November 2020 – Throughout the course of history, racial discrimination has been evident in transportation and land use planning. In Hillsborough County, neighborhood clearing was manifested in the construction of I-275 and I-4 which were used to divide African American communities and eliminate the Central Avenue Business District. After a wave of protests for racial justice in Spring 2020, Plan Hillsborough committee members and staff were motivated to take a renewed look at racial equity in transportation and land use planning locally. A Racial Equity Resolution unanimously approved by the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Citizens Advisory Committee and the MPO Board in August 2020 acknowledges that planning decisions of the past have had negative consequences on communities of color and resolves the agency to take action addressing those inequities.
Several changes have already taken place. All staff were required to attend a series of mandatory Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging webinars and virtual workshops over the past few months. The agency is identifying ways to institutionalize equity into our plans and processes.
This equity initiative coincides with the scheduled update of the MPO’s Title VI and Nondiscrimination Plan. The plan is updated every three years to demonstrate the Hillsborough MPO’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and several other federal acts as required by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). For this update, an Equity Working Group was formed to guide the planning process, two equity planning and outreach consultants were hired, and the agency’s administration has asked project planning staff to expand the plan to address equity in the land development plans and processes of the Planning Commission.
The project is in its early stages and is scheduled for completion in the Summer of 2021. Planning staff are currently writing a history report on discriminatory planning in Hillsborough County, creating maps identifying the location of underserved communities across the County, and beginning early public engagement.
Personal stories and recommendations from the public will be a key component of this Nondiscrimination Plan update. Please sign up to provide your story or assist in the public engagement process at the following link: bit.ly/2021ndplansignup and visit the project webpage at www.planhillsborough.org/title-vi-and-nondiscrimination-plan. For more information, contact Project Planner Dayna Lazarus at email@example.com or (813) 582-7383.