Tarpon Springs, Florida

The City of Tarpon Springs, population 24,000, flanks Tarpon Bayou on Florida’s Gulf Coast in Pinellas County, 25 miles northwest of Tampa. The city’s natural sponge industry dates from the 1880s when Greek immigrants were recruited as divers. A red tide devastated sponge populations in 1947 causing a shift to commercial fishing and shrimping although some sponge diving still takes place here. The waterfront has also become a tourist attraction, featuring historic landmarks, seafood restaurants and Greek-American culture. In fact, Tarpon Springs has the highest percentage of Greek-American citizens of any US municipality.

In 2010, the City adopted a Comprehensive Plan which, in addition to many other initiatives, promoted the redesign and revitalization of a 230-acre Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) as well as the Sponge Docks neighborhood, the focal point of waterfront activity, sponge era attractions and tourism. Specifically, the 2010 Future Land Use Element calls for expansion of tourism, protection of historic resources and preservation of the fishing and shrimping industries.

In 2011, the City adopted a Smartcode for the CRA/Sponge Docks which incorporates an extremely simple density transfer mechanism. Eleven receiving zoning districts have a lower by-right density as well as a higher density limits achievable via density transfer. These eleven zones offer several different pairings of baseline and maximum density with 10 units per acre as the lowest baseline and 24 units per acres as the highest density achievable via density transfer.

The transfer ratio is one-to-one, meaning one bonus dwelling unit can be achieved by precluding one allowable dwelling unit on another parcel when such a transfer would accomplish the goals of the Comprehensive Plan, including the goals mentioned above. The sending and receiving parcels are not required to be close to each other or under common ownership.