Hometown Democracy Debate at Tiger Bay

02/19/10 Arielle Stevenson
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Hundreds of thousands of Florida voters signed the petition for Amendment 4, the Hometown Democracy amendment, which requires voter approval on changes in land use. Advocates on both sides of the issue duked it out today at the Tiger Bay club in Tampa. Dan Lobeck, a Sarasota attorney specializing in land use decisions, spoke in support of the amendment.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan determines maximum densities and intensities of a community. The plan also maps out other rules for the further growth of a community.

But Ryan Houck, executive director for Floridians for Smarter Growth, which opposes Hometown Democracy, says Amendment 4 will further politicize the process.

St. Pete Beach implemented a similar program at a local level in 2006. Lobeck says that program was an overall success.

But Houck says the one case which went into litigation exemplifies exactly why Amendment 4 is a bad idea.

Yesterday, in a 4-2 decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of hometown democracy supporters. People who opposed the amendment had contended that many who had signed had done so under false pretenses. Lobeck says this decision shows tactics of slander on the part of opposition.

Houck says he respects the court’s decision but feels those signature revocation efforts were valid.

According to Lobeck, one of the tactics being used by opponents of Amendment 4 is warning that there will be easier access to land use for adult-themed businesses.

Adult club owner Joe Redner was in the audience and confronted Houck directly on the accusation. Houck responded.

But Lobeck disagreed with Houck’s response.

Lorraine Duffy Swareze, a professional planner who has worked on comprehensive plans throughout her career, said she is against the amendment.

Thalia Potter, a community activist in Tampa Bay, says she is still uncertain on the issue.

WMNF will continue to bring you coverage on Amendment 4 until November.

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Amendment 4

I will be voting against Amendment 4. If this passes, it will effectively stifle economic growth in Florida. No business will consider opening in Florida if they first have to wage a campaign to the voters in order to begin building a store. No new businesses means no jobs.


Business growth does not rely solely on the posibility of a land use change. There are thousands of shovel-ready parsels already on the books throughout this state. Right now, our city and county land use plans have, on the books, designations that allow development for over 100 million people. Florida’s current population is about 18 million; tens of thousands of empty homes have yet to be sold. How much more do you want?

Amendment 4 is bad for the economy

Jill, Your comments continue to focus only on construction jobs and new building. What about the businesses that want to relocate to Florida but will have to wait more than 2 years to get minor land use changes approved. This is the real downside to A4. What if Microsoft wanted to relocate from Seattle to Tampa but the only parcel of land needed minor land use changes for the build-out to take place? The red tape that A4 would create would discourage them from coming to Florida and the Tampa economy would lose out on many jobs and the state would lose out on potential sales tax revenue. A4 supporters are clearly satisfied with our recession.

Amendment 4 smells like a dirty diaper

Comprehensive Plans reley on the professional involvement and input of qualified planners, engineers and attorneys that are ultimatlly decided on by our elected officials. Yes, residental homes is one part. But what Jill Yelverton has so conveiently omitted is that roads, schools, and fire services are also included in the plan. Having voters who are unfamiliar with the local Comprehensive Plan make decisions is a recipe for desaster. Do you trust your neighbor to make the right decision? Vote No on 4! www.florida2010.org

The Proof is in St. Pete Beach

"St. Pete Beach implemented a similar program at a local level in 2006. Lobeck says that program was an overall success" If this was an over all success, why did the citizens repeal the majority of the provisions and dramatically narrow the issues that need to go to a referendum (something the drafters of Amendment 4 won't do)? It didn't work for the small town, and it certainly won't work for all of Florida Even if we are just talking about comprehensive plans (though, that isn't necessarily the definition in the Amendment), this would mean everything goes to a vote - parks, schools, environmental preservation, road and traffic safety - not just developers and their proposals. If you want to fix problems with growth management, there are ways to do it. This over broad, vague, amendment isn't the answer. It will mean we stay where we are - sprawling and in a recession.

Vote NO on 4

Amendment 4 is bad for our state. The proponents use emotion and not facts to try to sway voters. A recent study (http://www.florida2010.org/docs/20100121_Amendment4_Impact_Scenario.pdf) concluded that if Amendment 4 passes, our state will lose even more jobs. In these dire economic times, we cannot afford to lose more jobs and stifle business growth. We need to help attract busineses and job growth, not propel our state into a permanent recession.


Amendment 4 does NOT approve zoning for anything. That strip club owner is clearly mistaken. However, what Amendment 4 is, is a jobs killer: if you like the Great Recession, you'll LOVE Amendment 4. We voters would have to vote on EVERY little improvement, every bridge, every new school or church - if it requires a land use change to our local Master Plan. We barely have time in the voting booth to review the candidates, no less development projects. This is a TERRIBLE idea. It may have worked in Ancient Athens, where there were 2,000 guys (men only remember?) running aorund in togas who voted on civic issues - EVERY NINE DAYS - (read your history, Ms. Blackner). Our constituion established REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY - not direct democracy. Maybe she forgot or something. I'm voting against this and telling everyone I know to do the same. Gridlock is what this is.

Sr Property Manager

This amendment would essentially turn every Florida land-use decision into a political popularity contest. Popular land uses, such as large homes on multi-acre lots, might be readily approved by a majority of voters, but practical but unpopular uses, such as gas stations, apartments, grocery stores, and any number of other essential services might have little hope of winning a majority of the popular vote. This amendment would result in short-term thinking, invite lawsuits and retard economic development.This proposed referendum seeks to replace our American system of representative government with a form of direct democracy over property rights. The framers of our Constitution designed our representative form of democracy to check government’s power and to protect the rights of individuals and minorities from domination by self interested majorities. Additionally, comprehensive plans are thick, technical documents usually written by professional planners, not easily deciphered by the layperson.