Now typically I wouldn’t take an opportunity on my blog to discuss a political stance. However, since Amendment 4 affects property owners and their rights, I believe it’s very important for everyone to know how its passage could affect our day to day lives. You might not own property…but you frequent someone’s property every day. Whether it’s your place of work, where you eat, or where you have fun on the weekends.
Amendment 4 affects all of us. Amendment 4 would require that voters approve changes to their local comprehensive land use plans. These plans are growth management plans that cities and counties use to outline the specifics of future development. At first it might seem like a move touting democracy (in which governmental decisions are made by public referenda). However America’s Founding Fathers established a representative democracy because it allows for thoughtful consideration of complex issues and requires elected officials to balance competing interests rather than simply relying on popular opinion. Amendment 4 is hyper democracy…something our founding fathers long warned against because it is a threat to our republic form of government.
Now without further adieu…I present to you…(trumpets playing…)
The Top Ten Reasons to Vote No on 4!
- Amendment 4 will cost jobs – A recent study by the Washington Economics Group shows that Amendment 4 is likely to cost over 260,000 jobs and reduce Florida’s economic output by more than $34 billion per year. That will make businesses tougher and more expensive to grow! If you think we’ve got empty commercial plazas now, just wait to see what happens if Amendment 4 passes.
- Amendment 4 will raise taxes – If Amendment 4 passes, it will likely necessitate an average of two special elections for each Florida voter, the direct estimated annual cost to the taxpayers throughout Florida would be between $44.6 million to $83.4 million.
- Amendment 4 will hurt Florida’s economy – A local version of Amendment 4 has already caused higher taxes, fewer jobs and more lawsuits in one Florida town. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the measure has been “divisive, expensive and an impediment to much needed re-development.” When St. Pete Beach voters approved four pro-economy changes to their comprehensive plan in 2008, Amendment 4 lawyers sued to overturn the election. More than a year later, St. Pete voters are still fighting to defend their vote in court! The St. Petersburg Times concludes that Amendment 4 “invites short term thinking and frequent referendums that are even more susceptible to well-financed campaigns by powerful interests.”
- Amendment 4 will cost taxpayers millions and lead to confusion at the polls – Under Amendment 4, the taxpayers will be forced to fund expensive referenda for every technical change to their local comprehensive plan. The Editorial Board of the Orlando Sentinel pointed out that these costs would “soar into the millions.” It would not be uncommon for voters to face 200 or 300 minor plan revisions on a single ballot. According to a review of state records, the residents of Carrabelle-a small Franklin County town-would have voted 617 times if Amendment 4 had been law in 2006. THIS SHOULD BE REASON ENOUGH…But there are still six more reasons to VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 4!
- Amendment 4 is not intended to empower voters – Under this proposal, special interests on both sides of the development debate will gain influence at the expense of ordinary citizens. Imagine political ads for a school, a hospital, a fire station, a new neighborhood, or a new plaza. I know I can barely stand watching political ads a month before an election…what if Orange or Seminole county residents had 300 things to vote on? How many ads would that be?
- Amendment 4 will cost jobs and encourage sprawl – Over 200 organizations have opposed Amendment 4 because of its impacts on Florida’s economy. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has called the measure a “jobs killer.” It could also encourage sprawling patterns of development leading to disorganized growth.
- Popular opinion will not protect common interests – As our cities, counties and state grow, so too do the demands for programs, facilities and new technologies. What is the likely outcome of a “popular vote” for the need to change future land use to accommodate a landfill, a prison or a homeless shelter? The “not in my backyard” mentality will halt any thoughtful and fair planning. While we may be discussing high speed rail and nuclear power today, “popular vote” will not allow the creativity and flexibility to plan for the unknown.
- Less Accountability – Elected officials would no longer be accountable for their decisions on growth issues, because they would no longer make the final decisions. While the current system has its flaws, it maintains the power to elect or remove the decision makers.
- The ends don’t justify the means – There is hardly another topic so complicated and important in Florida than growth management. While it would be easy to point to specific projects or localities that have made poor decisions, the process we currently have is still the best tool to address the complexities of growth management. Amendment 4 would seek to abandon an imperfect process with an imperfect and inflexible policy. This approach will not serve Floridians well.
- Amendment 4 moves your property rights from private to public – One of the greatest things we can do as Americans is own land, we have that right. Amendment 4’s envisioned re-structuring of property rights from private to public and the associated change in decision-making from the marketplace to the ballot box will certainly have devastating, lasting effects on Florida’s economy, the taxpayers and the cities and counties throughout our state. Commercial and residential investment as well as business formation and expansion will diminish. Higher costs will emerge for approved commercial and residential investment as well as forming new businesses and expanding existing ones.
Join me in Voting NO on Amendment 4.