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Winter Park Density and Traffic

Fellow Winter Park Residents,

Strategic issues are at the top of my mind as I serve as your city commissioner.

As the central Florida area grows, I hear complaints from some Winter Park residents about density (more people) and increased traffic. Some of this is politically motivated badgering and some is genuine frustration.

Turns out there are facts that can give us a clear picture of reality. I propose we discuss reality as a community, rather than accept ranting and dogma as a substitute for facts and well thought out policy. Here are a couple of starting points.

Density: Winter Park Population

This from the 2002 Winter Park Comprehensive Annual Report: “The City currently occupies a land area of approximately nine square miles and serves a population of 26,377.”

This from the 2017 Winter Park Comprehensive Annual Report: “The City currently occupies a land area of approximately nine square miles and serves a population of 29,317.” Total area has recently been updated to 10.4 square miles to fully account for prior annexations, of which 1.7 square miles is lakes.

Winter Park population has grown by about 3,000 people over the past 15 years, 11% total growth. Where did this growth come from?

  • Annexations since 2002 have added approximately 1,275 people when they occurred, primarily along Lee Road and adjoining neighborhoods.
  • Development of the Wind Song area, Pennsylvania Place, and Hamilton Place brought approximately 700 new Winter Park residents.
  • The balance of about 1,000 people can be attributed to population growth in the annexed areas, two recent apartment buildings on Denning Drive, single family lot splits, and downtown condominiums.

The metro Orlando area (MSA) had a population of about 1,600,000 in 2000 and is estimated to be over 2,500,000 in 2017, 56% growth over the past 17 years.

Your city commission last year removed High Density Residential Zoning (R4 – 25 units per acre) from the Comprehensive Plan (see page 1). Property already Zoned R4 can apply for this level of residential density. For example, The Mayflower community off Aloma is currently expanding on its existing vacant land with R4 zoning.

Medium Density residential zoning and Low Density residential zoning apply to some properties. Medium Density is up to 17 units per acre resulting in a maximum average floor area per unit of 2,500 square feet. Low Density is up to 12 units per acre resulting in a maximum average floor area per unit of 3,600 square feet. Thus, the remaining multi-unit residential zoning categories will most often result in high value units with fee-simple ownership, not in rental units. There are only a few properties in Winter Park with existing R2, R3, and R4 zoning that are not currently developed to their full residential entitlement. Approvals dating back to 2011 in Ravaudage at Lee Road and 17/92 will add about 1,000 people in apartments currently under construction.

Density Conclusion

  • Population growth in Winter Park has been and will continue to be very gradual.
  • Given existing R2, R3, and R4 zoned properties, we can expect some build out over time that will add marginally to our population. In 15 more years Winter Park population might grow another 11% given these current residential zoning entitlements.
  • Population growth surrounding Winter Park has been and will continue to be substantial, expected to grow from 2,500,000 to 3,300,000 by 2030.

Traffic: Winter Park Traffic Counts

Orange county maintains a GIS database that allows you to quickly see the historical traffic counts at various locations. Click here to see the map and zoom in on Winter Park. Here is a sample location on Aloma about a half mile East of Park Avenue:

Check out the historic traffic counts and trends on various roads in Winter Park. What is your conclusion?

The Winter Park City Commission has no say over population outside the city limits of Winter Park and related traffic impacts.

I am focused on managing what is within our purview and welcome your input and insights.

Please comment on this post! What do the population and traffic realities tell you about policy for Winter Park? What should your commission do given these realities?

Regards, Pete Weldon
Vice Mayor, City of Winter Park

Posted in Development, Policy.

36 Responses

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  1. Pitt Warner says

    Looks to me like drivers are reconsidering cutting through WP. The 3 data points near me on WP Road, Glenridge and Gen. Rees show reduced traffic levels compared to 10-15 years ago. I’m guessing alternative routes are producing quicker commutes.

    As long as future commissions follow the decisions of this commission and past commissions to limit height and FAR of residential and commercial, WP will continue to thrive.

  2. Kip Marchman says

    Thanks for the statistics that illustrate our traffic problems are largely caused by pass-through traffic not city growth. We need to encourage a return to horse and buggy days

    • Peter Weldon says

      But then we would need a City of Winter Park Department of Animal Waste Cleanup!

    • Pitt Warner says

      Next time I see you I will share my perceptive analysis on the future of WP-it contains hitching posts and horse troughs on Park Ave. In a nutshell, in the future it will be chic to be primitive. Remind me the next time you see me.

  3. Mike Schweitzer says

    Thank you Commission Pete, this gives a real good view of what has happened in the past years and expectations for the future based on facts, not the rumors running around.
    Winter Park is impacted by Orlando, the growth in Maitland and other surrounding communities. The growth of condos near downtown Winter Park with ease of walking to Park Avenue is actually a benefit to reducing cars off of feeder streets to Park Ave.
    I hope everyone reads these actual statistics and it calms the undocumented fears so many hold.

  4. Cliff Smith says

    Quality of life is about PERCEPTION rather than statistics. In other words if everyone you speak with complains about the increased traffic and FEELING of density, then there’s something to it.

    But the even bigger issue is the stupendous noise increase in and around town, perhaps unverifiable by statistical measurement, but again quality of life shouts to be heard.


    • Peter Weldon says

      Thanks for your comment. But what if your perception does not reflect reality? Should the commission spend your tax dollars investing in policies that do not reflect reality and thereby waste your money? What to do? As an example, we are spending $150,000 on “smart traffic signaling” technology on Aloma near Lakemont. I supported this given the complaints about traffic in the hope it might do some good. It turns out “hope” is not a strategy. We will spend this money only to confirm that during rush hour the traffic at Lakemont and Aloma exceeds the capacity of the road. You will wait just as long during rush hour with and without having spent $150,000 of your money. It turns out you may save a few seconds at 10 PM when the “smart signal” technology can change the light to your advantage when it senses no cars coming as cross traffic.

  5. Nestor de Armas says

    Thank you for this data. It is very helpful. Is there data about the extent to which “shopping center” development within Winter Park impact our traffic flows?

    • Peter Weldon says

      Thanks for commenting. There is no direct answer and it likely doesn’t matter. The former K-Mart Shopping Plaza now has about 244,000 square feet of retail, commercial and restaurant use and about 1050 parking spaces (close to what code requires). We could have had roller blade races in that parking lot for several years after the K-Mart closed. About the same time, Trader Joe’s opened down the street and its parking lot was full most of the time. We build to code. We can’t control who comes to the stores. Ideas?

  6. Charlotte Hunter says

    I would like the Commission to consider studying a road diet for Aloma/Fairbanks Avenue between Lakemont Avenue and New England Avenue. Commuter/business traffic there, morning and evening, creates safety hazards for any and all Winter Park residents who live nearby. Walking or biking along that stretch of Aloma/Fairbanks is dangerous and always unpleasant–I walk and bike there frequently–a state that should be considered intolerable within our city. Commuter traffic, especially those passing through to and from I-4, have alternate routes through Maitland or along E.Colonial Drive (and other venues); painful and irritating, perhaps, but those who see our city and its neighborhoods as mere landscape on their way to I-4 and elsewhere are not my concern. A road diet would not only slow down the almost-always speeding cars and trucks, but would at last allow bikers to leave the sidewalks to pedestrians (biking that stretch of road is a foolhardy act, as things are), and pedestrians to walk without having to dodge bicycles or cringe against hedges for fear of being hit by traffic on the road. Cars and commuters do NOT own the roads–these belong to all tax-paying citizens–and they do NOT possess an intrinsic right to unfettered use of these without regard to those who live alongside or near the roads. Let’s work with Orange County and the state to turn that section of Aloma/Fairbanks into what it should be: A safe space with limited and primarily local traffic.

    • Peter Weldon says

      Great comment… The most significant challenge in addressing a road diet for Aloma/Fairbanks is getting the Florida Department of Transportation to agree to it as they have jurisdiction over this road as well as 17.92. I have asked about getting control of these roads from FDOT for years and been repeatedly told it will never happen. FDOT’s reason for being is to increase and balance traffic flow, not decrease and imbalance it. Wish I could offer more hope on this but I will keep trying to push the idea.

  7. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the info….i decided to raise my family in winter park because I wanted to live in a city with predominantly single family homes and larger lot zoning. As that changes my desire to live here changes. The city only needs population growth if it wants to outspend its tax base. I am not in favor of splitting lots or high density construction. There are a lot of other places I could choose to live if I wanted to live amongst smaller lots/ higher density. The commission should consider a tax benefit to those who remove density, as it’s a public good, similar to a park.

    Thanks for your service to the city, most, including myself, would not spend the time or effort the commission does to try to make this town a nice place to live.

    • Peter Weldon says

      Thank-you for your thoughtful comments.

    • Randy Vance says

      Doesn’t increasing development increase the tax base? On balance the developments along 17/92 and Lee Road have replaced blighted areas. Multi family residential out there along with improved shopping and dining isn’t bad. I’ve debated on both side is this issue but what I would ultimately like to see is more respect for the traditional R-1 neighborhoods and less tendency to amend the zoning maps to create so-called transitions from C-x and O-x to R-1. Let the old R-1 stand and transitions aren’t necessary. If R-1 residents didn’t have to give up their family meal time to rush to city council and protest High-density encroachment on their neighborhoods, a lot of pressure would be relieved on the commission and the neighborhood.

  8. Mary says

    Thanks for the info, Peter.

  9. Mary R Randall says


  10. Marion Gilliam says

    Pete, Thank you for looking at the problem. As I am sure you know, the biggest problems, that I see, are vehicles coming in and out to the east.This is on both Aloma, and Lakemonte / Glenridge Way. I am sure there are other locations that are just as bad. If we could get more people to use the Beltway, and the East West Expressway. that would relieve these these problems. This might be done by lowering the tolls, or widening the roads. There is no easy solution. Good luck.

  11. stephen hightower says

    We rely way too much on averages to discuss issues. We have our average daily traffic count, but we don’t have access to the peak traffic times and volumes thru certain traffic patterns or I couldn’t find how to access it. Being data driven should focus on the peaks and capacity analysis.

    The problem with averages are that they tell you nothing about the actual incidents and often gives you a misleading big picture. What I can tell you is that what used to take me 10 minutes to get to Lee Road now takes me 20 at peak times. It’s only the peak periods that really matter and until we discuss that with data, speaking to averages is misleading.

    Consider the case of the statistician who drowns while fording a river that he calculates is, on average, three feet deep. If he were alive to tell the tale, he would expound on the “flaw of averages,” which states, simply, that plans based on assumptions about average conditions usually go wrong. This basic but almost always unseen flaw shows up everywhere in business, distorting accounts, undermining forecasts, and dooming apparently well-considered projects to disappointing results.

    • Peter Weldon says

      The peak and directional data is included. To access it, click on an orange dot, scroll to the bottom of the pop-up window. There are two linked files, “Roadway_Count_Summary.pdf” and “Peak_Hourly_Graph.gif.”

      Road capacity is well understood by traffic engineers. Here are some typical benchmarks: Put these numbers next to the actual counts on Aloma, 17/92, et al.

      I am looking for better ideas on managing traffic through Winter Park and welcome all thoughts.

      • WP Anon says

        In my 20+ years as a resident of the Lakemont corridor I have found that the opening of Lakemont to Baldwin Park increased the evening commute volume significantly. Living on the west side of Lakemont south of Aloma and attempting to cross or merge into northbound traffic is nearly impossible.
        While blocking the roadway like it was when the Navy base was there will not happen, a possible traffic deterrent like the bricking of N. Park Avenue & Pennsylvania may provide a solution.

  12. Carl E Creasman Jr says

    Good post and info Pete. Being surrounded in total by metro Orlando, I think there is no way not to feel the general sense of increasing crowdedness or “density.” Clearly, though, the facts presented show that Winter Park continues to be an oasis. We’ve had little growth and the traffic is flat. Where, according to the site you gave, it seems higher…along 17/92 of course makes sense knowing that I4 has been under construction. Long time residents of the region are going to continue to face frustrations and concerns as more people and more cars come our way. Hopefully we don’t start hearing WP residents suggest things like trying to impede those living outside the city from driving through.

  13. Carl E Creasman Jr says

    But Marion Gilliam, looking at the info page that Pete sent, both Aloma and Lakemont are lower overall. Clicking the Aloma to Lakemont button, in the first decade of the 2000s, it was in the low 40k and in 2017 it was 38k (40k in 2016). For Lakemont to Glenridge, it was between 16k-20k in the first decade and then in 2017 it was 18k, so right in the same average. Even better, from 2010-2015, it was 19k…so a bit lower. Even clicking the data points on Aloma outside of the city limits, towards Goldenrod, the data continues to show a slight decline in volume. I think the data, more fairly, says there hasn’t really been any change at all in the volume of traffic on these roads over the past 20 years (or, a slight change to less traffic).

  14. Jack Miles says

    As a person who pushes to get facts and data, this tells the story. looking in the rear view mirror, I wonder if some of the initiatives to address shooting the traffic flow, adjusting traffic lights and similar steps should have been initiates sooner to address the flow of traffic as the I4 Ultimate project commenced. I am not sure what if any impact that has had on traffic in WP. Guessing 17-92 would be the road to be impacted.
    I travel on Aloma and make a left into the Mayflower access road picking up and dropping my mother in law at The Gallery at Winter Park and one almost puts their life in jeopardy doing so. With so many cars moving onto Aloma from the side streets there are few if any breaks in traffic allowing a turn; add to that line of sight issue with oncoming traffic wanting to make left turns it can be treacherous. Add to that the age group of many folk at the Mayflower, yikes it can be a challenge….hoping some of the initiatives talked about happen.

    • Ellie Warner says

      The addition of the ridiculously busy Starbucks has made it even more of a suicide mission in that area. Add to that elderly dudes (not you, Jack) still intent on making daredevil left turns into the Mayflower against oncoming traffic… it’s scary. I turned in there many times a week for 11 years, but a lot of times went up to the next light to make the left. Much safer. Saw a lot off accidents and near accidents.

      Thanks, as always, for the info, Pete!

  15. Duane says

    As stated above – Thank you for supporting our community and bringing us together with facts and realities of our environment. The leaders of Winter Park have done a great job protecting our city. We simply don’t have an ability to impact the cities surrounding us and the resultant impact of their decisions. I applaud the continued emphasis within Winter Park for multi-modal methods of transportation – walking, biking and transit. We are a walk friendly community and a silver level bike friendly community. These efforts should be expanded with safe bike routes, multi use paths and sidewalks. In Winter Park – we love to be outside – just look up and down Park Ave – lets embrace the same when thinking of transportation.

  16. Janet Atkins says

    It is getting increasingly harder to turn onto Palmer Avenue from McKean Circle due to increase in traffic. I was wondering if some stop signs or traffic lights might help along Palmer for other side streets as well.

  17. Rick Frazee says

    Thanks for your information about traffic and our population. It’s good to have those facts but they tell only half the story. Having lived here for over 50 years my complaint is that the city has actively worked to drive the small service businesses out of our city limits that make repairs, repair services and are otherwise not attractive causing me to have to drive further only adding to the traffic. The Fairbanks Ave corridor from I-4 to Park Ave at one time was the location of lawn mower sales & repair, auto sales & repair, boat sales & repair, used car sales, welding shops, gas stations, pluming supplies, parts warehouses and the like. They already have or soon will disappear. In a misguided attempt to make all our streets look like Park Ave we have beautified, changed the zoning and there for raised the value of that area to a point those services can no longer afford to exist there. That’s the real livable part that we’ve lost in Winter Park

  18. Leslie Doster says

    I would like to know if we have the ability to time traffic lights? It does not appear to be happening and could save a huge amount of frustration and pollution. If this is nit being done, can you address the oroblems with doing it?

    • Peter Weldon says

      FDOT is implementing a new traffic monitoring and signal timing process on 17/92 in which the city is participating. Also, the city commission put $150,000 in this year’s budget to fund signal management technology between Phelps and St. Andrews Blvd on Aloma. I note that these are investments in hope of generating improved traffic flow. The results are not in yet as to how effective these investments will be.

  19. Chad Price says

    Road Diet has a catchy name, but it is a failed concept that causes more problems than it solves. Google “Road Diet Failures” to see why they fail. Road diets cause problems for local people because there produce even longer delays along desired routes. Winter Park’s attempt to become a dead space for traffic flow for Central Florida will simply cause slower traffic. What is needed is Road Nutrition around and through Winter Park to encourage travel more efficiently along selected routes. In other words, we must move traffic more efficiently, not more slowly because cars are not going away any time soon.

  20. Randy Vance says

    Thank you for this analysis. In my opinion, the higher density residential arearsnare properly looks cared at this point and your statistics point out that we aren’t really stacking people too high we are jus spreading out. I think the Coty Commission could save a lot of justifiable criticism if they refused any and all upzoning adjacent to R-1 homes. It’s unfair for residents to have to be on their constant guard against this — The Aloma Lakemont—project being a case in point. Adjustments to any zoning map are likely to be required but upzoning R-1 to O-2 or PURD or both shouldn’t be foisted on Long Standing R-1 neighborhoods. Overall, the commission is doing a good job. If you recall driving Winter park in 2000 and look again today, a lot of really trashy looking properties have been,by comparison, attractively Re-developed.

  21. C. Skogsberg says

    I have lived in Winter Park for 34 years and have observed that the number of cars per household has increased during that time. More teenagers have their own vehicles, so it is not only “outsiders” that have contributed to vehicular traffic in Winter Park. I have also observed that most drivers do not obey speed limits; this is particularly true on SR 426 (Aloma-Brewer-Osceola-Fairbanks), and this “rush” does make walking or cycling along this route dangerous, particularly because the sidewalks are not kept clear of debris and vegetation that intrudes into the sidewalk path. I am not in favor of trying to prevent traffic flow-through along SR-426 as this would shunt significant traffic elsewhere (unfair). Like it or not, we are becoming more urban all around- we need to embrace and support alternate means of transportation and to plan efficient vehicular excursions so that the problem is not exacerbated.

  22. Victor A. Zollo, Jr. says

    Dear Peter, thank you my friend and neighbor. In over forty years of living here your thoughtful communication and information is much appreciated. Only wish i had keen solutions to difficult problems but we the Citizens of Winter Park are blessed by your leadership.
    Carry on my friend and you have our total support, resoectfully and fondly, Victor A. Zollo, Jr.

  23. Don Thompson says

    Thank you, Pete Weldon, for the facts on growth. The major change we have seen, over the last 20 years, is not so much an increase; but in age of population in the north end of Winter Park. In the year 2000, wheelchairs and canes were very common along our sidewalks. Today, young parents pushing baby carriages is more prevalent. Joggers and bikers are everywhere. Also many of the 1950’s houses are coming down and being replaced by $1 million beautiful homes. THAT INDICATES A VERY PROMISING FUTURE FOR WINTER PARK.

    • Peter Weldon says

      Don, your observations are valid. I look at the trends in single family home prices in the context of our codes. Are we too strict? Are we too loose? Or, are we just right? The city finalized an extensive R1 code review in 2010 that involved a spectrum of vested interests; from preservationists, to realtors, to developers. Moderate changes were made in what has proven to be a great example of constructive civic engagement. As the local economy has rebounded Winter Park is even more desirable as the place in central Florida to raise families and build equity value, with a wonderful quality of life. The reality is that we have built a value proposition that can’t be touched. The best place in central Florida to invest in a home is Winter Park and I am doing what I can to keep it that way.

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