There is an inextricable link between a community's transportation and land use policies, its reliance on the automobile and the emissions of greenhouse gases. Our transportation system has a profound impact on the overall livability of our city. As the region grows, traffic congestion will continue to grow resulting in greater public health impacts and an increased amount of time spent in traffic unless we can provide better transportation choices for residents and businesses.
Providing better ways to get around is strategy and as such, the Office of Sustainability works with other City departments and agencies to implement transit-, bike- and pedestrian-friendly policies.
Key initiatives under the Mayor’s goals for Sustainable Built Environment Practices and Safe & Efficient Multimodal Transportation include:
- “Complete Streets” Policy
- Improved Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities
- Improved Transit
- Premium Transit including BRT
- Improved Trolley Services
- Support Water Taxis/Cross-Bay Ferry
- Balance of Compact Centers, Affordable Housing, and Walkability
- Create and Enhance Parks & Public Spaces that feature Equitable, Convenient Access for Residents throughout the Community
- Review Land Development Regulations (LDRs) for barriers to sustainable design solutions
- FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) Program – achieve improved score
City Trails & BlueWays
Since the adoption of its "CityTrails Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan" in 2003, the city of St. Petersburg has extended exponentially its bicycle trail network. At the adoption of the "CityTrails," there were 10 miles of bicycle lanes in St. Petersburg. To date, there are nearly 90 miles of bicycle facilities installed with another 15 miles of facilities in design, with completed designs, or under construction at this time. Through its bicycle safety, planning and construction efforts, St. Petersburg has been designated as a "Bicycle Friendly Community" by the League of American Bicyclists. The City has miles of beautiful shoreline, providing paddlers with a variety of opportunities and experiences to explore the coastline and the rich array of marine and estuarine ecosystems through its BlueWays. Click on the links below for maps to trails and BlueWays.
- Guide to the Pinellas Trail
- Bike Trails Map
- Map of Launch Points and Blue Ways Trails
- Pinellas County Blue Ways
Coast Bike Share offers rentals at 30 stations (a total of 300 bikes) in and around the city - guests can now find an available rental location through the Social Bicycles mobile app and then take in St. Pete’s sights for just $8 an hour. Learn more about the Bike Share program.
Complete Streets create better transportation environments for all ages and physical and economic abilities to safely and comfortably move around the city. Complete streets are flexible and take into account their surrounding land use regulations and related transportation network connections. Establishing Complete Streets will enable the City of St. Petersburg to further achieve its status as a city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play.
- Learn more about the Complete Streets program
Through its partnership with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg is well served by public transportation. Of PSTA’s 40 routes, 28 routes directly serve St. Petersburg due to its high population density, major attractors and efficient grid system. All eight of PSTA’s top routes in terms of ridership serve the City. The popular Central Avenue Trolley provides residents and visitors a one-seat ride with 15-minute peak headways from downtown St. Petersburg to Pass-a-Grille Beach. The Central Avenue Trolley’s extended hours of operation make it easy for riders to enjoy evening visits to the shops, attractions and restaurants.
Funded through a public/private partnership, the Downtown Looper Trolley serves as a transportation alternative for residents, employees and visitors in downtown St. Petersburg. Both the Central Avenue Trolley and Looper Trolley include a free fare zone in downtown St. Petersburg.
PSTA’s new Universal Pass (U-Pass) Program allows agencies, major employers, schools, and universities to pay PSTA an annual rate in exchange for unlimited public transit access for their employees or students. The City of St. Petersburg participates in the U-Pass Program.
What’s New with Local Transit - January 2016?
PSTA is currently converting their transit service in downtown St. Petersburg from a hub and spoke system to a grid system. Bus transfers and layovers will no longer occur at Williams Park, but will instead be dispersed throughout the downtown area. Not only are the transfers and layovers dispersed, transit service will be expanded throughout downtown by providing routes along roadways where service was previously non-existent.
The City, PSTA and Pinellas County have been actively working to develop and implement a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service to serve the Central Avenue corridor and provide a viable alternative to personal vehicles because of its frequent service, long operating hours and limited number of stops. The BRT route will connect neighborhoods to major destinations in downtown St. Petersburg. Other goals of the BRT service are to support local revitalization and economic development plans, improve livability and enhance safety and access for pedestrians and bicyclists. It is envisioned that the BRT service will eventually extend to the Gulf beaches, which would enhance tourism. The anticipated start of service is 2020/21.
Fleet and Alternative Fuels
The city of St. Petersburg takes measures to reduce costs and improve its environmental performance by maintaining its fleet vehicles for efficiency and emissions, operating its own Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station, recycling waste oil, antifreeze and other materials, and using environmentally friendly cleaning solvents.
The city's entire diesel-engine fleet, which comprises over 630 vehicles, is powered by bio-diesel fuel. The cost is essentially the same as regular diesel, but the greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 5 to 10 percent.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger Stations
There are approximately 25 EV stations located in St. Petersburg. The city of St. Petersburg owns and operates thirteen Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger Stations located in downtown and the Grand Central District. City-owned charging stations are FREE at this time. Other fee information is unknown at this time.
Nine of the city-owned charging stations are operated through the ChargePoint network, enabling drivers of EVs to park and charge using a ChargePass card, a smartphone app or a RFID equipped credit card. To order a card, download an app (available for iphone, Android and Blackberry), to activate a card or for more information visit www.mychargepoint.net.
The EV map shows the locations of charging stations and highlights the ChargePoint Stations.
Neighborhood, Corridors and Centers: Reorganizing the new LDRs into three (3) major development districts, Neighborhoods, Corridors and Centers, is important in the effort to address climate change. Reinvestment in these districts allows the City to concentrate new growth within the existing development fabric thereby reducing the need for new roads and infrastructure and reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by encouraging walking, biking and use of public transportation. It also preserves the City's remaining environmentally sensitive areas and coastlines, which function as carbon sinks and are important in helping to mitigate against catastrophic storm surge. The sections below highlight some of the land use policies that implement a sustainable St. Pete.
Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
The 2007 LDRs significantly increased the maximum density and intensity allowed within major corridors and designated centers. Since increased density and intensity is a primary component of successful TOD projects, the City of St. Petersburg is already positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for TOD.
Green Building Incentives
Commercial and residential construction permit applications approved after February 22, 2007 are eligible for a partial refund of permit fees if the structure constructed is certified as a green structure. For residential construction, the structure must satisfy all the requirements of the current Green Home Designation Standard of the Florida Green Building Coalition. Upon receipt of sufficient evidence of this certification of the structure, the City will refund $300.00 of the permit fee paid. For commercial construction, the structure must satisfy all the requirements of the most current USGBC LEED standard. Upon receipt of sufficient evidence of this certification of the structure, the City will refund $1,000.00 of the permit fee paid. For development of vacant land of one acre or more, the structures and site must satisfy all the requirements of the most current USGBC LEED standard. Upon receipt of sufficient evidence of this certification of the structures and site, the City will refund $2,500.00 of the permit fee paid. View incentive details on the municode site.
Native and Florida-Friendly Plant Requirements
These regulations include a new plant list that has been significantly expanded and modified to emphasize the importance of Florida native plants. Created in cooperation with representatives from the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), the new plant list identifies whether qualified plants are Florida native and also includes watering and light requirements. Additionally, revised parking lot landscaping requirements are designed to minimize heat island effects. View details about these plants on the municode site.
St. Augustine Sod Restrictions and Ground Cover Incentives
St. Augustine is a water-intensive turf whose popularity, in both residential and commercial applications, is straining local water supplies, particularly during periods of drought. As a part of the City’s landscaping and irrigation codes, Florida-native plant material is encouraged, and permeable areas limit the installation of St. Augustine sod turf. In addition, these regulations include financial incentives for substituting St. Augustine turf with drought tolerant varieties of turf as well as lot coverage restrictions:
- For new one- and two-unit residential construction, the City will refund $150.00 of the permit fee paid.
- For non-residential and multifamily construction, the City will refund $300.00 of the permit fee paid.
- The determination of the eligibility for the refund shall be made upon the final inspection by the City.
- For non-residential or multifamily construction, one required interior landscape island shall be waived.
Tree and Mangrove Protection
The City's urban tree canopy provides a vital function in minimizing heat island effects and reprocessing carbon-based emissions, which are believed to contribute to climate change. These regulations are intended to conserve the existing urban tree canopy in a meaningful way. Additionally, the City finds that mangroves, including Red Mangroves, Black Mangroves and White Mangroves, are an essential component of the estuarine food chain, supporting the commercial and recreational fisheries of Tampa Bay. Currently the State of Florida regulates mangrove activity; however, if the protections currently guaranteed by state law are ever eliminated, the trimming or cutting of mangroves is prohibited by the new LDRs. See details about trees and mangroves at the municode site.
These regulations are intended to minimize light pollution, glare and trespass; conserve energy while maintaining nighttime safety, security, and productivity; protect the privacy of residents; minimize disturbance of wildlife; enhance the ambiance of the community; and ensure optimal viewing of night skies above St. Petersburg. Get more information on light pollution at the municode site.
Historic and Archaeological Preservation Overlay
The preservation and adaptive reuse of historic structures is the ultimate recycling, green building program. These regulations recognize that the preservation, protection, perpetuation and use of landmarks, landmark sites and historic districts is a public necessity because they have special values, such as sustainable development through the minimal use of newly harvested, raw materials.
Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings Overlay
Encourages the retention and productive reuse of historic structures by allowing certain land use types and design flexibilities that make preservation financially competitive with demolition. Codes are online at the municode site.
Transfer Development Rights (TDRs) Historic Preservation
Grants development credits for the local designation of historic structures. These credits may be sold and transferred off-site into a receiver district. This program was designed to make historic preservation financially competitive with alternative development options.
Community gardens are an activity on property where more than one person grows produce and horticultural plants for their personal consumption and enjoyment, donation to a not-for-profit organization or sale at a farmer's market, generally on a not-for-profit basis. The popularity of, and demand for, community gardens has grown significantly in recent years. The multiple benefits of community gardens include: decreased municipal costs, physical exercise, improved nutrition, local food production, youth education, horticultural therapy, crime prevention, etc. These regulations establish use-specific criteria enabling the installation of community gardens throughout the city. Find details at the municode site.