Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Amendment 4

As I write this editorial the November 2nd election is just over 4 weeks away. Amendment 4 aka "Hometown Democracy" is really not about development. If the amendment passes development will still take place and construction of homes and businesses will continue seemingly undeterred. What will grind to a halt are Comprehensive Land Use changes. Some very vocal people claim the problem in Florida is there are too many changes in land use and inappropriate uses of land being approved. It would be wonderful if everyone knew exactly how much land we would need for every conceivable use but the fact is we just cannot see that far into the future.

Amendment 4 is really about taking land use decision making from our elected officials and sharing it with the voters, let's be honest here, campaign managers and public relation firms. Yes I know there are a few people that feel the public is disenfranchised from deciding what is developed near their homes. An election is not a very good way of controlling or deciding what happens in your neighborhood. If you are unhappy with a land use decision by your elected official(s) you can vote them out of office. If you are unhappy with an election result, well you are stuck with it and as far as I can tell there is no way to appeal the election result.

I am in favor of neighborhood meetings where the elected official must attend to hear the concerns of the affected residents and see the reaction to the project outside of a public hearing.
Many times I have witnessed a neighborhood cry foul when any land use change is proposed nearby. I have seen firsthand how neighbors distort the reality of "unintended consequences" if the use is approved. If the amendment is passed regular citizens will lose their voice and effectiveness in shaping a land use change. Instead, a public war will erupt with ads, signs and commercials culminating in a municipal wide popularity contest.

Does that sound like democracy? If you think it is bad having 5-9 elected officials vote on a change near you wait until 150,000 vote to have the landfill in your backyard.