The editorial boards of most major Florida newspapers — including the St. Petersburg Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the Gainesville Sun, the Palm Beach Post, and others — have opposed Amendment 4, which would subject local land-use changes up for approval by voters.
This weekend, The Florida Times-Union joined that list, calling the measure “overkill” and arguing that it would “turn Florida into an anti-growth state”:
What Florida needs is a better alternative, such as requiring a super majority vote, something like requiring approval by four of five county commissioners or 13 members of Jacksonville’s 19-member City Council.
The Florida Legislature ought to take this up in the 2011 session and carefully look at the Citizen Bill of Rights suggested by 1000 Friends of Florida.
An ideal result would be a defeat of Amendment 4 at the polls, scaring the Legislature into enacting something similar to the Friends of Florida suggestion.
But on Friday, The Keynoter became the first newspaper “brave enough” to endorse the amendment, in the words of Florida Hometown Democracy, the group backing the initiative.
The endorsement notes that Amendment 4 may appear to have little effect on the Florida Keys, which were designated an Area of Critical State Concern in 1974, meaning local development decisions are already subject to final approval by the Department of Community Affairs:
But, in today’s uncertain times, the DCA is essentially a stopgap. There is a constant effort to get the Keys removed from agency control by ending the state critical concern oversight. One step in that direction is building centralized sewers throughout the county. Some areas in the Keys are farther along than others in achieving this goal.
Also, Rick Scott, the Republican nominee for Florida governor, says he’d like to do away with the DCA, arguing that the agency gets in the way of responsible government and is ultimately harmful to economic growth.
We agree that there are risks with Amendment 4, but the status quo has proved so risky that it led to a near-depression that has lasted years, with no end in sight. Maybe it’s time we trust the people most affected by decisions made by local lawmakers and developers. Life is full of risks, so why not gamble on the people who’ve paid the price when ambitious developers court lawmakers willing to be compromised.