This column was in El Nuevo Herald on June 10th. I was lucky to finally get it translated. I hope Daniel Shoer Roth's voice is never silenced at that paper because he gets it and he can teach others to get it too:
No vemos lo que no queremos ver - By Daniel Shoer Roth
The residents of Florida are sometimes myopic when looking at the potential dangers posed by urban development, unless it comes knocking at our doors.
Until a 20-story building is constructed across from our home, for example, we do not think about changes of zoning nor do we get organized to stop them. While there is sufficient clean water to drink, we do not become aware of the profound effects caused by urban sprawl on the Everglades.
In our Sunday issue, a cartoon by Jardim was published depicting four buildings in planters. Florida Governor, Charlie Crist, happily waters them hoping they will grow. There is a dead plant apart on the window sill.
The artist could not better visualize the spirit of the new urban development law privately signed by Crist last week. (hit read more) That law cements a fast way to develop more construction projects, with less supervision from the state. You and me should be concerned because we are going to waste more time stuck in traffic, plus the toxic consequences for the environment that is affected even more every time that a marsh is paved over.
Crist, who proclaims himself as the people’s governor, has never won my full confidence, precisely because of his accentuated populism. I cannot forget the time when he took a rock and let it fall to indicate a supposed drop in taxes. That rock ended hitting me on the head when I opened the envelope that the property appraiser left in my mail box. Similarly I did not like the luxurious trips to Europe that he took at taxpayers’ expense. This new urban legislation fits me like a ring in my finger in support of my anti-establishment sensibility.
Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Crist was on the right track with the environment. He gave the green light to the acquisition of land from the United States Sugar Corporation, the largest sugar producer in the nation, which for years had traditionally contaminated the Everglades, our lungs in this area. He appointed environmentalists to district boards that administer water supply. He approved more funds for eco-conservation.
But soon, he made a radical turn in favor of the building industry. Now that his sight is towards Washington in 2010 and needs contributions for the contested electoral campaign, probably against Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek.
In an opening and shutting of eyes, Crist turned back two decades of advances in the regulations of urban sprawl; municipalities will be unable to demand developers to pay for the expansion of roads to alleviate vehicle congestion. The most polemic projects can no longer be studied to determine the impact on our neighborhoods. Certain rural areas will be easily rezoned to urban areas.
Who could have said that a few days before signing this law, Crist explored the National Everglades Park, in the company of Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar and Florida’s Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson.
It is estimated that in Florida there are at least 374,000 houses in different stages of foreclosure proceedings. However, permits have been issued to build 640,000 houses and 489 million sq. ft.of non-residential buildings. It is absurd to promote so much construction, under the ruse that it stimulates the economy. In fact, the state’s economy is in shambles because of urban sprawl and the immeasurable construction within the cities.
Even though we might think that the Crist law does not affect us, we will eventually feel its impact once our taxes increase in order to build more roads, or when the water bill will drowns us. This will be Crist’s legacy. Also see: Shoer Roth on Transit in today's Herald.