The “No on 4″ campaign released a new video drawing attention to the diversity of groups opposing Amendment 4. The gist of it is that the opposition goes far beyond developers and Republicans:
All but one of the state’s newspaper editorial boards and many Democratic politicians (the video quotes Alex Sink, the most prominent example) also oppose the amendment, along with labor unions, tax watchdogs, and urban planners.
Though the opposition is diverse, Lesley Blackner — the president of Florida Hometown Democracy, the group behind the amendment — said in an earlier interview that it consists largely of groups in some way invested in the status quo.
From builders to labor unions and politicians to planners, the groups aligned against the amendment tend to be those that have benefited from the growth patterns that have predominated in Florida and the political system that enabled them, Blackner said.
Some of those same groups have said they agree that the growth pattern needs to change. Amendment 4 supporters believe that can’t happen unless the decision-making process changes, too.
Whether the amendment would lead to more responsible planning is another question. Opponents say it would lead to the opposite. “The hardest thing for a developer to do is to locate a dense neighborhood next to a less-dense neighborhood,” said Doug Buck, of the Florida Home Builders Association.
In other words, Amendment 4 could allow the residents of single-family homes opposed to mixed-use condos or affordable apartments to vote down the plan amendments that would make them possible (unless, of course, the new development was allowed under the existing land-use plan or local opponents were overridden by the rest of the voters).
Amendment supporters see contempt for the average voter. But is the amendment a “special interest power grab,” as the video asserts in its closing frames?
Blackner said that there is a power grab at work, in the sense that the amendment would give voters veto power over local decision-makers who have often ignored their concerns about growth.
The amendment is designed around the idea that it’s easier for developers to sell a planning board or county commission on a decision to amend an existing growth plan than to convince the population as a whole. Is the voting public a “special interest”?
“They like the control,” Blackner said. “[Developers] like to know that they can go to the commission and get what they want.”