Thursday, October 21, 2010

Supporters of Amendment 4: Nathaniel Reed ... by gimleteye

"My vote for Amendment 4 represents my discontent if not disgust with the return to an era of uncaring, anything goes development without caring for local input or the impact on our remaining undeveloped land." Nathaniel P. Reed

The dissonance has escaped no one's attention close to the campaign to pass Amendment 4: that the strongest individual voices from Florida's opinion pages like Howard Troxler, Ken Ward, and Carl Hiaasen support Amendment 4 in roughly the same ratio to opposition by newspaper editorial boards. The reason accounts for the scarce coverage of the underlying issues or the founders of Florida Hometown Democracy themselves. Newspapers once derived significant revenue from advertisements tied to the expansion of suburban sprawl; the chief target of the measure.

Amendment 4 opponents harp that environmental groups have not officially come out in favor of Amendment 4. That is not true: Sierra Club and many local groups that have waged the constant low-level battle against reckless zoning changes tied to master plans know better. I have been involved in many of these battles over land use from the civic side. I know from dismal experience that the tsunami of money from builders and developers is simply too overpowering for local elected officials; at least the unreformable majority. The current system is so badly broken that it must change. Now, so does Nathaniel Reed, one of Florida's environmental icons who has spent a lifetime following growth management issues closely. Yesterday, Nathaniel Reed-- the founder of 1000 Friends of Florida-- stated his support for Amendment 4.

Florida voters, voting 'yes' for Amendment 4, will not have another chance in their lifetimes to express their view at the ballot box of the rampant overdevelopment that wrecked so much of our natural heritage and substantially pushed the state economy into the worst crisis since the Depression. Click, read more, for Reed's statement. I have pondered the pros and cons of Amendment #4 for months. I have listened to expert land use planners and attorneys who warn that the amendment is not perfect and might have “unanticipated consequences”. I have listened to the proponents who are dissatisfied with the obvious consequences of the existing system. They have been repeatedly ignored by their elected officials who promised careful consideration of development plans and then allowed projects that are unsound and will cost the existing taxpayers a fortune.

As I have traveled the state I have seen the cost of bad development decisions by local government who have made Florida the foreclosure capital of the nation. I am struck by the continued efforts by the development community to convince county and city officials that they can restore Florida’s economy by doing more of what made it crash.

The suggestion that Amendment 4 will cost the taxpayer’s money is laughable when you look at the untold millions the current system has cost us. Overbuilding has left Florida’s economy in shambles. It is the major reason that property taxes have skyrocketed. It is the single biggest factor in uncounted environmental damage to Florida’s natural systems. Every study ever done shows that bad growth management costs citizens in money and quality of life.

I have been involved in the state’s once meaningful comprehensive planning program for 30 years, beginning with then Governor Bob Graham’s efforts to produce a new vision on how Florida could grow and prosper with due regard to livability and protection of unique areas that make our state uniquely beautiful.

During the intervening years the mad, insatiable desire of the development community has overwhelmed local concerns and produced a Florida that is uglier than it ever should have become. We have lost the promise of thoughtful development that create livable communities and substituted “pay for play” as the standard for development approval.

There are faults with Amendment #4, but with the evisceration of the Department of Community Affairs that once was the hallmark of sound decision making, I am at the stage where I believe that we need to take a chance. We need to send a message to our elected officials that communities have a right to control their destiny.

My vote for Amendment 4 represents my discontent if not disgust with the return to an era of uncaring, anything goes development without caring for local input or the impact on our remaining undeveloped land.

Nathaniel Reed

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nathaniel. As a member of 1000 FOF I have been dismayed at, first their opposition and then, their neutral position. I don't know if the organization has finally taken a position in support or if Mr. Reed is the only one with the backbone to do the right thing. If Scott is the governor we will need all the help we can get in Amendment 4. Vote YES on 4.