Why I Am Voting YES on Amendment 4. By Albert Harum-Avarez

We know in our gut that land use in Florida is out of the control of citizens, and so Amendment 4—Hometown Democracy—has a strong attraction for anyone who cares about Florida. Turns out this is one of those cases where you can trust your gut. Here are the main arguments against Hometown Democracy, de-constructed one by one:

1. AMENDMENT 4 (HOMETOWN DEMOCRACY) IS TOO FAR-REACHING.

Here’s how the Miami Herald summarized the opponents’ argument the other day: “…the amendment amounts to an indiscriminate blast that, by leaving often technically complex decisions to the unpredictability of the ballot box, could make matters worse by inhibiting smart planning while stifling development in a state heavily dependent on it for jobs.”

It’s a classic scare tactic, evoking lost jobs and recession. But the truth is, overdevelopment is what has made the Great Recession even GREATER in Florida. And that happened under the current rules, not under Amendment 4. What we see today is mostly bad planning, and overbuilding has left us with an economy very vulnerable to downturns. None of that can be blamed on Amendment 4—which hasn’t passed yet.

2. THESE DECISIONS SHOULD BE LEFT TO ELECTED OFFICIALS, WHOM WE CAN VOTE OUT OF OFFICE IF THEY DO A POOR JOB.

Some people have swallowed the argument that elected officials should be entrusted with these Comp Plan decisions. Of course, we all know that local democracy is in a coma, induced by truckloads of developer money. County Commission incumbents have turned away challengers 56 times in a row–despite the commission’s craven record on land use decisions.

If you count Katy Sorenson’s win over sexual abuser Larry Hawkins 16 years ago, and if Jean Monestime is finally able to turn out bought-and-paid-for Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, the score will improve to 56 to 2. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of our democratic process. Elections have not given Florida’s voters a shred of confidence in their ability to steer development in this state. That’s why the Amendment 4 petition effort was supported so strongly.

3. THE RESULTING BALLOT MEASURES WILL BE NUMEROUS AND COMPLICATED.

This is a complete exaggeration. Complex administrative decisions will never get to the voters. If there is a ruling that minor technical matters have to go to a vote, The Developer Lobby will pull the strings on their legislative marionettes, and the statewide Comp Plan rules will be adjusted. Bank on it!

Please pass the word: YES on 4.

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2 Comments

  1. Fran

    Excellent post, Albert. I completely agree with you.

  2. sunnywindow

    Gotta say, it's a shame how completely inaccurate the WLRN/Herald coverage has been of Amendment 4. Shows how weak English-language local reporting is in Miami. There's more in Spanish–AND Kreyol!

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