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Thread: Florida hometown democracy amendment

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Voters may get power over comprehensive plans

    In a battle between True Democracy and Representative Democracy
    who would you prefer to decide land use?

    Source: Florida Trend, Mar 01, 2007
    Full Story: Who's Lesley Blackner?

    A possible amendment to the Florida Constitution would make changes to comprehensive plans require a popular vote.

    Backed by Environmentalists and No-Growth Advocates.
    Hated by Developers and elected officials, no mention of what professional planners think.
    GAH! - at least Florida recently passed a Amendment that requires new Amendments pass with 60% of vote- Ironically it was passed by only 58% of the vote.

    I wish Colorado had this protection from iniatives, there is some debate here if a recently passed amendment (41) prohibits any children of government employees (ie mine) from receiving scholarships.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    hey, you're living in the wrong state! this is how it works in most New England towns with a Town Meeting form of government - all comp plans and zoning changes go to Town Meeting for a full vote of whomever shows up

    it's actually quite chaotic but a lot of fun!

    I think it's so funny that other states are just clueing in that maybe everyone should vote on zoning and land use policy - all states should do this!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    it's actually quite chaotic but a lot of fun!

    I think it's so funny that other states are just clueing in that maybe everyone should vote on zoning and land use policy - all states should do this!
    We love democracy. It is more entertaining than any other system of government…and you can laugh at it without going to jail (at least, you could before the passage of the Patriot Act). - Bill Bonner

    Doesn't it bother you that the future of your community is decided through absurdity?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Doesn't it bother you that the future of your community is decided through absurdity?
    on the contrary - it's not absurd at all, it's what the people want - if we always did what we professionals wanted and thought was "right", we likely would not have the sub-cultures we have in this country and we'd be all living on the set of "Brazil"

    one of the many good advice moments I had about 15 years ago, was: after I had worked on this "great zoning amendment", met with neighborhoods, did all the right things for outreach and garnering consensus, well, it failed miserably and violently on Town Meeting floor - it was an absolute blood bath - and I was of course devastated after writing what would be in a publication of Zoning News, the perfect bylaw - but one of the Planning Board members that was also a Town Meeting member came up to me afterwards and said "Sometimes we just don't want good planning" - and like you, and at that time in my career, I was so mad that she had said that but then I realized she was right and I learned to not emotionally invest myself in it once it hits Town Meeting vote, it's theirs to decide not for me - I serve them, they don't serve me

    the beauty of planning, really, is that it's not life and death - the world will continue to spin and the lights go on in Town Hall regardless of an error made at the polls -

    one of the basis of humanity is free will - people need to choose their destiny, even if we who know better think their path is mistaken

    brush up on your ancient greece philosophers!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Desperate times call for desperate measures IMO. 90% of Florida's Comp. Plan Amendments and DRIs are unneccessary and will only worsen the infrastructure shortfalls and environmental degradation that has occurred. Let's make the process more political; this may be the only way to force an honest debate on what rampant, unmitigated development is doing to our quality of life. However, the current threshold for Large Scale Comp. Plan Amendments would need to be reexamined since this would affect any project over 10 acres or one in which residential density is increased over the existing land use classification.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    on the contrary - it's not absurd at all, it's what the people want - if we always did what we professionals wanted and thought was "right", we likely would not have the sub-cultures we have in this country and we'd be all living on the set of "Brazil"

    one of the many good advice moments I had about 15 years ago, was: after I had worked on this "great zoning amendment", met with neighborhoods, did all the right things for outreach and garnering consensus, well, it failed miserably and violently on Town Meeting floor - it was an absolute blood bath - and I was of course devastated after writing what would be in a publication of Zoning News, the perfect bylaw - but one of the Planning Board members that was also a Town Meeting member came up to me afterwards and said "Sometimes we just don't want good planning" - and like you, and at that time in my career, I was so mad that she had said that but then I realized she was right and I learned to not emotionally invest myself in it once it hits Town Meeting vote, it's theirs to decide not for me - I serve them, they don't serve me

    the beauty of planning, really, is that it's not life and death - the world will continue to spin and the lights go on in Town Hall regardless of an error made at the polls -

    one of the basis of humanity is free will - people need to choose their destiny, even if we who know better think their path is mistaken
    So if I get this right, chaos is what people want, your job is completely pointless, the people are better served living in a trash heap if that's what the process decided they chose.

    If democracy was really the choice of the people, it wouldn't be chaotic as you described it. The choice would be executed and that would be that. (See economic selection, not democratic election to find out what actual choice is.) Putting people in a room to shout over one another is not choice. You are imposing a choice on people, to have to take time out of their busy schedules to come defend their interests against others', for no reason than your belief in an absurd system that makes your career efforts worthless. Why can't people choose to get rid of democracy?
    brush up on your ancient greece philosophers!
    They all believed democracy was absurd, except for Socrates who was put to death by democracy.


    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Desperate times call for desperate measures IMO. 90% of Florida's Comp. Plan Amendments and DRIs are unneccessary and will only worsen the infrastructure shortfalls and environmental degradation that has occurred. Let's make the process more political; this may be the only way to force an honest debate on what rampant, unmitigated development is doing to our quality of life. However, the current threshold for Large Scale Comp. Plan Amendments would need to be reexamined since this would affect any project over 10 acres or one in which residential density is increased over the existing land use classification.
    I don't understand this logic at all. You face a problem created by politics, and the only solution you can find to it is make it even more political.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    I don't understand this logic at all. You face a problem created by politics, and the only solution you can find to it is make it even more political.
    I don't think the problem has been created by politics at all. If politics were more involved than better decisions might have been made, or at least considered. Under the status quo there is no political dynamic because the rules are so bureaucratic and unintelligable. It's become a rubber-stamping process rather than a decision-making process. Involving voters will at least bring about a discussion about decisions in themselves.
    P.S. I know you don't believe in democracy so spare me your diatribe. No offense, but I've heard it too many times before.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I don't think the problem has been created by politics at all. If politics were more involved than better decisions might have been made, or at least considered. Under the status quo there is no political dynamic because the rules are so bureaucratic and unintelligable. It's become a rubber-stamping process rather than a decision-making process. Involving voters will at least bring about a discussion about decisions in themselves.
    Bureaucracy is what happens when you try to create a complex system controlled politically. To inject more politics into the process is not going to fix the bureaucracy, it will just make the system more chaotic and possibly collapse it entirely.

    You can have it democracy two way. One way is to have a vote every time a decision has to be made. Obviously the costs of doing this makes it so that very few decisions can actually be made. The other way is to vote on a code that agents will have to obey whenever a decision relevant to the code has to be made. That is called bureaucracy.

    You're proposing to roll back to the first kind of democracy, but you will have to abandon the majority of your activities in order to sustain it.
    P.S. I know you don't believe in democracy so spare me your diatribe. No offense, but I've heard it too many times before.
    Why do you believe in democracy? If you're not willing to test the reasons why you do, you just accept democracy on faith. It's a religion, nothing more. You worship democracy without question.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by MountainTOD View post
    Backed by Environmentalists and No-Growth Advocates.
    Hated by Developers and elected officials
    I'd assume that sending comp. plan amendments to popular vote would result in restrictions on growth in established communities, because the public generally work to do everything in their power to increase their property values, and reducing the amount of housing in an area tends to do that.

    But an environmentalist living in say, Clearwater, should be all for population growth in Clearwater, using existing infrastructure instead of developing more virgin land out in New Port Richey (or wherever the sprawl is extending these days and the community sees growth as a tax benefit and not a drain).

    Environmentalists who only want to protect the environment of their home town, and "no-growth advocates" who only want to protect their own town from growth, are environmentalists and no-growth advocates only in name.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Why do you believe in democracy? If you're not willing to test the reasons why you do, you just accept democracy on faith. It's a religion, nothing more. You worship democracy without question.
    Moderator note:
    jaws: there is no way you can divine what hilldweller worships (or does not worship, for that matter) any better than I can. Keep your replies to the idea, not the individual.Carry on.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Domocracy in Planning is so overated. People don't care to get inolved until its near to them, and then they just say no. Bring on European style nanny states with decision making devolved to unelected technocrats i say... am i being serious? I'm not actually sure anymore... but you do alot of public consultation and you can get jaded very quickly...

    Its all balance at the end of day.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    I personally think having people vote on Comp Plans is a horrible idea. Why have professional staff if we are going to let NIMBY activist (the only people who participate these types of debates) drive the entire process to leverage their exclusionary agendas.
    Satellite City Enabler

  13. #13
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    avast ye mates!

    wow -

    property rights are one of the primary foundations of our country - many left England because they did not want serfdoms and the like

    I think people have to be able to vote on their comprehensive plans and if it's watered down or over tightened, so be it, that's what the people want - and as professional planners, that's part of our job, to try to help people guide and control their municipalities

    it's not about wanting chaos - what we planners see as chaos may not be seen as chaotic for the residents

    I would rather have the uncertainty of democracy than to have people's rights to choose how property is regulated taken away - democracy is not a religion, but often dictatorships are and look who rules England and its church!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    I going to take a jab at this:

    In many states (not all I imagine) compiled statutes grant powers and duties to elected and/or appointed officials. I think it would be up to those parties to cede power and authority over to the public, which they wouldn't.

    I still have my doubts though. Any ideas?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    wow -

    property rights are one of the primary foundations of our country - many left England because they did not want serfdoms and the like
    Feudalism never went away. The private landholding that was prevalent in England and colonial America was gradually replaced by communistic landholding under democratic administration.

    Property rights have actually been diminished in that process.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    wow -

    property rights are one of the primary foundations of our country - many left England because they did not want serfdoms and the like

    I think people have to be able to vote on their comprehensive plans and if it's watered down or over tightened, so be it, that's what the people want - and as professional planners, that's part of our job, to try to help people guide and control their municipalities

    it's not about wanting chaos - what we planners see as chaos may not be seen as chaotic for the residents

    I would rather have the uncertainty of democracy than to have people's rights to choose how property is regulated taken away - democracy is not a religion, but often dictatorships are and look who rules England and its church!
    The property right argument can be taken from either angle. A fine example would be a property owner on a main corridor who want commercial/office use. The market wants it, the property owner wants it, and there may be plans that support it, but the NIMBYs don't. Whose property rights are you protecting the individual or the select few in opposition. Is it not the job of a professional planner to provide nonbiased advice to the decision makers and community about it or should be just say, this is what the community wants so I will just facilitate your position? I am not discounting public participation. I am a true believer in the public process, but we cannot lose our ability to provide unbiased opinions when there is a need.
    Satellite City Enabler

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Huh, I knew this thread would bring jaws out, I didn't realize I would be on his side.

    New england town meetings work differerntly than they do elsewhere. More people come it seems like actual democracy. The ones around here are sparsely attended and packed with those who are against new projects, NIMBYs,BANANAs
    etc.

    If hilldweller is right and to many developments are greenlighted in florida, then perhaps thearea needs the kinda of check this will put on new new construction.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Desperate times call for desperate measures IMO. 90% of Florida's Comp. Plan Amendments and DRIs are unneccessary and will only worsen the infrastructure shortfalls and environmental degradation that has occurred. Let's make the process more political; this may be the only way to force an honest debate on what rampant, unmitigated development is doing to our quality of life. However, the current threshold for Large Scale Comp. Plan Amendments would need to be reexamined since this would affect any project over 10 acres or one in which residential density is increased over the existing land use classification.
    You are correct, these are beyond desperate times. The only way to slow down development and get a reasonable grasp on the situation is to bring the process into the light. Most DRIs and large scale land use changes are not even on the public’s radar. Most planners hate the referendum amendment. They believe it will slow down government, require too much work, and many think the public can not understand the issue well enough to make the type of 'professional' decision they could make. I think that if we want to think more regionally (and I do want to think more regionally) we must put the choices we make on the table. I find it amazing that you have pro-growth/approve anything commissions in areas with slow growth constituents. There is a disconnect between the elected officials and the general public. And the elected officials can do al lot of long term damage before you can vote them out. Bring these important decisions into the light and let the popular vote count. That way the public has no one else to blame when they bury a city or county.
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by Flying Monkeys View post
    Bring these important decisions into the light and let the popular vote count. That way the public has no one else to blame when they bury a city or county.
    The public will blame the side of the public that voted against them.

    Besides diverting blame for ruined land away from you and onto innocent people, is there a way that democracy can actually be constructive?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    The public will blame the side of the public that voted against them.
    So what? Better than the status quo.

    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Besides diverting blame for ruined land away from you and onto innocent people, is there a way that democracy can actually be constructive?
    Wouldn't a constructive outcome be halting unmanaged growth?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    So what? Better than the status quo.

    Wouldn't a constructive outcome be halting unmanaged growth?
    What makes you convinced more democracy will achieve that? Do you think people will show up every meeting and stay for hours to vote no on everything?

  22. #22
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    What makes you convinced more democracy will achieve that? Do you think people will show up every meeting and stay for hours to vote no on everything?
    you really need to practice in northern New England...the answer is uh, yeah!

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    you really need to practice in northern New England...the answer is uh, yeah!
    I'm looking for a way that this could be constructive. By your own example above you admitted that people vote down things regardless of how good or bad they are.

    P.S. You're not a lawyer or a physician. You do not "practice." You are an employee.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    on the contrary - it's not absurd at all, it's what the people want
    The problem with the town meeting is that it is NOT what "the people" want. It's only one a uniquely interested self-selected group of individuals wants. In a way, it's almost anti-democratic: you're letting a few veto the will of the majority.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by brandonmason View post
    a way, it's almost anti-democratic: you're letting a few veto the will of the majority.
    Are we a democracy or a republic (in the most basic definition of the word)?

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