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May 18, 2007

Yet Another Dumb Ballot Initiative

As always, there is yet another bad idea floating around the state in the form of a petition for a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution.  This one would require local governments to hold election for the approval of comprehensive land use plans.  It is called "Hometown Democracy" and it is, to get to the point, dumb.

I support giving the little guy a voice.  On major issues like the marriage amendment or the sales tax proposal I like the idea of having an election to determine what policy stance the state will take.  But I also recognize that we have a Republican Democracy which places the responsibility of policy decisions in the hands of our elected government.  The reason for this?  Most of us don't want to go to the polls every time the Government wants to change something.

I can understand the desire to preserve as much of the natural state of Florida as we can.  I can understand some being upset about the ever increasing development of our state.  I can understand folks wanting to restrict development in some areas.  These positions should certainly be open for discussion and we have local government avenues to address these concerns.  However, an election over every major change is only going to complicate the process beyond repair.

Can you imagine the burden of having campaigns and elections over land use proposals?  It is a logistical nightmare that can only, and will cripple Florida's growth and business.

The idea is still in the petition stages, so if you are approached by an individual looking for your signature, feel free to use my description of the idea; dumb.

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Hometown Democracy = Hometown Bureaucracy

It's only a dumb ballot initiative if you don't mind seeing the entire state covered in asphalt.
Property rights are not just designed for the guys who want to build shopping malls or subdivisions.
It makes perfect sense to let the people who will be directly affected by growth to decide whether or not they want it by putting the issue to a vote.

So if I want a simple land use change to build a mother-in-law suite on my property, I will have to conduct a county-wide political campaign to convince a low turnout electorate to approve it, instead of gaining the consensus of my immediate neighbors and having the change approved by the county commission, who, by the way, are elected by the people. HTD just adds more red tape to government. It will also reduce affordable housing. I guess that doesn't matter to Lesley Blackner, the millionaire attorney who is funding HTD. She has a million home on the beach already. She didn't seem to mind development when her house was being built on the beach.

A "comprehensive land use plan" is code for unaffordable housing, extreme congestion, boondoggle public transit (light rail) projects, and worthless "affordable housing" initiatives that can't make housing affordable because they don't address the underlying cause (development restrictions in the land use plan). The initiatives do, however, place hundred of millions of taxpayer dollars in the hands of politicians to dole out as they please. Development restrictions are also a huge benefit to incumbents who benefit at the expense of newcomers.

The state is nowhere near being "covered in asphalt". That's a lie promulgated by anti-growth liberals. The developed portion of Florida constitutes less than 3% of its total area.

I'm originally from California. You know, the place where "smart growth", "regional land use authorities", "urban growth boundaries", "mandatory green belts", and "comprehensive land use plans" mean that the state's median house price exceeds $500k, is over $700k in San Jose, and near $800k in San Francisco. Fewer than 20% of Californians can afford a median-priced home. Also the place where the lie that "you can't build yourself out of congestion" rules, so its citizens suffer many hours of wasted time in gridlocked highways and streets. Don't forget San Jose's light rail system, which cost billions of dollars, has basically bankrupted the transit authority, and carries almost nobody. Tampa politicians (idiots!) are trying to get a regional transit authority approved so they can build one. Is that really what you want Florida to be? I moved here because I thought that Florida under Jeb was a lot more sane. Perhaps I was wrong.

There isn't enough industry in this state to support higher populations. We are running out of water.
In a twisted way I suppose you are right that development restrictions are the to blame for the lack of affordable housing.
Heck, if we just let all of those socially conscious developers cram as many houses they wanted onto this penninsula even the illegal aliens could afford to buy one. And the whole state would look like Holiday.

Hometown Hypocrites! Will Hometown Democracy be retroactive? Are we going to let the Creeks and Seminoles vote to decide if they want to allow development in their state?

To go with the casinos, you mean?

To go with the casinos, you mean?

There isn't enough industry in this state to support higher populations.
This looks like a non-sequitur to me. What does the amount of industry have to do with anything, and how does "smart growth" increase the amount of industry in FL (rather than making it run screaming like it does everywhere else)?
We are running out of water.
Can somebody explain to me why this is supposed to be true? Florida is one of the wettest states in the nation, after all.
In a twisted way I suppose you are right that development restrictions are the to blame for the lack of affordable housing.
Nothing twisted about it. It's pretty much the standard view. Also, see the Cato Institute's papers. Some local governments, like Portland's (OR), publicly admit that high housing prices and congestion were the intended goals of their "smart growth" plan.
And the whole state would look like Holiday.
Another vote for the proposition that "smart growth" is in reality an aesthetic judgment: I don't like it so it should be banned.

You don't see a correlation between jobs and the economy and need for housing, affordable or not?

"Can somebody explain to me why this is supposed to be true? Florida is one of the wettest states in the nation, after all."

Florida drought scares officials

Residents face water shortages as state's record dry spell goes on

By Deborah Sharp, USA TODAY

MIAMI — While wildfires capture the cameras' attention, most Floridians are unaware that the blazes are only the most dramatic symbol of a drought developing into the state's worst in a century.

And that, water managers say, is Florida's great difficulty.
"The biggest problem we have is the lack of perception that there is a problem," says Bruce Adams, conservation officer for the South Florida Water Management District. The district oversees water use for about 6 million residents in 16 of Florida's 67 counties, including Miami-Dade.
Unrestricted development isn't the answer either. Developers will build what will bring them the maximun return on their investment and that is never"workforce housing."
Property rights cuts both ways. If i make an expectation backed investment in property that is considered rural on my county's future land use map, I have a right to expect my neighborhood to stay low density. That's why I spent my money on a house THERE as opposed to a house in an area slated for more growth.
And, you have obviously never been to Holiday.

You don't see a correlation between jobs and the economy and need for housing, affordable or not?
That isn't what you said. You said "There isn't enough industry in this state to support higher populations", which is completely non-sensical.
Unrestricted development isn't the answer either. Developers will build what will bring them the maximun return on their investment and that is never"workforce housing."
Look around you, plenty of developers have constructed "workforce housing". They didn't get your memo that they will never build it. If they don't in the future, blame smart growth. No developer is going to build an affordable $150k house when restrictive land use policies make land so scarce it's going to cost $100k a lot to buy and develop (before you build a single house). Not so smart in my book.

They'll start building condos instead, which is often the point. Many smart growthers think New York is the epitome how everybody should live, and they know most people don't want that, so intentionally making land too expensive for single-family homes is part of the game plan. All couched in "livable neighborhoods" rhetoric, but they never explain how living like a sardine improves one's life.


If i make an expectation backed investment in property that is considered rural on my county's future land use map, I have a right to expect my neighborhood to stay low density.

In other words, the past should control the future. If you want that, buy enough land you so you won't have any neighbors rather than tell your neighbors they can't subdivide. Of course that would mean putting up your own money rather than stealing it (in the form of reduced value) from your neighbors, so I understand why you won't.

And, you have obviously never been to Holiday.

No, I haven't. So what? Again, you prove my point.

Take a look at some of the misleading comments on this blog. That is the type of uninformed debate that will take place at the local level EVERY TIME a citizen wants to make a simple land use change to his or her property if this dumb initiative makes it to the ballot.

NO one can get highest and best use for their land just because they want it.

You have totally ignored the fact that we do have growth plans that are supposed to be the guidelines for density.
If governments stopped issuing land use changes tomorrow, there is still enough land designated for higher density development to keep builders going for a long, long time.
Let's start following our comprehensive plans and build where the density has already been approved.
If I wanted to put an amphitheater on my property I couldn't do it because it would be incompatible with surroundsing uses and the infrastructure wouldn't support it.
Even the Burt Harris Act does not guarantee landowners the the right to do whatever they want with their property.
Why should my neighbor have the right to introduce an unwanted incompatible use if the rest of the neighborhood does not support it?
Why should one landowner's property rights be more important than the rest of the people in the comunity?

RE: Why should my neighbor have the right to introduce an unwanted incompatible use if the rest of the neighborhood does not support it?

They shouldn't be allowed to do that, and the CURRENT system protects home owners from that. Under HTD, you would have to campaign against your neighbor on a county-wide basis. How stupid is that?

You must be living in an alternate reality.

Ever heard of Hernando County and Hickory Hill?
If our elected representatives listened to nieghboring property owners when they said they didn't want a subdivision with increased density to be approved via a land use change, there wouldn't be a need for the Hometown Democracy initiative.
The good old boy network is still alive and well in this state and if you don't believe that then you are not paying attention.

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