Amendment 4 Debate Continues in Dunedin listen05/24/10 Andrea Lypka
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Pinellas County residents could hear about the Hometown Democracy Amendment in Dunedin on May 21st. If this amendment is adopted, local governments will have to summarize their comprehensive land use plans for residents in 75 words, and residents will have a final veto on comprehensive land use plans in cities. Currently, city commissioners decide on the comprehensive land use.
Among the attendees are business owners, local officials, and residents. Among the concerned citizens is a travel agency owner, Kris Gray.
Well, I guess I just have to listen to both sides, and make my decision after I hear them.
Pro- and anti-amendment speakers debated about the pros and cons of the Hometown Democracy Amendment.
One of them was Kevin Hing, chair of the Beach Stewardship Committee, who said a similar amendment was passed in 2006 in St. Pete Beach.
As a resident of St. Pete Beach, the only Florida city that has enacted Hometown Democracy Amendment-like measures, I've lived through the experience of trying to implment these regulations. And I can say as a resident that these things just don't work.
If this amendment is adopted, local governments will have to summarize their comprehensive plan for residents in 75 words. Hing says that ballot language challenges have been the core of the lawsuitgs in St. Pete Beach.
There have been over three lawsuits filed against the city of St. Pete Beach for their attempts to implement Hometown Democracy-style land use regulations. And the focus of those has been the ballot language that state law requires the city to use. The city is forced to summarize complex comp plan amendments in 75 words or less. And it's horrendously difficult to do.
To justify his point, Hing asked the audience to summarize the Bible in 75 words. Hing says the out-of-control legal costs suffered by the city of St. Pete Beach will plague other cities if Amendment 4 is passed.
Every city in the state of Florida is also going to be subject to similar litigation if they are also forced to summarize their comp plans and their comp plan amendments in 75-word summaries.
Stephanie Oddo, a Belleair city commissioner, brought a comprehensive plan to demonstrate to the public that these complex plan changes cannot be summarized in 75 words as required by the law in Florida. She says these special elections will drive up costs that are ultimately passed on to the taxpayer.
If it changes the countywide user land use plan, you're now going to have everyone in the Pinellas County voting on a little Dunedin change. You are going to have all these county residents weighing in on that. One million dollars, that’s what the county attorney tells me it takes, it costs to have an election.
Christopher Giuliana serves on the Dunedin Chamber Board of Directors. He says that concerns regarding higher costs are unfounded, and citizens should have the final say.
The city of Dunedin has 25,000 people. All 25,000 would get a ballot … to say if they approve or disapprove of a proposed change in the comprehensive land use plan. Even if only half of them vote, and even if only a majority of seven thousand end up casting votes, I just say this: There is a wisdom in crowds. Seven thousand votes are a lot better than just a majority of five (the city council).
The debate on Florida’s Constitutional Amendment 4 today was organized by the Dunedin Council of Organizations (DOC).
For more information, visit
- Kevin Hing’s blog
- Florida Hometown Democracy Ballotpedia