[Image of Florida state house from dms.myflorida.com]
Here in our town, and in our county, the powers-that-be have decided that because things are so bad economically, we should turn our backs on common sense and throw the notion of restriction and/or regulation to the wind.
So, "they" have decided to move on a number of delayed applications and approve another gazillion new homes in an area where the infrastructure is already strained to the breaking point. But these construction projects will bring jobs, they cry! That's always the mantra of the Chamber of Commerce types. Think of all the money they will bring into the community, they cry.
They don't tell you how paving over paradise creates a host of new problems. They don't tell you these projects will create a need for new schools and we can't fund the schools we have now; that increased traffic will increase congestion, and will contribute to more noise and fouling of the air we breathe; that we're running short of water; that houses already on the market aren't selling; that several major developers have gone broke and their half-completed projects sit unfinished and desolate as the topsoil blows away; that we've got tons of foreclosed homes vacant and deteriorating; etc.
The same thing happens up in Tallahassee, where the state legislators sit in session thinking up new ways to help their developer money-pots rake in even more money. And the sinking economy gives them a perfect excuse to bypass common sense and care for the community.
Rob Brinkman, for example, writing in the Suwannee-St. Johns Sierra Club newsletter, says that "This year, in the name of economic stimulus, there is a move to drastically reduce the regulation and permitting of new development on the theory that, if only these weren't holding builders back, everyone would have a job and there would be no foreclosures."
Actually, they don't give a damn about foreclosures. There are 300,000 foreclosures in Florida. Slicing regulatory rules to allow developers to bypass normal criteria for paving over paradise is going to do nothing to mitigate the foreclosure problem.
Or, as Brinkman says, the whole idea is "absurd." Unless, of course, you are a legislator and your first obligation is to those who funded your political campaign and not the people whom you are supposed to represent.
Brinkman also notes there "are also at least two proposals to either gut or simply dispense with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the state agency that reviews comprehensive plan amendments."
And here's another absurdity: It appears that the infamous red tide on some of our beaches in Florida may be due, at least in part, to over-fertilization. Some cities are considering regulating fertilizer application. The poohbahs in Tallahassee, to meet this crisis, are considering restricting the right of local governments to regulate fertilizer application.
And so it goes; on and on. And it is probably going on in your state, too, if your state, like Florida, is controlled by the Repugnicans. Got a problem? Any problem? Too much regulation! Let's cut out all the rules and allow our developer friends to do their thing. That will solve the problem!