Florida Growth Management

Water management and availability will be key in determining population growth and development. Click here to learn more.

September 24 - State to Appeal Unconstitutional Ruling on Senate Bill 360

The Attorney General's Office filed a notice in Circuit Court on September 24 saying that it was appealing to the 1st District Court of Appeal on behalf of Gov. Charlie Crist, Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul after Francis denied requests for rehearings. A group of cities successfully challenged the law as an "unfunded mandate" prohibited by the state constitution (see August 26 information below). It remains to be seen if the state's decision to appeal stays the implementation of the ruling. The highly controversial Bill will continue to be debated in and out of the courts until the next Legislative session.

August 26 - Senate Bill 360 Ruled Unconstitutional

In his ruling on August 26, Leon County Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis ruled that Senate Bill 360 is unconstitutional. The ruling was based upon Florida law barring unfunded mandates, where the Legislature tells local governments to enforce a new law without giving them the financial wherewithal to pay for it.

The law was challenged by several cities and counties, including a handful in South Florida. However, we don't have much time to bask in the glow of victory. The main author of SB 360 -- Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, an electrical contractor by trade -- has already begun work on a new version of SB 360 and promises to introduce it in the next session. Anticipating rulings to SB 360, lawmakers included a provision in this year's economic development bill (SB 1752) that "blesses" large-scale projects as being in good faith if they were filed under SB 360.

Click here to read about the ruling.

Senate Bill 360 Background

At the very end of the 2009 Legislative Session, a controversial Bill intended to weaken oversight on the State Growth Management Act by Florida's Department of Community Affairs was passed and signed by Governor Crist. FCFP opposed language in the original Bill and supported the 30+ Florida municipalities who launched court action to have key provisions declared unconstitutional. The Bill will be amended for better or worse in the next Legislative Session. The Coalition is not a lobbying entity, but we intend to support sensible legislation that protects the environment, and recognizes that Florida can no longer grow itself out of a recession at any cost.

In their haste to make changes to the state's Growth Management Act, our legislators removed critical protections afforded to environmentally sensitive barrier islands, coastal communities, and Coastal High Hazard Areas (CHHA). In effect, SB 360 considers most of our Florida coastline to be a "Dense Urban Land Area" that can be exploited almost at will. Ironically, the state has long recognized that the land and marine environment along our extensive shoreline require special protection from overdevelopment. By exempting these priceless areas from traditional state scrutiny, we could be opening ourselves to abusive development practices affecting residents, visitors and the native habitats alike.

Florida has already allowed too much overdevelopment on our oceanfront. We cannot afford to let our guard down in order to stimulate a flagging economy.

Hometown Democracy Amendment On November Ballot

Original passage of SB 360 added fuel to a proposed amendment to Florida's Constitution whereby voters will have a voice on any significant changes to their local Comprehensive Plans. Amendment 4 will appear on the November ballot. If 60% of Florida voters approve the amendment, major changes in local land use will require a public referendum. "Hometown Democracy" is an appealing concept. As a practical matter, implementation could cause chaos in administration of local land use laws.

The Coalition believes that whether or not the Amendment passes, the proposal is bound to have a profound impact on future growth management in the state. The current system has not done a good job in restraining overdevelopment. The fact that most developers and government officials are strongly opposing Amendment 4 is testimony to a belief that the gravy train may soon be leaving the station. The Department of Community Affairs is now reviewing a record number of development proposals, in some instances filed just in case that Amendment 4 may pass.

The initiative is supported by the leaders of Florida Hometown Democracy. Click here to learn more.

Floridians opposed to the initiative have started a campaign, Floridians for Smarter Growth. Click here to learn more.

The 1000 Friends of Florida has taken a neutral position on Amendment 4. Click here to learn more.

To view all constitutional Amendments on Florida's 2010 ballot, click here.