Monday, August 17, 2009

Why We Need Florida Hometown Democracy’s Amendment 4

In his book "Better Not Bigger," Eben Fodor cites study after study showing how growth raises taxes.

There are dozens of these studies. They all come to the same conclusion. New developments reach into the pockets of established residents to finance additional schools and services, and the traffic and pollution they generate reduce nearby property values.

Given all the evidence to the contrary, it's amazing how many still believe the myth that growth reduces taxes. But then, every myth springs from a seed of truth. Municipal growth does benefit some people.

Real estate agents get sales,

Construction companies get jobs,

Banks get more depositors and borrowers,

Stores get more business (though they also get more competition).

Landowners who sell to developers can make big money;

Developers can make even bigger money.

Fodor quotes Oregon environmentalist Andy Kerr, who calls urban growth, "a pyramid scheme in which a relatively few make a killing, some others make a living, but most [of us] pay for it."

As long as there is a killing to be made, no environmentally concerned tree huggers are going to stop over development.

The developers make the money. They're playing the game according to the rules, which rewards whoever is clever enough to put any cost of doing business they can onto someone else.

They get the profits,

We build the roads.

They hire the workers (paying as little as they can get away with,

We sit in traffic jams and breathe the exhaust.

They get jobs building the subdivision,

We lose open lands, clean water, and wildlife.

Then we subsidize them with our taxes.

Do not believe the myth that all growth is good. Ask hard questions. Who will benefit and who will pay?

How much growth can our roads, our land, our waters and air, our neighborhoods, schools and community support?

Recently the Governor signed into law a bill that eliminates the need for developers to pay for roads in their projects. If you ask yourself why, the only answer possible is - he is looking for campaign money from developers.

Shame on our city officials for allowing this, but, sadly, local legislatures are controlled by political contributions from the growth machine, because ordinary residents don’t have the time or financial resources to spend years, time after time, addressing the same applications for ill-advised development, we have a fiasco whose results are indelibly etched in the built-out landscape of Florida.Because growth does not pay its own way, cities wind up with unfunded infrastructure needs, something that elected officials won’t talk about and newspapers don’t print.But every day Florida residents experience infrastructure problems through gummed-up roadways, classrooms for children in air-conditioned trailers, unkempt and inadequate parks and playing fields, pollution, degraded wetlands and a declining quality of life.This isn’t a “gloomy point of view”. This is reality.

From: :“…The proposed (Miami Dade) County Budget is dismal, but the news is yet worse: there are some $20 billion in unfunded infrastructure deficits: a fact that mocks claims by developers and the Growth Machine that the rabid, speculative fever during the housing boom benefited taxpayers. We now get to see the true nature of their Ponzi schemes.Growth does not pay its own way: what lead to this point in time is nothing less than disaster capitalism in practice. I predict a severe backlash against the unreformable majority of the county commission for 2010 elections. But that too may be wishful thinking: all around us perpetrators of economic fraud are being rewarded. None are being held accountable.”

The building and development industry--its greed and excesses, coupled with go along tactics by state and local officials contributed greatly to the housing bubble and the disaster the bubble's burst has imposed on Florida taxpayers.

Over development costs us more than lost green space and nightmarish daily commutes. It costs us dollars. That’s dollars straight out of our pockets, in the form of higher local taxes. Municipal growth consistently costs more in public services than it pays in taxes.

Who is objecting to the Florida Hometown Democracy’s Amendment 4? The very people who, in a fiscally irresponsible frenzy of overdevelopment, brought you the current recession.
The reasons to support Florida Hometown Democracy are all around us: the highest foreclosure rates in history, housing inventories so saturated that it will take years to absorb, degraded wetlands and public corruption.

Lesley Blackner, an attorney, president of Florida Hometown Democracy, the Amendment 4 sponsor says, “The first thing I suggest you do when you read a letter, column or blog in opposition to Amendment 4 is to Google the name of the author. Chances are, the author makes his living off sprawl or works in government (which is often the same thing.) The "say-anything campaign" is desperate to preserve a rotten status quo. Immunize yourself now.”

1 comment:

  1. As a low-income renter with no hope of buying a home, I believe I literally need all the housing the private sector is able and willing to build, and therefore I believe I need growth.

    To put it in terms every conservative should appreciate (but many do not), I believe the supply of housing should be up to the private sector and not to government.

    To those conserned about potentially higher taxes, I note that I and my landlord are subsidizing Florida homeowners who enjoy a homestead exemption and the lower taxes that brings.