Amendment 4 might have gone done in flames but we haven't heard the last word from the Florida Hometown Democracy Campaign:
The handwringing begins. Florida’s newspapers are crying in their beer that the Department of Community Affairs is likely to be dismantled next year by the incoming Rick Scott gang. After vilifying Amendment 4 and parroting the over-builders’ (the source of a very large chunk of their advertising revenue) lies, the newspapers now cry there will be no “watchdog” over bad growth. Well, according to the Orlando Sentinel, DCA approves 90% of the plan changes that show up on its desk. What kind of “growth watchdog” is that when we all know that Florida already has enough growth on the books for over 100 million people?
The truth and fact remains that the real power resides at the local level, where a developer-applicant typically needs only 3 out of 5 votes or 4 out of 7 to change the growth map. The newspapers don’t seem to understand that DCA doesn’t have the power now to simply stop a bad plan change in its tracks. If a plan change violates some aspect of the Growth Management Act, DCA must go to court, just like the rest of us. Drive around Florida and it’s clear that growth hasn’t been well managed over the last 25 years.
Amendment 4 recognized that the real power lies at the local level with city & county commissions, and that too often they can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Even though demand went bust, the politicians keep granting more plan changes. So much for “planning”!
The over-builders spent $20 million to defeat the Amendment 4 reform. Money may not be everything, but in our case money meant everything.
Happy New Year!