Committing Planning Suicide: Economic Competitiveness, Political Wranglings, and the Demise of Growth Management in Twenty First Century Florida

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Risher, John
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In June of 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a piece of legislation, HB7207, that severely curtailed the landmark Growth Management Act of 1985 (GMA), which through a policy combining consistency, concurrency, and compact development, had aimed to ensure the proper balancing of development and growth controls to promote socially responsible growth in the state for years to come (Pittman 2011). With his signature, Gov. Scott rendered toothless a piece of growth management legislation which had pioneered state growth efforts (along with the Oregon Land Use Act of 1973) and served as a model for numerous other states seeking to limit the deleterious environmental and social impacts of urban sprawl and wasteful land consumption and eliminated the agency, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), that oversaw its implementation (Pittman 2011; Ben-Zadok 2005, 2167). While much has been written debating the GMA’s effectiveness in managing growth, its potential impact on housing affordability, and its broader impacts of Florida’s economic competitiveness, at this critical juncture in Florida’s history, it is appropriate to reflect upon the preceding four decades of planning for growth in the state. The act broadly sought to protect agricultural lands, environmentally sensitive lands, and natural areas from the pressures of development, instead directing growth to locations of higher density, thought more suitable to the long-term objectives of the public welfare. An added benefit of these efforts, of course, was the protection of taxpayers from financial strains of sprawling infrastructure.
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