Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day: Remember Gov. Crist has not yet signed SB 360, the Bad Developer Bill: call him tomorrow! by gimleteye

Please email Governor Crist at and call at 850-488-4441 to veto SB 360. The Bad Developers Bill is a prize give-away to developers, rewarding the Growth Machine that created our economic crisis. The House Majority Office issued a statement about SB 360 claiming it: “Strikes a balance between state and local control of growth management by retaining state regulatory oversight of planning and development, while recognizing the role and responsibility of local elected officials to make land use decisions in the best interests of their local community.” You can "recognize" the role and responsibility of local elected officials all you want, but local elected officials only recognize one responsibility: to the Growth Machine. Here’s a list of Senate Bill 360’s sponsors and their listed occupations:

Senator Bennett: Developer
Senator Pruitt: Realtor (and former well driller)
Senator King: Real Estate
Senator Lynn: Business consultant
Senator Richter: Banker
Senate President Atwater is a Banker.. Senate Majority Leader De La Portilla is a political consultant.

On the House side, Speaker Cretul is a realtor.
House Whip Carlos Lopez-Cantera is a realtor.
House Majority Leader Adam Hasner is a “business consultant/attorney.”

Ron Weaver, a Tampa land-use lawyer, told The Miami Herald, that "if the bill becomes law hundreds of construction projects — including education and government buildings, medical clinics and assisted-living facilities — will come off the shelves because builders will find it economical to construct them."

It's bull. There is no demand for more unsustainable growth. The failed growth model is not coming back, but if the Growth Machine gets its way, it will hijack US and state tax dollars to plow more infrastructure in farmland and wetlands, spreading more lies to cover its egregious past mistakes.

The Governor has Senate Bill 360 on his desk to sign, and has announced that he would sign it. I hope he has read the editorial by Ron Littlepage of the Jacksonville Times Union, who now supports Florida Hometown Democracy.

Florida Times-Union, May 21, 2009

Floridians need more say in development decisions
By Ron Littlepage

I haven’t been a fan of Florida Hometown Democracy, but that's changing. Here's why:

Let's start with what the Legislature just did to basically gut growth management laws that at least attempt to have infrastructure keep up with development.

Legislators approved a bill that, in many areas, will do away with concurrency requirements that force developers to help pay for infrastructure impacted by their development.

They also knee-capped Development of Regional Impact reviews that examine how large developments affect surrounding areas.

Legislators handed yet another gift to developers when they made it easier to destroy wetlands and to go after water resources needed for development.

Under that legislation, the state's five water management district boards would no longer have to sign off on consumptive use permits for water and wetlands destruction permits.

That authority would rest solely with the executive director of each district and could be done out of the sunshine and without public input.

In other words, legislators have pretty much given free rein to developers to continue building; quality of life and the state's natural resources be damned, even though there are currently 300,000 homes in Florida sitting empty.

Hopefully, Gov. Charlie Crist will veto both of these bad pieces of legislation.

But it's not just the betrayal by the Legislature that's making Florida Hometown Democracy more attractive.

Efforts by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority to extend a runway at Craig field despite overwhelming opposition is growing tiresome.

The aborted attempt by the Jacksonville Port Authority to cram a cruise ship terminal down the throats of Mayport residents is another example why land use changes to our comprehensive plan should be more difficult.

That's what Florida Hometown Democracy would do.

The proposed constitutional amendment likely will be on the ballot in November 2010. If voters approve it, land use changes would have to be approved by that jurisdiction's voters.

That scares the heck out of developers who are used to getting their way with elected officials who depend on their campaign contributions.

Approval of the amendment would put the decision back in the hands of the citizens whose lives will be affected..

Normally, I favor our representative form of government, but direct democracy on land use changes may be the only way to promote smart growth in Florida.

One other thing is pushing me toward favoring Florida Hometown Democracy - the shameful tactics of the opponents, funded by the deep pockets of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and home builders.

They are behind a group with the deceitful name of Floridians for Smarter Growth.

The constitutional amendment they are promoting, when you read between the lines, would make it all but impossible for citizens to vote on land use changes.

Supporters of Florida Hometown Democracy call that amendment a Trojan horse. I would call it something else, but this is a family newspaper., (904) 359-4284

Builders await Crist's pen

By Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Published Sunday, May 24, 2009

TALLAHASSEE — A growth-management bill awaiting Gov. Charlie Crist's signature is being hailed by developers as the coveted key to unlocking hundreds of delayed construction projects across the state.

The same bill is seen by environmentalists and local governments as a shortsighted solution that will exacerbate Florida's housing glut, increase traffic delays and allow uncontrolled development in rural areas.

It is up to Crist to sort it out. The governor said last week that he probably will sign the measure, known as SB 360, but his top guru for growth management, Department of Community Affairs Secretary Tom Pelham, sounds less certain.

At an online seminar to brief the public on growth-management issues last week, Pelham repeatedly said that "if'' the bill should become law, the department would work closely with local government so that the act "will result in responsible planning."

Short of that, Pelham told his listeners: "I have absolutely no inside information about the governor's pending decision, and if I did I couldn't share it with you anyway."

The measure passed the Florida House 78-37 and the Senate 30-7. The governor has until June 2 to sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

The measure makes substantial rewrites to the state's 25-year-old growth laws by:

• Allowing developers in Florida's most urban counties to add more residential development without expanding roads. Instead, developers would pay a "mobility fee'' — yet to be determined — to finance public transit and road improvements.

• Giving cities and counties the option of designating urban areas that would also be exempt from the requirement to construct the roads needed to avoid traffic congestion.

• Exempting large development projects from review by regional planning boards.

Promoters of the legislation say the changes are needed so developers can kick-start their projects when the economy improves. Among the incentives, the changes make it less expensive to build in urban areas — channeling growth into denser areas instead of pushing more growth to the suburbs and encouraging sprawl.

"The hope is that by removing unworkable or duplicative regulations, when the economy begins to rebound, the state of Florida will not be standing in its own way," said Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, who is a developer and sponsored the bill. In an op-ed piece that ran in newspapers across the state, Bennett said the legislation "is an attempt to promote both economic development and good planning."

Ron Weaver, a Tampa land-use lawyer, said that if the bill becomes law hundreds of construction projects — including education and government buildings, medical clinics and assisted-living facilities — will come off the shelves because builders will find it economical to construct them.

"It's not as if it's going to be a major outbreak of development. It's not," Weaver said. "But there is some development out there waiting for some reasonable rules."

The Audubon Society of Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Association have urged Crist to veto the bill. They argue that its definition of urban area — 1,000 people per square mile — is so low that instead of discouraging sprawl the bill will encourage it.

The Florida Association of Counties is also asking for the governor's veto, arguing that the elimination of transportation "concurrency'' will lead to more backlogged road construction and clogged roads. Counties would have to find ways to deal with traffic congestion caused by growth after the growth occurs, rather than require the developer to have a road-financing plan in place before construction, the group says.

Pelham acknowledges that change is needed. As one of the architects of the state's first laws to regulate growth, he continues to believe growth management and planning are important. But he said the economy has forced a new reality.

"We're suddenly experiencing a sharp economic downturn with very little population growth and you hear people saying, 'Well, now we need some growth to manage,' " he said. The goal of the legislation is to "salvage what is good but also adapting to the times that we're in."

But he acknowledged that if the bill becomes law it "can exacerbate the glut of homes on the market." His department has received requests from local governments that want to amend their growth plans to allow for "large amounts of residential development'' — from 20,000 to 100,000 new units in most areas.

"I think clearly if we went down that path it could contribute to oversupply, overbuilding — the kind of problem we're already in," he said. But, he added, many of those proposals "are clearly speculative'' and it's up to government to make sure that any development that is approved is responsible.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at


Anonymous said...

If Governor Crist signs that horrible bill, he's toast in his aspiration to become a senator. He would have betrayed Floridians and we won't forget it when we vote in the election.

Gimleteye said...

I agree that the implosion of the housing markets, related to over-the-top development, could be the decisive issue in the 2010 elections, for all the statewide races, including governor and US Senate. It engages from different directions the key constituencies: environmentalists and seniors. The environmental angle is clear enough. Seniors come to the issue from neighborhoods sagging under the weight of foreclosures and the destruction of home values.

Anonymous said...

Agree. Crist can kiss Democrats goodbye on this one...and thinking Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Horrible bill. How did it get so far? Are the State elected officials stupid or corrupt or both?

Mensa said...


Anonymous said...

From some insider's, the word is that Crist is going to let this pass without his signature or veto. He needs the developer and special interest money for his campaign, though he'd probably raise a lot more grass roots by a defining veto.......And so it goes!

Anonymous said...

Riley says,

What recourse do "we the people" have if the governor doesn't veto this bill or if it passes without a veto? What cost, $'s would we the people need to appeal this bill?
The voters will remember Crist
and his "people's man" slogan when he vies for the Senate. Big Cam-
paign contributions from developers and lobbists won't pave his way to the hill. Voters will!!

Scott said...

I simply do not understand the need for this bill. I can't believe that Crist would sign this bill right before the election because he has usually been on the right side of these issues. But its politics, so who knows...

Scott said...

Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.