"Ten years ago, Fort Myers was a midsized Florida city with dreams of getting bigger, perhaps becoming the “Second City” of the eastern Gulf Coast, behind Tampa.
Things were going fine until Hurricane Ian arrived last month, destroying tens of thousands of homes and businesses across Florida, with statewide property losses now estimated as high as $70 billion, according to the disaster analytics firm CoreLogic.
In Lee County, which encompasses Fort Myers, officials say the Category 4 storm destroyed more than 5,000 homes and damaged 27,000, with projected losses of nearly $6 billion. An additional 18,000 homes and properties were affected by Ian, resulting in $812 million more in losses, according to an online dashboard maintained by the county.
Yet on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis found a silver lining in the grim reality. New development, he said, was making the Fort Myers area more resilient to storms. ...
Could the region have been spared some of the damage with more aggressive planning and zoning? “Yes,” planners and resilience experts say. Sound land use planning builds stronger communities — physically, socially and politically.
Yet Florida lawmakers effectively killed the state’s ability to check urban sprawl a decade ago with the passage of a reform measure called the 2011 Community Planning Act."