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Thread: Florida growth limits [Was: Gov. Charlie Crist made a bad call on growth limits]

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    Florida growth limits [Was: Gov. Charlie Crist made a bad call on growth limits]

    Gov. Charlie Crist made a bad call on growth limits
    OUR OPINION: New law easing growth limits is statewide invitation to sprawl


    A new growth-management law signed by Gov. Charlie Crist this week broadly redefines ''dense urban land areas'' as land with less than one home per acre. That's like calling bucolic Parkland the equivalent of packed Hialeah.

    The change could allow condominiums and zero lot line townhomes in 245 Florida cities and in the entirety of eight of the state's largest counties -- including Broward and Miami-Dade. Worse, the law says that developers don't have to provide adequate infrastructure (think roads) to accommodate this growth.

    The governor's reason for signing this invitation to more sprawl is the state's economic downturn. ''Hopefully,'' Mr. Crist told reporters before signing it, ``we'll be able to stimulate our economy and not do harm to our beautiful state. That's my desire.''

    No one would quibble with those wishes, but this bill practically promises that harm will come to Florida's remaining open spaces. It poses such a threat that even some pro-growth commissioners on the Miami-Dade County Commission approved a resolution asking the governor to veto it. One of the bill's biggest flaws is removal of state oversight of a Development of Regional Impact. Until now the Department of Community Affairs has had authority over DRIs, which are just what they imply: developments of such large scope that they impact an entire region.

    They bring more traffic, more demand for classrooms, more use of water and sewer systems. Their swelling of the local population can even affect hurricane evacuation times.

    It's unwise to leave DRI choices solely up to local officials, whose vision may be clouded by builders' promises of new construction jobs and more property tax revenue.

    As to Mr. Crist's economic logic, Florida's glut of vacant homes for sale refutes any assumption that builders can find financing for new construction.

    Mr. Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate, has made a bad call at a time when his leadership was most needed.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/e...y/1080527.html

    Crist signs controversial growth-management bill
    Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed a controversial growth management bill that some say will stimulate the state's economy but others warn will increase urban sprawl.

    BY STEVE BOUSQUET
    Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

    TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday approved changes to Florida growth laws that supporters say will strengthen the economy and opponents predict will increase urban sprawl and traffic gridlock.

    The bill rewrites Florida's 25-year-old growth management law, principally by allowing developers in the most urban counties to add more housing developments without expanding roads and by allowing counties and cities to designate new urban areas that also would be exempt from certain road-building requirements.

    Sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton Republican and an electrical contractor, the bill passed both houses of the Legislature by wide margins.

    Business groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Association of Realtors hailed Crist's decision. The Chamber said the legislation ``updates Florida's growth laws without compromising environmental or land-use protections.''

    In signing the bill (SB 360), Crist, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, acknowledged the divisions it has caused. He has noted that his growth management expert, Tom Pelham, who runs the state Department of Community Affairs, had misgivings about the bill.

    ''I'm trying to be balanced on it and I know that it's probably one of those bills where nobody's going to be overly happy on either side of the argument,'' Crist told reporters a few hours before he acted. ``So hopefully it's right down the middle, and we'll be able to stimulate our economy and not do harm to our beautiful state. That's my desire.''

    The new law is designed to make it easier to build new residential housing, even as Florida wallows in a glut of housing caused by the foreclosure crisis.

    Crist signed the bill in private with no public ceremony. His press office issued a terse news release that attributed no quotations to Crist endorsing the legislation.

    The statement said the bill encourages entrepreneurs to develop in designated areas; requires a study of a ''mobility fee'' to pay for road and transit improvements; and extends for two years development permits that were in danger of expiring, including permits for mining and water use.

    ''We're pretty disappointed with this outcome,'' said Charles Pattison of 1000 Friends of Florida, a leading environmental organization in the state.

    ''We think this is going to lead to [development] approvals that won't lead to any immediate job creation, and you're going to have more sprawl,'' he said.

    Pattison and other environmentalists criticized the bill's definition of ''urban'' as 1,000 people per square mile.

    All major environmental groups opposed the bill, and mobilized their members to flood Crist's office with phone calls and e-mails urging a veto. Also fighting the bill were eight counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Collier, Lee, Lake and Wakulla.

    Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Dennis Moss said the legislation weakens local oversight of growth and increases the chance of sprawling development near the Everglades.

    ''It would open more of the western frontier of the county,'' Moss said.

    ''This removes a layer of scrutiny. The more scrutiny, the more review, and the more likely that local government will make the right decisions,'' Moss said.

    Herald/Times staff writers Marc Caputo and Shannon Colavecchio contributed to this report. Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/sout...y/1076955.html

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    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Again, goldfish planning. Is there nothing beyond expansion of the tax base that might give pause to a politician? Growth, if not in this sense, is pointless, apparently.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Rampant speculation and overbuilding is the reason why Florida has 10% unemployment and a housing market in its death throws, not the state's growth management rules or the Department of Community Affairs. The state has a two-year inventory of vacant housing, and then there are all the DRIs that have already received DCA's blessing but will never get built because there is no financing and there won't be any in the near future because the banks took such a beating. Gutting growth management isn't going to do a damn thing to fix this situation.

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    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Rampant speculation and overbuilding is the reason why Florida has 10% unemployment and a housing market in its death throws, not the state's growth management rules or the Department of Community Affairs. The state has a two-year inventory of vacant housing, and then there are all the DRIs that have already received DCA's blessing but will never get built because there is no financing and there won't be any in the near future because the banks took such a beating. Gutting growth management isn't going to do a damn thing to fix this situation.
    Amen!

    Florida's growth management is some of the strictest in the nation, gutting the legislation and chapter 360 isn't going to encourage the housing market to pick up. Larger changes to mortgages and making it easier for the underwater stock of homes on the market is the way to help Florida. I have several friends who are at least 30-40% underwater on their homes with no end in sight...there in lies the problem.

    I have always said that concurrency actually encourages sprawl, not curbs it...now we'll see what happens
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    ....[snip].... gutting the legislation and chapter 360.....[snip]....
    It's actually Chapter 163 of the Florida Statutes. It was SB 360.


    Anyway, word on the street is that Secretary Pelham of DCA is going to push through an administrative rule that will require each local jurisdiction to pass resolutions to claim exemptions from transportation concurrency and DRIs. This will allow another shot across the bow by opponents of this bill.

    We don't qualify.....

  6. #6
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    It's actually Chapter 163 of the Florida Statutes. It was SB 360.
    Thanks A year out of Florida and I am already mixing up my Senate Bill numbers and Florida Statutes!

    Anyways, I am not sure of the intent of the legislature on this one...do they want to start back up the growth machine by making it 'easier'
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    Thanks A year out of Florida and I am already mixing up my Senate Bill numbers and Florida Statutes!

    Anyways, I am not sure of the intent of the legislature on this one...do they want to start back up the growth machine by making it 'easier'
    This seems to be the same old cynical Florida land development politics. Find any reason to get around growth management rules (which really don't manage growth very well anyway) by using any excuse they can come up with.

    Of course getting rid of rules governing DRIs will make it easier for developers to do what they want. These people have 20-30 year time frames for these developments, so a blip in the economy like we have now means little to them. But removing oversight so they can entomb gopher turtles, drain wetlands, and strain infrastructure to the limit without any cost to themselves? That's just free money.

    Don't forget that many politicians in Florida are also large landowners, developers, or their relatives, so they are passing these laws to benefit themselves and their families directly. Plus, Pelham really hasn't endeared himself to a lot of people on the developers side, so anything they can do to make his life more difficult, they will.

    In other words, Florida as usual.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Hold on y'all!
    Not all DRI's are exempted. Only those in specfied areas. The same with transportation concurrency. An area has to meet density/minimum population standards to to become a transportation Concurrency Exception Area. While there are many problems with SB 360, there are some positives. The requirement to develop a mobility fee system to replace transportation concurrency is on the right track. We just have to see what DCA & FDOT come up with!.

    I agree that concurrency was one of the biggest sprawl inducers. This may remove the incentive to find remote areas where you have no transportation mitigation requirements. The remote areas still have concurrency. Move to within a more urban area to be spared concurrency.

    That said, I doubt it will much impact development. Some near ready projects may move forward, because of the limited time some of the provisions can be used.

    Florida's underlying problem is that the economy here has been based on a Ponzi scheme. Newe poeple moving in pay for the growth of those just before, and then the next moving in pay for the previous ones...Untill they stop comming! Ouch.

    The entire tax structure is the major issue and one wonders if there are any guts in the legislature to tackle that next year. Or will the R's still attempt tocut taxes?

  9. #9
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Richi, the exempted areas are anything with a population of over 1,000 per square mile.
    It's a long list.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I am not sure this is a bad thing. trans concurrency needed to go, promoted sprawl, and it is my opinion/experience that the DRI process was very inefficient and ineffective. I suspect it will soon be "replaced" by something "better." Lets see.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    RJ - Not exactly. There is a 5k minimum population plus the 1k per square mile. Thelist is not yet out. End of the month from ? (the office to prepare the list just jumped out of my head) to DCA then DCA has a week (I think) to publish the list

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    Growth Mismanagement

    Here's what I came up with:
    At least 217 municipalities (52.04%) likely count as Dense Urban Land Areas (DULAs)
    That's not counting the seven (eight?) counties.

    Here's what 1,000 people/sq.mile works out to:
    Average person/household in FL = 2.46
    acres/sq.mile = 640
    persons per acre = 1.56
    Dwelling Units per acre = 0.64

    So a density of 0.64 du/ac = Dense

    So, about half of FLA (municipalities by count - I didn't have the inclination to figure land area) is largely exempt from growth management.

    Yes, each municipality can come up with their own rules and regs but the bottom line is that what this bill does is basically allows DCA to wash their hands of growth management and delegate that task to just over half of the municipal planning departments – now that’s scary (no offense intended). What I mean by scary is the thought of how many of these small municipalities have the ability to effectively create and enforce fair and appropriate growth management techniques? How many are overtly and directly pressured by their elected officials who are in turn overtly and directly pressured by developers and property owners with big bucks and a lot of shoving power.

    When I was a planner at Clearwater (a city of about 100,000) I often had the feeling that we were protected to a certain degree by DCA and state regulations.

    I listened in on the DCA presentation through a webinar the other day and the big thing I noticed is the number of exceptions and special rules this bill weaves around and through.

    The whole thing seems to be a pretty obvious attempt to give a blank check to developers.

    The other thing that bugs me about this is the whole “this’ll jump start the economy” line of garbage. Really?!? Growth Management caused the economic free fall? Wow, and all this time I thought it was due to an overheated real estate market, a slew of cryptic and unsustainable mortgage options, greedy bankers (and property flippers) and just generally poor financial decisions made by those who should have know better. Silly me, it was the urban planners all along. What I want to know is, where’s my piece?

    So, instead of (at least the possibility) of a general, state-wide, coherent growth management plan were are going to be left with about 217 + individual growth management plans with room for more. I'm not saying that CH 163 was perfect, far from it (in some ways I guess I'm an anti-planner) but this is not cutting the Gordian Knot this is opening Pandora's Box.

    Anyway, ask me what I really think.
    Last edited by Tobinn; 16 Jun 2009 at 12:14 PM. Reason: spelling error
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
    (What Would Jimmy Durante Do?)

  13. #13
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    From the Florida Redevelopment Association, here's the list of "Dense Urban Land Areas."

    http://www.redevelopment.net/files/A...0360-DULAs.pdf

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    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    From the Florida Redevelopment Association, here's the list of "Dense Urban Land Areas."

    http://www.redevelopment.net/files/A...0360-DULAs.pdf
    I see the metropolis of Zephyrhills made the list... wow.

    I have been to most of these cities, to drive through many of them, I did not consider them "dense" Florida urban places (can we coin the word "Flurban" here?). I guess I should redefine my windshield survey methods of Flurban land identification.
    Last edited by H; 16 Jun 2009 at 11:44 PM.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    THAT is the list...what, half of those I would not consider dense at all, Macclenny, Live Oak...Palatka? Its sad to see all the hard work of the original authors of the Growth Management legislation be thrown aside for this garbage. Alot of those 'urban places' have little to no planning department and depend on the RPCs to do alot for them.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Last Friday, Tom Pelham (DCA Sec) said in a webinar that SB 360 just removed the state mandate for transportation concurrency. His position is that for local governments to "take advantage" of SB 360, the local comprehensive plan would have to be amended, because the plan is local law. Plan amendments in Florida take at least 6 months to a year.

    I would say expect a lawsuit, but that would likely take longer than the provisions in 360. This was an interesting end run around the bill and will do no good for DCA's continued survival. Next year issunset review for the DCA. Expect a BIG fight to kill DCA and move it's functions to another agency.

  17. #17
    Florida Hometown Democracy has been added as a 2010 ballot initiative. DCA will probably see a final rush of comp plan amendments initiated not only by developers but even localities due to Pelham's interpretation of SB 360. All this while wrapping up a tough sunset review.

    Next year should be very interesting, especially IF FHD passes. It's a perfect storm.

    http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/jun/...-certified-no/

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    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    Florida Hometown Democracy has been added as a 2010 ballot initiative.

    I was wondering if the recent actions would strengthen the FHD movement... I think maybe, yeah? what about yall?
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    I was wondering if the recent actions would strengthen the FHD movement... I think maybe, yeah? what about yall?
    I think it may. The 60% of the vote requirement may save the day, but I think it will be close. The economic downturn could reduce the appeal for the amendment for quite a few people.

  20. #20
    FHD will be a major setback for urban, infill development. I'm heavily biased since I despise Nimbyism, but I find NIMBYs typically rally against height and density while ignoring merits of proposals. Since there are far less Nimbys in rural areas, any comp amendments would therefore seem more likely to pass in rural areas - leading to sprawl - than in urban areas - stifling urban infill. Is this a reasonable assumption?

    H, I was approached by a friendly elder women a few months ago trying to get me to sign the FHD petition. She asked, "Would you like to help save the parks and the trees?" It took a minute to realize it was the FHD ballot initiative. I politely declined, and proceeded on my business. If I wasn't following FHD at the time, saving the "parks and the trees" sounded like a noble cause to add your signature to. With a major fight over the future of DCA brewing, the publicity might help their cause.

    I also wonder if property values in the state continue to remain depressed, would people vote in favor of FHD with the intention of limiting supply thus increasing existing home values??

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