Monday, April 26, 2010

3 Days to D Day: Who wants to move the Urban Development Boundary and will you come to the County Commission on Wednesday to watch? by gimleteye

Who wants to move the Urban Development Boundary? Supermarket chains, Lowe's Home Improvement: more homeowners, more stores. It is a model perfectly suited for land speculation fueled by cheap debt and the power of derivatives. Its advocates included the former president of the Latin Builders Association, Willy Bermello, who wrote in The Miami Herald in 2005 dismissing critics of the housing boom, "This bubble is not made of latex. It is made of stainless steel." Bermello was also giving voice to his colleagues; land speculators who control County Hall through zoning lobbyists and campaign contributions.

Come down on Wednesday. Join the public to express what you feel about the costs of growth that have resulted in whopping billion dollar infrastructure deficits, not to mention current deficits. It should be an interesting meeting. It's much better than television, the same way that going to the ballpark gives you a view of the game that encompasses so much more than who is batting or fielding, throwing or catching. You have to see the side-glances, the way that staff look at each other or bury their faces in the crook of their arms when lies and demagogues take flight at the microphones. Watch Katy Sorenson in her final CDMP zoning hearing as a county commissioner. Will she say, "I told you so", about overdevelopment to her colleagues on the dais? Will they ignore her? Will Natacha Seijas and Joe Martinez turn away as she speaks, or Dorrin Rolle pick up his Get Smart phone? Will Pepe walk down from the dais to talk to his lobbyist friends in the audience? Will Dennis Moss, the chairman of the commission, take the opportunity to explain to his colleagues how he has watched history unfold in the last decade at the Urban Development Boundary, and that none of the arguments in favor of destroying farmland and bending to the will of speculators bear the stamp of legitimate need? Come down and watch the zoning attorneys say to their surrogates on the county commission: "you have to take control, today, because Florida Hometown Democracy is coming in November."

A representative sample of land speculators who strenuously oppose Florida Hometown Democracy could be drawn from this group: the directors of US Century Bank. Some are better known than others, but together they are dedicated to the growth model called suburban sprawl that has been gathering rust since the housing bust.

Ordinary homeowners who can't make their mortgage payments are forced into foreclosure, but it is not clear that the same is true-- or always true or only sometimes so-- for large landowners holding property purchased as speculative investments when they own the bank. Based on the carnage from so much overdevelopment fueled by cheap debt and greed, it is safe to say that unless the advocates for sprawl were also shorting the market at the same time (like Goldman Sachs) that here and elsewhere the Growth Machine chewed up the Florida landscape billionaires are now only centimillionaires, centimillionaires are worth only tens, and some who own banks are only worth as much as the federal government permits them to guess-timate.

What is clear is that land owned outside the Urban Development Boundary is a ticking time bomb if the bank that owns the bank comes calling; if collateral or capital infusions to stave off takeovers requires liquidation at fire sale prices; if new financial institutions are not so warm and cuddly to the locals.

Take a drive around the forsaken perimeter of the Urban Development Boundary today: all you see are "for sale" signs. The boundary in Miami-Dade is where suburban sprawl dropped dead, or, only exists because federal tax policy-- shaped by the homebuilders in Congress--is still spitting out incentives for first time buyers.

If you come down to the County Commission on Wednesday, this is the subtext of the urgency to move the Urban Development Boundary. For instance, take the application by Ferro. To understand why the Ferro application is important, you have to study who owns the land AROUND the Ferro application. Neighbor, CMH Investment, Inc. is Jose Machado, Jorge Correa, Emiliano Herran and Agustin Herran. Out of the 9 Board Members of U.S. Century Bank, 4 of them, Agustin Herran, Armando Guerra, Sergio Pino and Ramon Rasco, have property ownership surrounding this property. And, not very far from here also outside the UDB line, a fifth U.S. Century board member, Rodney Barreto, has property. You also have D.R. Horton waiting a couple of properties away, the mega production home builder that calls itself: "America's Builder".

Move it for Ferro today, move it for the others next time around. It is difficult to estimate how much money is tied up in the adjacent land, now farmland stretching to Krome Avenue. Immediately adjacent to Ferro, we could count up $150 million that moved into developer hands since 2003. Someone owns that land and someone wants it freed up by a zoning change for more suburban sprawl.

What is interesting, of course, is that there is no need for zoning changes at this time. Not for commercial space. Not for residential. Every argument that the Growth Machine and the engineering cartel used in the past, is now dead in the water. Housing costs, too high? Not anymore. Not even Habitat for Humanity is building new structures. County statistics no longer valid? Need to accommodate the "tidal wave" of new residents? That is so yesterday.


Geniusofdespair said...

This is an important story, because the Urban Development Boundary is like a house of development leads to another. Look at Ferro property as a test balloon.

Barry J White said...

There are 65,000 acres left in agriculture in Miami-Dade County; you need 55,000 to have a viable Ag
economy. If the Ferro project is approved and if we
continue to permit land to be taken out of Ag, Ag will be dead within five years in this County. The master plan says that there should be no net loss of land in Ag but provides no mechanism for enforcing that position; I guess they figured the County Commission would enforce it. Instead, if the County Commission continues to approve taking land out of Ag, we will put a tombstone
dedicated to Ag in South Dade and list those who consistently voted to kill it. When the Commissioners vote on Wednesday on Ferro, lets hope they fully understand the consequences of that vote. There should be a freeze on all land taken out of Ag including the five acre parcels where we are seeing the obnoxious and tasteless McMansions where viable Ag could be occurring.
Sad. The people involved in this tragedy have no feel for this rare and precious land and area we live
on. They only appreciate money and power. Philistines.

Anonymous said...

Leading State Organizations Call for
Reauthorization of the Florida Department of Community Affairs

April 26, 2010 (Tallahassee) -- Florida’s leading planning and conservation groups are calling on all concerned citizens to send an emphatic message to the Florida Legislature that the Florida Department of Community Affairs be reauthorized this session. They are calling Monday, April 26 SAVE DCA DAY.

The above organizations are sponsoring a rally and press conference in Tallahassee on Monday, April 26. It will begin at 12:15 at the back steps of the Old Capitol in the Capitol courtyard. The event is intended to draw statewide attention to the need to “Re-enact Intact” the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

1000 Friends of Florida President Charles Pattison explains that as the last week of the session commences, the fate of DCA remains uncertain. “If DCA is not reauthorized this session, DCA and Florida’s growth management process will be especially vulnerable to elimination, dismantlement, funding cutbacks and/or excessive political pressure over the coming year.”

With passage of SB 282 reauthorizing DCA, the Senate has shown its commitment to growth management in Florida, explains Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida. “We ask House leadership to show the same commitment and pass comparable ‘clean’ legislation so that DCA can be reauthorized this session.”

“DCA and Florida’s growth management process provide important tools to protect Florida’s environmental lands and wildlife habitats from inappropriate development,” says Laurie Macdonald, Florida Program Director of Defenders of Wildlife. “Citizens of Florida need to call their legislators and express their support for DCA.”

“While land acquisition is important to protect sensitive natural areas, it is also important to ensure that growth and development are directed to appropriate locations,” explains Preston Robertson, Vice President/General Counsel of the Florida Wildlife Federation. “DCA provides a vital check and balance in Florida’s process.”

Thom Rumberger, Chairman of the Everglades Trust, and Kirk Fordham, Everglades Foundation, concur. “Appropriate growth management with oversight by DCA is crucial if we are to protect and restore the Everglades and other fragile lands in this state.”

The National Parks Conservation Association Director Debbie Harrison explains that it is important to prevent inappropriate development and other incompatible uses on the fringes of the Everglades. “To restore health to the Everglades ecosystem, we also must pay attention to what is happing on adjacent lands.”

“As an attorney who represents citizens on cases related to plan amendments, I know firsthand that this agency plays a vital role in promoting sustainable growth and development in Florida,” says Richard Grosso, Executive Director of the Everglades Law Center.

“Let’s send a clear message that growth management is important for all Floridians” said Sierra Club lobbyist David Cullen. “We support the continuation of the Department of Community Affairs as a stand alone executive agency that maintains its full authority to reject comprehensive plan amendments that are not in compliance with the Growth Management Act.”

"Smart planning equals smart growth,” says Greg Chelius, State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “DCA is the catalyst that helps create the sustainable communities which drive our economy and ensure healthy living for all Floridians."

The groups are calling on their collective memberships to contact key legislators and urge reauthorization of DCA this session. “We hope we can send a powerful signal that Floridians support protecting the environment and managing growth,” explains 1000 Friends’ Pattison.

Anonymous said...

Let's get to the "cotton-picking" mess of the whole thing----Charter
Change and "Term Limits" on county commissioners and an ignorant public to be educated in all levels.


Anonymous said...

Christ, how ridiculous. Build up, not out. There is plenty of space to build all around Miami Dade that don't need to have the boundary moved.

Anonymous said...

But then the speculators are left holding the bag for millions in debt and expectations that they could provide "needed retail and related commercial space"!!! Oh, housing too I forgot.

Kiko said...

The implications of a UDB move are monumental and tragic. There's plenty of empty retail and commercial space walking distance from that plot of land. West Kendall needs this likes it needs a Category 5 hurricane.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how these projects are even getting financed. What banker would want to back this? It's nuts. Commercial is already failing.

Anonymous said...

They own the bank. FDIC, are you paying attention?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Build up not out" - Geez, that's exactly what we need - Make South Florida like Beijing or Hong Kong! I think not!

Everytime I go to downtown Miami lately, I feel a bit claustrophobic with all the glass and concrete monoliths crowding out beautiful Biscayne Bay. I literally do - It's ridiculous!

There has to be a better way!

Anonymous said...

GE, you are like a preacher in a Faulkner novel, bellowing about "growth machine, derivateives, and hold the line" just because the words sound alarming, without any point, no actual substantive planning policy recommendations, just speculation that a procedural hurdle, Amendment 4, will somehow make things "right." Why don't you actually try to improve people's lives? What is your vision and what policies would help achieve it? Or is your vision and policy a big empty "no?"

Anonymous said...

FDIC closed 7 banks last week. Eventually, they are going to run out of money. Yeah, maybe they should be paying attention to this one.

the jolly antichrist said...

Didn't Little Joe have a 2007 Bankruptcy on top of his 1997 one?

Anonymous said...

Lttle Joe should easily vote against this one. He always says the UDB line is too crooked and needs to be straightened. So Joe, are you going to make it more crooked?
Correction to Barry White. The land needed for viable agriculture must be contiguous; fracturing is a death knell. Some of the land he cited is on the east side. The remaining viable land to the west is under 55,000 acres. It survives because the type of agriculture we do is more intensive. Nevertheless, Dade is very close to failing.
Get your butts to the meeting! And support Hometown Democracy so we do not have to do this dance twice a year.