Rene Plasencia in Session

Phone conversation with Rene Plasencia

Rene Plasencia

Rene Plasencia

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to speak by phone with Rene “Coach P” Plasencia.  Rene Plasencia is a member of the Florida House of Representatives who represents District 49 which includes East Orange County.  He was born in Orlando and attended UCF and was a coach and government teacher at Colonial High School so he is well aware of our area and the traffic issues in this area.

We spoke for some time about East Orange County and the traffic problems.  He has lived in Orlando and while attending UCF lived in one of the HOAs close to UCF.  He is aware of every road that has problems and is working with others to a solution.  In fact he was on the board at MetroPlan before becoming our state representative.

John Mica profile

John Mica profile

We also discussed the Lake Pickett properties and how until a plan is in place to fix the roads, adding any more development to the area would only be detrimental and cause additional problems.  He mentioned U.S. Congressman John Mica and how he is  aware of the issues in East Orange County.  Mr. Plasencia said he would be talking with Commissioner Edwards and Commissioner Thompson as well as the Mayor about these issues.

The reason I spoke with Mr. Plasencia is because he is our state representative and Hwy 50 is a state road.  Our problems are more than county problems.  They include both Orange and Seminole Counties, State as well as the Expressway Authority.  We need to contact all of these government officials to get as much focus on East Orange County as possible.

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Board of County Commissioners

Why is the BCC ruling on the 1/13/2015 Lake Pickett Cluster Plan important

Lake Pickett Cluster Plan Community Meeting Notice

Lake Pickett Cluster Plan Community Meeting Notice

On 1/13/2015, I attended and spoke at the BCC meeting regarding the Lake Pickett Cluster Plan which allowed a nominally higher density on the property going from .85 units per acre to 1 unit per acre effectively adding 50 units to the property.

I was not in opposition to the re-zoning but I was also not in favor of it in other words I held a neutral position.  The reason is because I didn’t feel I had a right to directly oppose the re-zoning as I live a good distance from the land being re-zoned and I knew the Lake Pickett Rural Settlement where the property resides was in favor of the density change.  However, I spoke at the BCC meeting because of our traffic situation and wanted to impress again that any additional re-zoning will have an impact on the traffic in the area.

So why is a very minor change that would add about 50 units allowing instead of 325 homes to 383 homes so important.  Again it is about the traffic.  Two other residents who are also members from SOC were there in opposition to the re-zoning.  One lived adjacent to the property.  SOC and I agree that re-zoning land in this area will adversely affect traffic.  Allowances such as this have caused our traffic problems with the most major allowance being “Entitlements” granted in 1991 that spawned Cypress Lakes HOA and Corner Lakes HOA at 419 and 50 and more.  These developments were allowed to be built with no infrastructure improvements to 50.    I have heard the number of 1,200 more units that are entitled but that number is yet to be verified.  SOC is working on getting the actual number of entitlements left to be built.

Before throwing blame at the county for all this, understand that the community has vehemently opposed any changes to the rural area which in the county’s eyes means no infrastructure changes.  There are other factors that have contributed to additional traffic on the roads such as more people coming in from the coast, more people in Wedgefield and the opening of Avalon Parkway to 50.  I am sure you can think of many more but the bottom line is more cars on the road with no changes.  But because anything east of the Econ is in the RSA (Rural Service Area), no funding is allocated to fix the roads.  We need to change this mindset and get the county focused on road improvements to keep up with the demand.

This particular re-zoning was on the Consent Agenda.  That means it was really already approved and needed to be rubber stamped.  The three of us speaking at this hearing should not have even been allowed as you will hear the mayor say.  So in my mind there was no point in opposing it.  My focus was on the traffic.

Below is the entire hearing which lasted about 17 minutes.

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Traffic

East Orange asks for gridlock help

This article was in the Orlando Sentinel today talking about the traffic problems in East Orange County.  It as some great information on what Commissioner Edwards has to say as well as Renzo Nastasi, the Orange County traffic manager.

David Breen is the reporter at the Sentinel that wrote the article.

East Orange asks for gridlock help

East Orange asks for gridlock help

When R.J. Mueller moved to east Orange County in 1993, his neighborhood was surrounded by fields.

Now it’s surrounded by cars.

And gridlock.

“This was country — I mean, real country,” he says of the area along McCulloch Road, just outside the UCF campus. “And I don’t mind the development. Except for this.”

“This” is the twice-daily deluge of traffic that brings the area to a screeching halt.

Mueller appeared earlier this month at a County Commission meeting, showing commissioners video of a recent morning rush hour.

The video showed drivers merging into an unending stream of traffic in a slow-motion free-for all, making up their own rules of the road on the fly.

Mueller blames what he calls a “perfect storm” of thousands of new homes, UCF’s explosive expansion and the fact that transportation money has historically flowed to the urban core of the county rather than to the east.

Commissioner Ted Edwards, who calls the traffic “absolutely horrific,” is asking his colleagues for money to speed up improvements.

Earlier this month he wrote a memo to Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the County Commission noting that “for many years, East Orange County has suffered from a lack of investment in its transportation infrastructure.”

Edwards is seeking options, such as issuing bonds or increasing sales tax, to address the east side’s traffic woes. A ballot initiative would be needed to approve any increase in sales tax.

In addition to growth and years of being a low funding priority, Edwards points to geography as a contributing factor.
“A major problem is that the Econ River serves as a natural barrier to east-west movement, so that forces you to [S.R.] 50,” Edwards said. “Essentially, you have 50 or you have McCulloch Road — that’s the only east-west movement in that part of the county.”

It won’t always be this way, said county transportation planning manager Renzo Nastasi. Design and engineering work are under way on what’s known as the Richard Crotty Parkway. It will run just north of S.R. 50 from Semoran Boulevard to Dean Road, adding a third east-west option to the area.

But that road, Nastasi said, is five to seven years from opening.

In the nearer term, S.R. 50 is being widened to six lanes by FDOT from State Road 436 to Avalon Park Boulevard. There are also plans — but no money yet — to continue the six-laning as far east as S.R. 520.

Nastasi said improvements, such as new signals and turn lanes, have either been completed or are in the works for a number of east-side intersections.

“While we may not be able to go out and widen all the roads in east Orange County, we can still manage the traffic through some of these major intersection improvements,” he said. “And frankly that’s where a lot of the bottlenecks are, at these intersections.”

Nastasi said the area’s traffic woes have been exacerbated by the economic downturn and changes in state law.

He points out that impact fees, the primary funding source for road improvements, have fallen from about $35 million to $40 million a year at the height of the housing boom to about $10 million today. In addition, the state Legislature in 2011 did away with what’s known as “transportation concurrency.”

Under the old law, “we could stop a development from proceeding if the road wasn’t able to absorb the impact of that particular development,” Nastasi said.

Now, a developer doesn’t have to account for pre-existing road deficiencies — only for the additional traffic caused by its projects.

“That’s limited our ability to have a bigger hammer in terms of development,” Nastasi said.

That leaves the County Commission in a bind when it comes to future development projects. While fierce resident opposition has caused some developers to back off on east-side plans, Edwards said, “we’re not supposed to turn down projects due to existing traffic problems that aren’t created by that project.”

For Mueller and his neighbors, the daily traffic grind isn’t going away anytime soon. But he’s hopeful that the problem is finally getting the attention it deserves.

“I don’t think there’s any short-term fix to this,” he said, pointing at the thickening traffic rolling by. “But we have to start somewhere.”

dbreen@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5189

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traffic light

This is an interesting tidbit about how traffic lights work on University Blvd.

From: rj@fixmyroadway.com [mailto:rj@fixmyroadway.com]

Sent: Friday, January 23, 2015 12:17 PM
To: Rozier, Ruby
Subject: Traffic light at University Blvd and Rouse Road

Ruby,

I travel south on Rouse almost every night at around 5pm and get stuck at the light on University for at least two very long turns.   I think the light is at the most set to 15 seconds so only a few cars are able to get through at one time.  Just a 10-15 second increase would not affect the traffic on University and would substantially help the flow of traffic on Rouse going south.  Almost all the cars could get through on one turn instead of waiting 2-3 turns.

Any chance of this happening?

RJ
________________________________________________________________

ANSWER:

From: Ruby.Rozier@ocfl.net [mailto:Ruby.Rozier@ocfl.net]
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2015 3:52 PM
To: rj@fixmyroadway.com
Cc: Hector.Bertran@ocfl.net; Bill.Harper@ocfl.net
Subject: RE: Traffic light at University Blvd and Rouse Road

RJ:

This traffic signal operates under adaptive traffic signal control using a system known as SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique). What this means is that a computer is actually measuring traffic flow and establishing the signal cycle off-sets. The system is in place along the University Boulevard corridor. Unfortunately, SCOOT favors the main road which carries over 50,000 vehicles per day.  Rouse Road north of University has about 10,000 vpd.  We can tweak the traffic signal timing if we turn SCOOT off.  At this time, we do not recommend turning SCOOT off.

Ruby

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Ted Edwards District 5 Commissioner

Infrastructure funding memo from Commissioner Edwards to Mayor Jacobs

Infrastructure funding memo from Ted Edwards to Mayor Jacobs

Infrastructure funding memo from Ted Edwards to Mayor Jacobs

Click the link below to read the memo written by Commissioner Edwards to Mayor Jacobs dated 1/15/2015. He is asking for funding ideas to fix the roads in East Orange County.

Commissioner Edwards explains the traffic situation and reasons why East Orange County is behind the curve in terms of infrastructure improvements.

He also explains that the Orange County staff is working on an analysis to identify the needs in East Orange County.

He then asks the mayor to instruct the county staff to provide the board with financial options to fund the new infrastructure improvements.

Click the link below to read the memo.

Transportation Funding Memo from Edwards to Mayor

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Board of County Commissioners

1/13/2015 BCC meeting – traffic presentation

I had the opportunity to go down to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners meeting and talk about traffic during the public comment section of the meeting.  I presented this video to the Mayor and Commissioners to help keep focus on the traffic problem out here in East Orange County and see what we can do to solve these problems.

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Orange County Comprehensive Plan

What is the Orange County Comprehensive Plan

Orange County Comprehensive Plan

Orange County Comprehensive Plan

The Orange County Comprehensive Plan guides what Orange County will look like in the year 2030? The Comprehensive Plan embodies a community vision for guiding growth in Orange County. It helps the County manage growth to ensure the quality of life desired by Orange County residents.

The County’s Comprehensive Plan includes a Future Land Use (FLU) Map, with FLU designations for all property in unincorporated Orange County. These designations limit what you can do with your land.  But the designations can be modified through the Comprehensive Plan Amendment process.  Orange County accepts applications twice a year to modify your land use designation with separate schedules for parcels under or over ten acres.

Applications are divided into “Regular Cycle” and “Small Scale Cycle” amendments. Regular Cycle amendments are for properties more than 10 acres and Small Scale Cycles are less than 10 acres.

Related links:

Orange County Comprehensive Plan Summary
Orange County Comprehensive Plan

Orange County Planning 2013 Quick Reference Guide

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