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Florida unwisely repeals its growth laws

I do not think enough Floridians realize what this governor and this Legislature have done — are doing — to our state.

Let me tell you, brothers and sisters:

It's bad.

It's awful. It is just about the end of Florida as we know it, and a return to bad old days that we ought to have put behind us forever.

From the end of World War II until the mid to late 1970s, Florida sold itself on the cheap to anybody with a dollar and a shovel.

We didn't care if the roads were jammed and crumbling. We didn't care if we fouled and choked the lakes and rivers and bays. We didn't care if our kids went to school in house trailers.

All you had to do to keep building was to buy off the local Boss Hogg. Right after I moved here, the chairman of the Pasco County Commission was indicted. Not long after that, a quorum of the Hillsborough County Commission was indicted.

Floridians finally got sick of all this.

We passed a series of landmark laws in the 1970s and 1980s to clean up the state and to guide its future.

The most important law of all was the Growth Management Act of 1985.

That law said that before a Florida community could allow more growth, it had to have enough roads, enough schools, enough water and sewer and police, enough public services to handle it.

That has been our law for the past 25 years. The state government has played the role of traffic cop, making sure that Florida's cities and counties obeyed it.

But times change.

There is a new, inexperienced generation in power in Tallahassee that does not know anything except money.

And so with no maturity or intelligence, the 2011 Legislature has just repealed the guts of the Growth Management Act.

Unless a miracle happens, Gov. Rick Scott will sign that repeal into law.

They use the catchall excuse that justifies everything in Tallahassee these days: "creating jobs."

So once again, it will be the official policy of our state that We Don't Care about the impact of growth.

The state is removed from its traffic cop role. The state agency in charge has been abolished in the budget.

As for the local Boss Hoggs, they are back in business.

The heart of growth management was a "comprehensive plan" in each city and county, which it could not change willy-nilly.

But that constraint is gone now. Cities and counties can change their comprehensive plans any time they wish, as often as they wish — and for anybody that they wish.

• • •

We will feel the full effect of these changes once Florida comes roaring out of the recession.

This will happen.

And when it happens, Floridians who love Florida will be in for a shock.

The state that we have lived in for the past quarter-century is gone.

The rules that we have lived under are gone. The underlying concepts of "growth management" are gone.

These brittle, ideological, bought-and-paid-for young men and women in Tallahassee do not know any better. The governor is living in a different universe, and he does not know or care.

Is this the Florida you want?

Florida unwisely repeals its growth laws 05/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 5:16pm]
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