Courtesy of the Sarasota Herald Tribune:
The 1960s. Ah yes. Those were the good old days when fast-talking developers could divvy up swampland, sell it to Yankees and skip town, leaving it to someone else to pave the roads and extend the water lines and build the schools for all the newcomers.
It won’t be a pretty place.
Now, we are taking a giant step back to those times courtesy of the Florida Legislature and Senate Bill 360, awaiting the governor’s signature.
OK, it’s not quite that bad, but, under the guise of more local control, the legislation does gut some key growth management protections of the last two-plus decades.
For instance, rules now require that an area have adequate roads to handle a development, whether it’s a residential subdivision or a Super Wal-Mart. Under the new legislation, developers would pay less, and you-know-who would pay more when roads have to be built. In the meantime, we’ll all sit in traffic jams.
The old rules tried to ensure that schools had enough classroom space to accommodate a new development. The new legislation would count portables as part of that capacity. Sure, students can learn in portables, but installing them smacks of afterthought, hardly an image we want to foster in legislation that pretends to advocate sound planning principles.
The new proposal would also practically eliminate the Development of Regional Impact concept, which acknowledges that a large development in one area can create expensive problems for an adjoining area, problems that have to be addressed before approval.
In the short term, the erosion of growth management might create a few jobs and line a few pockets, but it would cost someone dearly.
If growth does not pay for itself, existing residents have to pay, starting with the owners of the 300,000 houses sitting vacant statewide right now.
If they wanted to stimulate the economy, legislators could have concocted incentives for businesses trying to develop alternative energy sources. That might have encouraged a different type of growth, one not dependent on a population explosion.
Instead, state lawmakers fell back on the same old, same old. They raised taxes on cigarettes and drivers licenses. They talked about drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
And, they tried to jumpstart what they hope will be the next real estate boom to be followed by the inevitable bust.
Back to the future.