April 2022 – The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission and Hillsborough County were recognized at the 28th Annual Future of the Region Awards for its integration of Climate Change and Resiliency language into the Unincorporated Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan. Much of the integration focused on the Coastal Management Section of the Comprehensive Plan which provides planning and policy direction for development activities in the Coastal Planning Area of Hillsborough County. The Coastal Management Section’s role is to ensure that development in the coastal area does not adversely impact public accessibility to the coast, adequate public hurricane shelter space is available to coastal inhabitants, levels of service on evacuation routes are maintained, water-dependent and water-related land uses are given priority on the coast, and that public decisions will include consideration of coastal hazards in the land use decision-making process.
Seventy new policy recommendations addressing climate change, sea level rise, and resiliency from a recent Community Vulnerability Study were recommended to be adopted into the Comprehensive Plan. The Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the new policy direction and lauded the effort. This effort also brought Hillsborough County into compliance with the Florida Peril of Flood legislation by locally addressing the risk of flooding including flooding from sea level rise. The Hillsborough County Community Vulnerability Study and its policy recommendations have become a model for the state of Florida, and this has been exceptionally followed up with the integration of its policies into the Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan.