At today’s City Commission retreat, the commissioners unanimously voted to rename the Southern Strategy Area (SSA) to the Southside Action Plan (SAP). They also appointed Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox as the lead commissioner for the SAP.
Williams-Cox said the SSA’s goals were not achieved because it was not a priority.
“It didn’t happen because it was not a priority. It is now a priority,” she said.
The SSA plan was originally adopted 23 years ago to counteract “an unbalanced development pattern occurring over several decades” in which the northern and eastern portions of the City saw higher growth trends. The SSA encompassed 14,323 acres, with 81% located within the city limits and 19% in unincorporated areas of the county.
Since the creation of the SSA over two decades ago as part of the Tallahassee-Leon County Comprehensive Plan, there have only been six proposed updates presented to the City and County Commissions. The primary objective of the SSA was to “encourage quality land development and redevelopment” with the goals of population growth, expansion of business and job opportunities and “attaining an income mix in the SSA comparable to the remainder of the urbanized community.”
Demographics in the area differ from the rest of Leon County. In a population summary from 1970 to 2019, the percentage of homeowners in the area decreased from 51% to 31%, with renters increasing from 49% to 66%. Since 1980, the unemployment rate in the area was nearly double that of the rest of the County.
Moving forward, the SAP will include assessments of the areas housing trends, infrastructure projects and needs, public and private developments, and identification of other “constraints that limit the growth and redevelopment” of the area. Another primary goal for the SAP during 2021 is community outreach.