Thursday, January 21, 2010

Open Call: Amendment 4--Hometown Democracy or logistical nightmare?

At the Urban Environment League dinner last night, Lesley Blackner and Clifford Schulman faced off in a debate about Amendment 4, which will be on the November ballot and would require a referendum on all amendments to comprehensive land use plans. Blackner maintains that Florida politicians are too corrupt to be trusted with decisions about zoning and planning, since they are in developers' pockets. Schulman called this notion "paranoid," and argued that Amendment 4 would stunt Florida's economy (he cited St. Pete Beach's experience with Hometown Democracy and didn't seem to think the recession could account for their stagnation.)

A lot of the guests seemed to feel that something needed to be done about the rampant over-development in South Florida--but not necessarily this. One person I spoke to said the County Commission should actually heed recommendations by county staff (huh!) whom they pay to analyze planning and zoning recommendations. Others felt that passing Amendment 4 would at least send a message to the powers that be that voters are fed up. A looming concern, though, is the sheer number of zoning changes the electorate would have to consider (this includes city and county amendments). Will Floridians bother to inform themselves about half a dozen planning amendments each year? And won't developers be able to buy votes anyway?

Your thoughts?

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