Regionalism in South Florida began because one county government had a problem that it couldn’t solve alone. It needed the help and cooperation of its neighbors. Miami-Dade aviation officials selected a location for a major jetport in the ecologically sensitive Everglades area of western Miami-Dade County/eastern Collier County, which also affected the environment of adjacent Monroe County. In September 1969 the three counties, recognizing the benefit of working together on issues of regional impact transcending political boundaries, established the South Florida Jetport Council pursuant to Chapter 160, Florida Statutes, to allow coordination of regional-scale problems faced by two or more of the members.
It was awareness by counties of the importance of cooperating to resolve regional-scale problems that led local governments in South Florida to initiate a regional coordinating mechanism. This local initiative contrasts with agencies mandated or induced by State or Federal governments.
- In 1971, the Council was renamed the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC) and, in 1972, the Council determined that it needed staff to initiate a substantive planning program.
- In July of 1973, the Secretary of Administration divided the State into regions for comprehensive planning purposes. As prescribed by the Secretary of Administration, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties were grouped together in one region. In anticipation of this action, Collier and Lee counties ended their membership on June 30, 1973, and began action to establish a regional planning council for Southwest Florida. Hendry County joined the Southwest Florida RPC in 1974.
- Effective July 1, 1974, the Council reorganized under Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, with an expanded policy board of elected officials representing its municipalities and counties.
- Effective October 1975, the Secretary of Administration again divided the South Florida Region, putting Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties in a new sub-state district. Today the South Florida Region encompasses Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties and their 73 municipalities and is located in Comprehensive Planning District Eleven.