Reckless over-development has crashed our economy, plummeted home values, threatened our quality of life, paved over Florida’s natural beauty and led to higher taxes.
Irresponsible local officials (egged on by special interests, lobbyists and developers with deep pockets for campaign contributions) have let much of this happen while the public’s voice was not heard.
Amendment 4 will fix this problem.
It would give voters a seat at the table when important land-use decisions are made and the ability to veto those development projects that are not in a community’s best interests. Today, politicians exclusively decide where development happens. They have the power to allow changes to the community’s long-range growth blueprint, called a local comprehensive plan. Amendment 4 adds one new step to this process: you.
Here is how Amendment 4 works if we approve it Nov. 2: Your city or county commission will study and vote as usual on changes to the local comprehensive plan. But, after they vote, commissioners will have to submit that approved plan change to you — the voter — in a referendum on the next regularly scheduled Election Day. You will either veto it or approve it. It’s that simple. Amendment 4 doesn’t require special elections. And it will end the boom-and-bust cycle that has plagued Florida’s economy for decades.
Amendment 4 applies only to changes to the comprehensive land-use plan, not to the more frequently decided individual development approvals, re-zonings or variances. A review of Department of Community Affairs land-use plan change applications shows that the average city/county government in Florida has only 4.2 such requests annually, an amount that surely will not clog up any ballot and well below the scare tactics figure invented by opponents to Amendment 4.
Don’t be swayed by desperate attempts by business special interests to sway this election with half-truths and scare tactics. These special interests will say or do anything to maintain the status quo and their ability to influence elected officials. And it’s your right to vote that is at stake.
Amendment 4 is on the ballot as the result of a citizen-led grassroots effort to level the playing field in Florida and give voters a chance to be heard on development issues. Dozens of respected leaders and organizations across the political spectrum have endorsed Amendment 4. You can read more about who believes in this change and how Amendment 4 will work by going to our website, www.floridahometowndemocracy.com.
Experience shows we can’t trust the Legislature in Tallahassee to protect our homes and communities in this state. We should get a vote before we’re forced to pay for politicians’ mistakes.
Lesley Blackner is president of Florida Hometown Democracy.