Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letter from planner/land use lawyer Andrew Dickman supporting Amendment 4

Dear Friends:

After a lot of thought and soul searching, I have decided to publicly support “Amendment 4” sponsored by the grassroots organization called “Florida Hometown Democracy.” I normally don’t use this type of mass emailing, but I feel so strongly about this issue - one I have spent the last 20 years of my life working on – that I want you to understand Amendment 4. If you want off this list, just send me an email.

Amendment 4 is a ballot question that will be presented to Florida voters on Election Day this November 2010. This is a ballot question asking voters if they want to amend the State’s constitution so that local governments can change their long-range future land use plan only after a vote of the electors affected by that change. Currently those decisions are left up to your city and county elected officials.

In 1985, the Florida Legislature adopted what became know as the “Growth Management Act.” The general purpose of this Act was 1) to make all cities and counties prepare and obey comprehensive plans to control how and where future development would occur, and 2) to ensure that the public “participate to the fullest extent possible.” The idea was that planned growth would stop or slow suburban sprawl, protect important environmental resources, and help make our communities more livable and sustainable. The other idea was that citizens would get a significant role in how these decisions are made.

Twenty-five years later the State is a mess and citizens have no meaningful role other than a few minutes to speak to their local elected officials at the public hearing when future land use changes are made. Developers and their team of lawyers, lobbyists and experts almost always get their way, and, meanwhile, trust in the government approving these developments is at an all-time low. Simply put: the system is broken.

My family has lived in Florida for generations; I’m a certified planner, an attorney, and I have watched hundreds of amendments to the future land use plan get approved which collectively are ruining what I love about this state. It literally sickens me. In my view, the only solution is to balance the decision-making power between the developers, the local government, and the people. Amendment 4 will do this.


The opposition is mounting an elaborate campaign against Amendment 4 which is based exclusively on fear and speculation, not facts. As Election Day approaches, more and more of these kinds of fear-based messages will get targeted at you.

Developers and the indirect industries that rely on unfettered sprawl into rural and agriculture lands will stop at nothing to continue the status quo, even though every study since 1985 has documents that we have allocated so much land for future growth that it will take decades to build out. Yet local future land use plans continue to be amended all the time for more houses and strip malls, the cost of which to extend roads and schools to those locations are borne by the entire community. This is NOT growth management. In my view, the only way to instill fairness into this process is through Amendment 4 – give voters the opportunity to decide if their future land use plan should be changed.

I realize Amendment 4 is a significant change to the current system. But the current system has done NOTHING to protect natural resources, NOTHING to stop private condos from replacing recreational and working waterfronts, NOTHING to stop new incompatible developments from encroaching on existing neighborhoods, or NOTHING to build a broader economic base that isn’t vulnerable to the boom-bust real estate cycles. Florida, I have concluded, simply cannot wait for developers and elected officials to recognize the harm they are causing.

Once again, please visit the Florida Hometown Democracy website and get involved. But most importantly, vote for Amendment 4!

Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this further and share this email with others as you see fit.

Andrew Dickman, AICP, Esq.
Miami - T: (305) 758-3621 F: (305) 758-0508
Naples - T: (239) 434-0840 F: (239) 434-0940
P.O. Box 771390, Naples, FL 34107-1390

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