 30 years or so, the af­ford­able hous­ing of Win­ter Park’s west side has been shrink­ing, as large, ex­pen­sive new homes have re­placed them. One al­ter­na­tive to this trend is to en­cour­age higher-den­sity mi­cro­hous­ing that would be more af­ford­able for work­ers. This area be­tween Park Av­enue and U.S. High­way 17-92 will con­tinue to be un­der re­de­vel­op­ment pres­sure; a clear vi­sion should guide its re­de­vel­op­ment.

Win­ter Park was char­tered in 1887. It was con­ceived as a realestate de­vel­op­ment for wealthy North­ern­ers to have a win­ter home on Win­ter Park’s chain of lakes. Over time, the pub­lic ho­tels on Lake Osce­ola have been re­placed with pri­vate hous­ing. This has de­creased ac­cess to the chain of lakes, which has been largely pri­va­tized, leav­ing many res­i­dents and vis­i­tors with lit­tle ac­cess. Ac­cess to these nat­u­ral com­mu­nity ameni­ties should be im­proved. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have din­ner on Park Av­enue and then go for a stroll down to a pier over­look­ing Lake Osce­ola?

I have been work­ing with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and de­vel­op­ers since 1986. Over this 30-year pe­riod, I have be­come more and more con­cerned with our grow­ing health, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. Tra­di­tional ur­ban-plan­ning mod­els do not seem to ad­dress these is­sues in a com­pre­hen­sive man­ner.

Dur­ing the past few years, I have been study­ing bi­o­log­i­cal sys­tems to bet­ter un­der­stand how man fits into the en­vi­ron­ment. Ur­ban plan­ners do not talk much about bi­ol­ogy. But bi­ol­ogy sees com­mu­nity as a liv­ing sys­tem. Cells are the build­ing blocks of or­gan­isms, and groups of or­gan­isms make up com­mu­ni­ties, and com­mu­ni­ties of or­gan­isms make up ecosys­tems. I be­lieve our mount­ing prob­lems are due to our un­bal­anced view of life, and to our poor re­la­tion­ship with each other, and with our en­vi­ron­ment.

With ba­sic bi­o­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples, we can get back on track. If we do not, our grow­ing health, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems will over­whelm us.

Win­ter Park needs a sus­tain­able vi­sion, a liv­ing master plan of what it should be in the fu­ture. This master plan should ad­dress our cur­rent health, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. Win­ter Park must con­front these is­sues to be­come a more car­ing, in­te­grated com­mu­nity.

My Word:

David Marks is pres­i­dent of Mar­ket­place Ad­vi­sors Inc. in Or­lando.

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