Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't let developer overturn land-use plans

It is common in Florida for developers to push the limits of government regulation to turn a profit. But a recent claim against Hillsborough County's land-use rules is brazen even by the most generous definition of being business-friendly.

Developer Stephen J. Dibbs wants to overturn more than a dozen years of community planning that has allowed a slice of northwest Hillsborough County to retain its rural flavor amid suburban sprawl. Dibbs' federal lawsuit is a disingenuous attempt to maximize the profit potential of his real estate investments under the guise of, among other things, promoting public health and looking out for the interests of a low- and moderate-income population.

The suit, which also asks for remuneration for past land-use disputes between Dibbs and the county, seeks to invalidate the community plan for Keystone and Odessa. That plan limits residential density, targets commercial business location, sets architectural design standards and prohibits walled developments, among other things. The suit characterizes the rules as "a collection of arbitrary and discriminatory mandates created by a small group of activists.'' The contrary view is more common. When first begun in 1998, the rules were hailed widely as a model for community planning and inspired similar, though unsuccessful, efforts in neighboring Pasco County where a citizens group wanted to replicate the Cracker-style architectural standards for Land O'Lakes.

Arguments can be made about the effectiveness of individual components within the plan. Low-density housing on 5-acre lots, for instance, makes central water and sewer service cost-prohibitive and forces much of the area to rely on septic tanks and well water. But to suggest that such a provision threatens public health is a stretch considering there are more than 2.6 million septic sewage systems in Florida serving about a third of the state's population. Likewise, the contention that the land-use rules discourage the less affluent from living there would be more logical if someone was actually considering Odessa-Keystone as a site for affordable housing.

Most notably, the date of the real estate transactions undermines Dibbs' claims. He purchased his property after the plan earned county approval and there isn't a good explanation for what appears to be an absence of due diligence. Granting favored treatment after the fact would be a disservice to the rest of the Odessa-Keystone area, where residents expect the county to preserve the community's rural characteristics.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18