Tuesday, January 08, 2008

An economic hurricane: the recession and Florida Hometown Democracy, by gimleteye

It's been interesting to read the mainstream press on the "question" of the recession. The media has its own reasons for being reticent about getting in front of the R word.

Today it is a front page story in the New York Times. If you are just a plain consumer of news in Miami, you'd hardly have known that there was an unsustainable bubble in housing markets in the first place, or, what its consequences would be.

I recall, in 2005, a county commission meeting entertaining a flood of proposals to move the Urban Development Boundary where brave county planners stood at the speaker's podium looking up to the indifferent faces of county commissioners and offered statistics showing construction applications and permits in the pipeline wildly out-of-line with historical averages.

The meeting wasn't reported in the press. Nor did the press report how lobbyists for the development industry were trotting around Miami Dade County with a powerpoint presentation to justify those applications, showing population and demand going up, up, and up: mindless, eternal sunshine.

This recession is going to be a very nasty one, because the excesses had been allowed to build to such heights. The chain of causality is straight from Wall Street financiers and magicians to local elected officials who roll over every time Greenberg Traurig's land use lobbyists come calling.

It seems even President Bush knows that the dominant event of his final year after a disastrous two terms in office will be a tidal wave of bad news on the economy.

I've taken the view that Miami is the center of the economic hurricane, notwithstanding the many places around the nation that are experiencing sharp declines in housing sales and tax revenues.

The reason is that South Florida developers used their influence in local, state and national politics to ratchet the pressure on policies of unsustainable growth, symbolized by the influence of the nation's biggest Republican fundraisers during the late 1990's and early 2000's, like Al Hoffman, then CEO of WCI Communities. (Take a look through our archives, if you are so inclined...)

I'm hoping that the state-wide referendum called Florida Hometown Democracy gains enough signatures to qualify for the 2008 ballot. Voters look around at the see-thru condo buildings and half-empty subdivisions and know there has to be a better way to shape our communities.

The Growth Machine has pulled out all the stops to obstruct and prevent the collection of signatures required by Florida law (amended two years ago, in order to thwart FHD) that would put growth management in the hands of voters.

Is there a chance that Florida Hometown Democracy could get swept up in the currents steering Florida results of a presidential election?

My prediction is, yes.


Anonymous said...

Ah, payback.

Anonymous said...

What is a see through condo?

Anonymous said...

An anti Hometowen Democracy petition gatherer was spotted in front of Winn Dixie near Homestead. She was telling people to sign her petition because the FL Hometown Democracy petition had been withdrawn. When confronted with this lie she got "her boss" on the phone who said, oh well, we can/will say anything to get signatures. When asked exactly what the petition meant, she did not know. Get informed public, ask questions and you will find some signature collectors do not know much about what they are doing. If the collector can not explain it to you, it's probably not something you support!
Winn Dixie seems to be one of their favorite spots!

Anonymous said...

A see-through condo is a building so empty that you can see straight through from one window, through the unit, out the other side.

out of sight said...

A see-through condo is a building so empty that you can see straight through from one window, through the unit, out the other side.

That is kinda, sorta like some people we see around.

Anonymous said...