Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Governor Crist should veto bad growth bill

Dear Governor,

So, how's it going? I bet this time of year, everybody wants to tell you which bills passed by the Legislature you should approve or veto.

Forgive me for adding to all the noise. Still, you really should veto Senate Bill 360, the so-called "growth management" bill.

I know a lot of people want you to sign it and I know their reasons.

The stated goals are good. Help get Florida moving again. "Fill in" our urban areas with new construction.

But, hiding behind those goals, this bill goes way too far. It guts the Growth Management Act of 1985. It basically repeals that law.

Is that your legacy?

The bill repeals our rules for controlling growth in too many places. In fact, the list is ridiculously broad.

For example, the bill weakens growth rules for any "dense urban area" — anywhere there is a population of 1,000 people per square mile. That's about one person per acre!

You have a letter from the Florida chapter of the American Planning Association on this precise point. It says:

"This is not true urban density. Applying this definition across entire jurisdictions also results in conservation, agricultural and rural areas being treated as 'dense urban land areas.' ''

Every big county and any decent-sized city (something like 245 cities) would be exempt from the rules, or could declare big development within their borders to be exempt.

Along with "dense urban land areas," also exempt would be anything called an "urban service area" or a "community redevelopment area."

Lastly, so would anything labeled a "job creation project" — what a loophole!

SB 360 further says we no longer have to use the rule of "concurrency" for new growth — we no longer have to worry about whether our local roads can handle it. We are just flat throwing that silly rule right out the window.

Instead, the bill says that we will study something called a "mobility fee." Study. Consider. Plan.

You also have a letter from the group 1000 Friends of Florida on this point about roads. It says:

"The resulting congestion, inefficiency and level-of-service failures will have unintended and incalculable consequences for the state transportation system, and Florida's economy."

On top of all that, this bill largely throws out our rules for bigger projects, which are called "Developments of Regional Impact."

The key word there is "regional." Bad decisions made by even a little burg or county can have a major impact on entire regions, even the whole state.

This is not a close call.

You should veto SB 360 and ask for tighter definitions of "dense" areas, reining in the too-broad scope, while praising the Legislature's intentions and asking it to try again in 2010 — when you'll have another chance to sign it.

Like I said, we had more than a half-century of the kind of cheap, destructive, unregulated growth in Florida that this bill seeks to bring back.

You grew up here. You saw it. You are a Floridian.

But you're more than that. When you hold that pen in your hand to sign or veto this bill, you are Florida.

In your heart, you know this bill is wrong.

Governor Crist should veto bad growth bill 05/23/09 [Last modified: Sunday, May 24, 2009 6:23am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs while improving his defense and baserunning.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights


    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises


    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]