TO: Local Planning Agency
FROM: Bill Spikowski
DATE: August 29, 1996
SUBJECT: Level-of-Service Standards
During the summer we have undertaken a preliminary analysis of an important component of your new comprehensive plan, the establishment of "level of service" (LOS) standards. These standards are required by Florida's growth management laws; once adopted, they must be met at all times or no further development permits may be issued. This uniquely Florida requirement is known as concurrency. (Local governments can also adopt additional types of LOS standards that may or may not trigger concurrency.)
The following chart summarizes the LOS standards used by Lee County as of 1/1/96 that could trigger the concurrency requirement. These standards currently apply to Fort Myers Beach (although Lee County has since amended some of them for its own use). The final column contains some preliminary observations on how the town might use or adapt these standards in its own comprehensive plan.
|Lee Plan LOS Standards||Fort Myers Beach Ideas|
|Potable Water||Water supply and treatment capacity of 250 gallons per day per typical home during the busiest month||This is a county-wide standard; it should probably be replaced with localized data from Florida Cities Water Co.|
|Sanitary Sewer||Sewer treatment and disposal capacity of 200 gallons per day per typical home during the busiest month||This is a county-wide standard; it should probably be replaced with localized data from Lee County Utilities.|
|Solid Waste||Trash disposal capacity for 7 pounds of waste or equivalent volume per day per person||Since trash service is provided by Lee County, the LOS standard should be similar. However, the 7-pound figure pre-dates recycling and is probably obsolete.|
|Parks/Recreation||7.0 acres of developed regional park land open for public use per thousand total (county-wide) population||It is not likely that the county will turn over its regional parks to the town, so there may be no reason to adopt any regional park standard.|
|0.8 acres of developed standard community parks open for public use per thousand population (unincorporated county only)||Based on Bay Oaks' land (49 acres) and permanent Beach residents (about 6,200), the current figure computes to 7.9 per thousand. A better local standard should be selected for your plan, one that reflects the maximum capacity of Bay Oaks park and the build-out population.|
|Stormwater Management||Designated evacuation routes shall not be flooded for more than 24 hours by rainfall from a "25-year, 3-day" storm||This flooding standard is weak and obsolete; DCA now provides greater latitude to adopt reasonable local standards.|
|New development (except widening of existing roads) shall hold excess stormwater to match the predevelopment discharge rates for a "25-year, 3-day" storm||This is the accepted standard for new development and should probably be retained.|
|Roads||New roads shall be designed to
provide LOS "C." County arterial
roads shall provide at least LOS "E"
after 12/31/99; until then, LOS levels
can be averaged within nine designated
traffic districts |
(see discussion below)
|(see discussion below)|
|Mass Transit||(no standard established)||(apparently optional, but state guidance should be sought before deciding not to adopt an LOS standard for mass transit)|
The most troublesome LOS standard at Fort Myers Beach will be for roads, where the town is caught in an almost hopeless quagmire caused by three factors:
The Lee County road standard described above will most likely not be available to Fort Myers Beach. Its very low service level was accepted by the state only as part of an extremely complex settlement agreement in 1989, some terms of which are still being litigated. The side-effect of this standard on the crowded roads at Fort Myers Beach was a major concern to DCA in 1989, and the resulting virtual suspension of concurrency along Estero Boulevard make its acceptance again quite unlikely (regardless of other virtues of that settlement agreement).
Since 1989, DCA has adopted several rules with the potential to ease the concurrency burden of road LOS standards under certain conditions, such as overwhelming but fixable backlogs in road construction, or crowded but otherwise desirable urban areas. These rules now allow:
Unfortunately, all of these approaches comes with numerous limitations and sometimes burdensome rules. Due to these restrictions, they haven't been used frequently by local governments, and may not be suitable for Fort Myers Beach. The "ideal" concurrency management system for roads will be one that minimizes conflict and litigation with the state; avoids indiscriminate shut-downs of development; and aims public expenditures towards transportation improvements that would make sense even in the absence of concurrency. These improvements might include better public transportation; minor upgrades to the road system; additional sidewalks and bike paths; and better links between water transportation, airport and local buses, and similar methods of broadening the transportation system. The identification of these improvements and the choice of the best concurrency management system for roads should be a major focus of the Transportation Element of your comprehensive plan.