New Hillsborough report links civil rights and urban planning

TAMPA, Fla. — For the past year and a half, Plan Hillsborough has been investigating past discriminatory planning with the county that will soon be released in a public report.

Urban renewal is a term often used to describe the process of cleaning up run-down neighborhoods to increase property values ​​and attract public and private investment.


What do you want to know

  • Plan Hillsborough agency is investigating past discriminatory practices in county planning
  • According to the agency, historically, some developments have done more harm than good
  • Plan Hillsborough Staff

According to Plan Hillsborough, historically some of this development has done more harm than good.

Hillsborough mapan agency made up of employees who serve the Hillsborough County Planning Commission, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board, provides coordinated land use planning , transportation and the Hillsborough River for the four local governments in Hillsborough County.

“Tampa in this neighborhood [Central Avenue Business District] was a thriving diverse melting pot,” Ronald Nelson of Tampa said. “It was Black Wall Street!”

What was once the Central Avenue business district is now commemorated with murals, statues and pathways at Perry Harvey Park.

Nelson says his father and grandmother were moved.

“She was forced to move because of the construction of I-275,” Nelson added.

His family’s story is one of many documented in a Plan Hllsborough Report.

“The history of civil rights is deeply tied to the history of town planning,” said Plan Hillsborough community planner Joshua Barber.

By the 1970s, Central Avenue—the predominantly African-American community between Tampa and Ybor City—was no more.

Barber researched the original planning documents.

“This[ Central Avenue Business District] was described as a devastated slum area that needed to be cleaned up,” he said.

In 2018, the organization updated its Equity and Non-Discrimination Plan for the first time in 10 years to be in compliance with Title IV and the Civil Rights Act.

However, after the social justice movement, the agency went further and offered awareness training within its own agency.

“How can we actively address the disparities within these communities in our work?”, one of the questions Plan Hillsborough is actively tackling.

“I really hope he [report] provides a foundation upon which the public and our elected leaders and other decision makers can truly advance racial equity in all areas of public life,” he said.

A draft of the historical report is currently available online. The final report will be published next week.