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Florida Comprehensive Land Use Plans, Amendment 4 (2010)

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Florida Comprehensive Land Use Plans, Amendment 4, also known as "Referenda Required For Adoption And Amendment of Local Government Comprehensive Land Use Plans," was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment to the Florida Constitution where it was defeated.[1]

The initiative proposed requiring a taxpayer-funded referendum for all changes to local government comprehensive land-use plans.[2]

The initiative appeared on the November ballot as "Amendment 4." In order to pass, the amendment needed at least 60% of the total votes.[3] On June 17, 2009 the Florida Supreme Court tossed out a challenge and on June 22nd the Florida Division of Elections certified the amendment.[4]


2011 legislative bill

In 2011 the Florida State Senate proposed a legislative bill, SB 1122. The bill, according to reports, would move the review and regulation of development from the state level to local governments. Additionally, the bill prohibits local communities from requiring a local referendum on changes to comprehensive land-use plans. The proposed ban on local votes, is a direct response to 2010's Amendment 4 which proposed requiring a taxpayer-funded referendum for all changes to local government comprehensive land-use plans.[5]

The full text of the proposed bill can be found here.

Campaign disclosure hearing

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Florida ballot measures

On July 28, 2011 Federal Judge Robert Hinkle heard arguments on a campaign disclosure case related to Amendment 4. Specifically the case will decide whether small groups of citizens that group together to campaign for or against a measure must submit campaign disclosure forms.[6]

Specifically, the case refers to a group of four Sarasota residents that joined in donating and raising funds in favor of Amendment 4. However, according to reports, the group did not believe it was necessary to form a political action committee and submit campaign disclosure forms.[7]

According to state law, any group of two or more people that wants to spend $500 or more on a campaign must file campaign finance reports.[6]

The lawsuit was filed by a group of Sarasota and Charlotte County residents - Andrew Worley, Pat Wayman, John Scolaro and Robin Stublen - and are represented by Paul Sherman, an Institute for Justice attorney.[7]

Sherman argues that the state law for small groups is burdensome. "If they want to speak out on an issue they face a choice -- either speak out as a heavily regulated (political action committee) or not at all. That choice is unconstitutional," he said.[6]

In defending the state, Florida Department of State assistant general counsel Ashley Davis said that it is in the "public’s interest to know who is attempting to influence elections." Additionally, Davis notes that the requirements are minimal and do not impose limitations on the amount of money that can be raised.[6]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Amendment 4 (Comprehensive Land Use Plans)
Defeatedd No3,424,20467.06%
Yes 1,682,177 32.94%

Official results via Florida Division of Elections

Text of measure


Amendment 4's official ballot title is:

Referenda required for adoption and amendment of local government comprehensive land use plans.[8]


The official ballot summary was:

Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions.[9][8]

Financial impact statement

The official Financial Impact Statement was:

The amendment's impact on local government expenditures cannot be estimated precisely. Local governments will incur additional costs due to the requirement to conduct referenda in order to adopt comprehensive plans or amendments thereto. The amount of such costs depends upon the frequency, timing and method of the referenda, and includes the costs of ballot preparation, election administration, and associated expenses. The impact on state government expenditures will be insignificant.[10][8]

Constitutional changes

See also: Florida Amendment 4 (2010), constitutional text changes
Florida Constitution
750px-Flag of Florida.svg.png
Amendment 4 would have amended Section 7 of Article II of the Florida Constitution by adding a new subsection, which can be read here.


At the time of the election county and city commissioners evaluated comprehensive plan amendments after proposed changes were reviewed by the local planning commission and vetted by the public (via public hearings). Plans also received recommendations from local government planning staff, received input from seven state agencies and were approved by Florida's Department of Community Affairs.[11][12][13] According to state records, in fiscal year 2006, there were 6,406 amendments to local comprehensive plans.[14] If passed, Amendment 4 would have required a taxpayer-funded referendum for all such changes.[15][16]

2008 initiative effort

See also: Florida Referendum for Land Use (2008)

Florida Hometown Democracy attempted to qualify a referendum for land use in 2008, however, the petition failed to collect enough signatures by the February 1, 2008 deadline. According to reports, this was due in part to an electronic glitch in the state of Florida's electronic signature tally. As a result of that glitch, supporters of the initiative learned two weeks before the deadline that they were 11,000 signatures short of the requirement, when it was believed that they had sufficient signatures. Supporters filed a lawsuit on June 11, 2008 - Florida Hometown Democracy v. Browning. Initiative efforts were redirected to the 2010 ballot.


The initiative was sponsored and funded by a Political Action Committee (PAC) called Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc. Florida Hometown Democracy was primarily funded by its author and president, Lesley Blackner, a Palm Beach attorney.[17] "Mismanaged growth destroys communities," said Blackner.[2]

Supporters argued that Amendment 4 would have simply added "another layer of protection against unwanted developments." According to the Hometown Democracy website, "Rising taxes, falling home values, gridlocked roads, dwindling water supplies and Florida’s disappearing beauty are just some of the devastating consequences of Florida politicians’ habit of rubberstamping speculative plan changes. Hometown Democracy Amendment 4 changes all that by giving voters veto power over these changes to your community’s master plan for growth."[18]



See also: Florida Amendment 4 (2010), support, arguments
  • Political columnist Ron Littlepage wrote in The Florida Times-Union: "In other words, legislators have pretty much given free rein to developers to continue building; quality of life and the state's natural resources be damned, even though there are currently 300,000 homes in Florida sitting empty." Littlepage noted that "direct democracy on land use changes may be the only way to promote smart growth in Florida."[19]
  • Dan Lobeck, a land use attorney and president of Control Growth Now, said, "Business as usual has led us to ruin, and will lead us to greater ruin if it's not reigned in. Amendment Four is a reasonable, balanced proposal to rein in over-development, but giving the voters a veto over plans that will shape the future of your community, for better or worse."[20]
  • Andrew Dickman, a land use attorney from Naples who represented Hometown Democracy during a March 2010 debate, said, "Amendment 4 will level the playing field and give citizens the opportunity to vote on plans that affect them." Additionally, Dickman argues that since the 1985 adoption of the state's Growth Management Act, "sprawl has not been contained."[21]
  • Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash said, "It's all about what is good for the place we call home" and argued that he doesn't see any harm in the measure.[22]
  • In response to the opposition Lesley Blackner, president of Florida Hometown Democracy, wrote in a March 12 editorial that Amendment 4 would not stop Sarasota County's growth, "but it will help confine growth to where it is now allocated in the county's comprehensive plan. There is enough future commercial and residential development already approved in the comprehensive land-use plan to keep construction workers building for decades. That's what the Sarasota 2050 plan is all about."[23]
  • Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard endorsed Amendment 4 in April 2010 during a Martin County rally.[24]


Vote YES on Amendment 4, 06-09-10

The initiative was supported by a Political Action Committee (PAC) called Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc.[25] According to Florida's Campaign Finance Database as of the last filing report on July 30, 2010 the PAC had received $1,715,221.28 in monetary contributions. (NOTE: Those totals included activity since 2003) In 2010 alone, the PAC was reported to have received $217,894.95 in monetary contributions, $13,555.66 in in-kind contributions and spent $117,011.14.[26]

Below is a chart that outlines the top five major contributions to the "Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc." PAC in 2010:[27]

Contributor Amount
Florida Watch Action, Inc. $90,000
Leslie Blackner $67,500-*
Steven Rosen - Tend Skin Int'l (Skin Care) $30,000
Volusia Flagler Sierra Club $17,500
Floridians for a Sustainable Population $14,450

*-Denotes contributions made with check, not including any in-kind contributions.

Below is a chart that outlines the top five major contributions to the "Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc." PAC since 2003:[28]

Contributor Amount
Lesley Blackner (Lawyer) $828,749
Steven Rosen / Tend Skin Int'l (Skin Care) $635,000
Sierra Club of Florida $186,470
Joe Redner $37,035
Floridians for a Sustainable Population $33,538

Campaign advertising

  • In early September 2010 supporters launched a web ad that featured photos of city and county officials that had been charged in recent years with criminal misconduct. The video ended by saying that Amendment 4 was needed because "our homes and communities are too important to leave in the hands of crooked politicians."[29]


Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy was the main organization that led the effort in opposition to Amendment 4. More than 280 statewide business and labor organizations opposed the proposed measure. Opponents included the Florida Chamber of Commerce (dead link) and the Florida AFL-CIO. These groups said that Amendment 4 would have made Florida’s recession permanent by increasing taxes and contributing to unemployment.[30][31] Mark Wilson, President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce said, "If you like the recession, you’ll love Amendment 4."[32]


Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy executive director, Ryan Houck, called Amendment 4 "a stimulus package for special interest lawyers." Pointing to the interests behind Amendment 4, he went on to say that "Amendment 4 is not designed to empower voters; it's designed to empower special interest lawyers, and hand taxpayers the bill."[33]


See also: Florida Amendment 4 (2010), opposition, arguments
  • In response to the initiative, some Floridians started a campaign, Floridians for Smarter Growth. The group proposed a different take on the currently proposed Smarter Growth Land Use Initiative; to require voter approval of changes to local land-use plans only if 10 percent of local voters signed a petition calling for the referendum.[2] However, the measure failed to collect sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot.
    • Supporters of the alternate measure formed a group called Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy in opposition of Amendment 4. Ryan Houck, former executive director of Floridians for Smarter Growth, served as the executive director of the new group. Houck argued that the proposed measure may have cost the state $4 billion in lost "economic opportunities."[34]
  • The National Federation of Independent Business, Florida opposed Amendment 4, saying that "While November will be a busy election season, no issue on the 2010 ballot will be more important than Amendment 4. In this tough economy, the last thing Florida needs is an irresponsible amendment that will cost jobs, raise taxes and make it more expensive to live in our state."[35]
  • The Coalition for Property Rights (dead link) opposed Amendment 4, arguing that Amendment 4 "represents a direct assault on the foundation of freedom our Founding Fathers created when they drafted the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights."[36]
  • The Florida Farm Bureau opposed Amendment 4, saying that "Florida's jobless rate is high; but it could get much, much worse with the passage of Amendment 4. At a time when many families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, that's the last thing we need."[37]
  • The Florida American Institute of Architects opposed Amendment 4, saying that "Amendment 4 would affect our state's economy and quality of life by requiring every local government comprehensive plan change to be approved by voters. It would result in an average of 200 - 300 plan changes to be approved every year, greatly increasing the cost of local government, place unreasonable and expensive burdens on business and property owners, and limit the ability of our communities to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century."[38]
  • The Florida AFL-CIO joined a business coalition to oppose Amendment 4. Frank Ortis, an executive board member with the Florida AFL-CIO said, "Defeating Amendment 4 means protecting jobs. As Floridians attempt to recover from the worst recession in a generation, Amendment 4 threatens to drive the jobless rate higher, prolong the recession, and hurt our state’s working families."[39]
  • South Pasadena Mayor Kathleen Peters was opposed to the proposed measure. On September 16 said if passed the proposed amendment would have led to litigation and delays in city and county business. "It’s not going to work," she said.[40]


Vote NO on Amendment 4, 08-05-10

The PAC in opposition to Amendment 4 was Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy.[41] According to Florida's Campaign Finance Database as of the last filing report on July 30, 2010 the PAC received $5,990,952.43 in monetary contributions, $32,113.80 in in-kind contributions and spent $524,611.95.[42]

Below is a chart that outlines the top five major cash contributions to the Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy PAC in 2010:[43]

Contributor Amount
Florida Association of Realtors Advocacy (Real Estate) $4,250,000
Pulte Homes Corp. (Home Building) $567,000
Florida Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (Business Community) $565,000
Floridians for Smarter Growth (Non-Profit) $487,269
Lennar Family of Builders (Home Building) $367,000

Campaign advertising

Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy - the campaign to defeat Amendment 4 - launched a web-video series featuring dozens of Florida leaders who were opposed to Amendment 4, including local business owners, citizens groups, elected officials, environmentalists, union leaders and non-profit leaders.[44]

Tactics and strategies

  • On June 9, 2010 business executives gathered for a fundraiser in opposition of Amendment 4. The fundraiser was hosted by the Broward Workshop, a group of business leaders, at the YOLO Restaurant. According to reports, AutoNation executive Mike Jackson and JM Family Enterprises executive Colin Brown each gave about $50,000. The Broward Workshop donated $100,000.[45]
  • On September 30, 2010 Broward business leaders held a protest in opposition of Amendment 4. Speeches were heard from the Broward Alliance, the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and two Broward mayors.[47]

Other perspectives

1,000 Friends of Florida

1,000 Friends of Florida previously announced their opposition to Amendment 4, however, in September 2010 they announced a change of position from opposition to neutral. The group said that although they still believed Amendment 4 had flaws, "we also recognize that the on-the-ground results of the existing growth management system are far from perfect and need major improvement. In the face of this dilemma, we understand how the debate over Amendment 4 may serve as a catalyst for change." The decision to change the group's position was approved unanimously by the board.[48][49]

Previously, in 2007 1,000 Friends of Florida said Amendment 4 "could limit responsible new development in more populated, urbanized areas, forcing development out into rural areas which have fewer people to oppose the proposed plan amendment. It could also limit efforts to pass plan amendments intended to lessen sprawling patterns of development."[50]

In response to the change in position by 1,000 Friends of Florida, opponents said that regardless of the organization's position the concerns raised by the group remained relevant. Supporters spokesperson Wayne Garcia said, "The 1000 Friends of Florida has been at it for a long time and is extremely respected. I'm glad they have weighed the pros and cons and seen fit to withdraw their opposition and let voters decide."[51]

Commercials and videos

"Yes on Amendment 4" videos and commercials:

"No on Amendment 4" videos and commercials:

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Florida ballot measures, 2010


  • The Palm Beach Post was opposed to Amendment 4. In an editorial, the board said, "Its backers argue that only the people can stop bad developers, but the amendment is overkill. It would waste the public's money, penalize developers who weren't trying to game the system and pour sand into Florida's business engine."[52] The board reiterated their opposition on October 1, "It sounds good: With political corruption rampant, put the people in charge of development. But the amendment is overreaching and dangerously vague."[53]
  • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel voiced opposition to Amendment 4. The editorial board said, "Informed voters wouldn't just have to navigate the ballot's pedantic land-use language; they'd have to suffer months of electioneering by those wanting their vote. And because developers would almost always trump grass-roots organizations in spending, they'd stand a good chance of winning anyway."[54]
  • The St. Petersburg Times was opposed to the Hometown Democracy amendment. In an editorial, the board said, "As a three-year experiment in St. Pete Beach shows, land planning via referendum is a messy, unpredictable business that leads to higher government costs due to litigation and a stalemate when it comes to development. Hometown Democracy backers argue that is preferable to the status quo, where developers too easily get their way with local officials. But replacing an imperfect model with one just as flawed — and just as likely to be exploited by well-financed developers — isn't the answer."[55]
  • The Florida Times-Union was opposed to Amendment 4. In an editorial they said, "There has to be a better way...In Jacksonville last year, 67 land use amendments were processed. Can you imagine 67 separate land use changes on a ballot? That is like using a machine gun to kill a flea. It is an extreme reaction to some clear abuses, the overuse of changes in comprehensive plans that have been dominated by insiders, leaving neighbors and the public too much out of the loop... but don't make the solution worse than the problem."[56]
  • The Tampa Tribune voiced opposition to Amendment 4. The editorial board said, "Voters could easily end up unknowingly voting against their own best interests. That’s no way to run a little city, and it’s certainly no way to run a state."[57] The board reiterated their opposition in an October 2 editorial, "Having to vote on every land-use change would slow down economic growth without guaranteeing neighborhoods any real protection from the encroachments they fear most."[58]
  • The Ponte Vedra Recorder was opposed to Amendment 4. In an editorial, the board said, "On the surface it sounds like a good idea. Even the name inspires good feelings. We all have a warm spot in our hearts for our hometown, and democracy — how could that be bad? The answer is it can be bad on several levels, not the least of which is that it will fail to do what its proponents promise."[59]
  • The Panama City News Herald was opposed to Amendment 4. In a 2009 editorial the editorial board said, "The ensuing gridlock could do more than cool off overheated development — it could retard it to the point that the economy suffers. That’s an especially bad risk to take at a time when Florida’s is struggling to emerge from a deep recession."[60]
  • The Orlando Sentinel was opposed to Amendment 4. In a 2009 editorial the editorial board said, "The cost to local governments of including the land-use amendments on ballots would soar into the millions."[61] In a 2010 editorial, the board said, "Floridians shouldn't fall for costly, unwieldy, unneeded Hometown Democracy. Vote no on Amendment4."[62]
  • The Gainesville Sun was opposed to Amendment 4. In a 2010 editorial the editorial board said, "Amendment 4 is a well meaning, but ultimately flawed, proposal that voters should reject."[63]
  • The Bradenton Herald opposed the proposed measure. The editorial board said, "This backlash to Florida’s checkered history on growth management swings the pendulum too far. The threat to the state’s economy and recovery is too great. We recommend a no vote on Amendment 4."[64]
  • The Pensacola News Journal opposed Amendment 4. In an editorial, the board said, "While opponents have gone overboard in painting horror stories of what might happen, we agree that this is exactly the sort of thing representative government is supposed to handle. We elect officials to make these decisions."[65]
  • The Northwest Daily News was opposed to the proposed measure. "It would kill growth by killing development. And by killing development, it would kill jobs. If there’s one thing Florida doesn’t need as it tries to climb out of a deep, ugly recession, it’s a constitutional mandate that will strangle development and jobs," said the editorial board.[66]
  • The Daytona Beach News-Journal was opposed to Amendment 4. "Florida's current growth-management system is by no means perfect, but it's far superior to the uncertainty and confusion of "direct democracy." That uncertainty and confusion would discourage investment and make the state's road to the economic recovery even longer. Vote "no" on Amendment 4," said the editorial board.[67]
  • The (Panama City) News Herald was opposed to Amendment 4. "Amendment 4 isn’t just bad policy that would be enshrined in the state constitution (and thus difficult to reverse). It would undermine our representative democracy. The public elects city and county commissioners to study land-use plans, working with professional staff to understand the pros and cons of proposals and make a decision. The public already has input on these discussions...The public doesn’t need additional power to effect growth. It just needs to exercise the one it already has. Vote "no" on Amendment 4," said the editorial board.[68][69]
  • The Orlando Sentinel was opposed. "It's a loopy idea on several levels. How many voters are going to plow through stacks and stacks of documents to determine if a change really has merit? Instead, both backers and opponents of plan changes will mount obnoxious and misleading political campaigns. If you think voting on constitutional amendments is confusing, just wait until you see what's in store if this one passes," said the editorial board.[70]
  • Florida Today said, "What needs to happen is for lawmakers from both parties to work together with developers and smart growth advocates to find reasonable ways to streamline duplicative regulations, while maintaining safeguards to control development. Voters tempted to approve Hometown Democracy as retaliation for failed past policies on growth should resist and do this instead: Demand lawmakers enact sensible growth management rules that protect Florida and its citizens from developers’ greed gone wild and vote those who won’t out of office."[71]
  • The Naples Daily News said, "This amendment would subject major projects, and even some modest projects, calling for comprehensive plan changes to referendums in cities and counties rather than votes of city councils and county commissions. The timing is awkward. There is little development to police these days."[72]
  • Creative Loafing's Irreverent View said, "Irreverent View strongly recommends a “No” vote on Amendment 4. This draconian measure to control development would severely cripple the state’s economy if passed. Note to developers: get your act together if you want to avoid more ridiculous proposals like Amendment 4."[73]
  • The Ledger said, "While we empathize with proponents of Amendment 4, we recognize that proposal is impractical and that the voters - theoretically, at least - hold the solution through the election process. The Ledger recommends a No vote on Amendment 4."[74]


See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • A May 3-5 poll conducted by the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. revealed that of the 625 polled registered voters in Florida 61% supported the proposed amendment, while 18% were opposed and 21% remained undecided. According to Mason-Dixon the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.[78]
  • A September 20-22 poll conducted by the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. revealed that of the 625 polled registered voters 53% supported Amendment 4, while 26% were opposed and 21% were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.[79][80][81]
  • A September 27-29 TCPalm/Zogby poll revealed that of the 802 polled registered voters 48.8% supported the proposed measure, while 27.8% were opposed and 23.4% were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.[82]
  • An October 15-19, 2010 poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll 33% supported Amendment 4, while 36% were opposed and 32% were undecided. The poll surveyed 577 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.[83][84]
  • An October 18-21 Naples Daily News/Zogby poll revealed that of the 600 polled voters 37.7% supported Amendment 4, while 41.8% were opposed and 20.5% were undecided.[85]

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
Feb. 5-17, 2010 The Nielsen Company 51% 43% 6% 1,282
May 3-5, 2010 Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. 61% 18% 21% 625
Sept. 20-22, 2010 Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. 53% 26% 21% 625
Sept. 27-29, 2010 Zogby poll 48.8% 27.8% 23.4% 802
Oct. 15-19, 2010 Ipsos Public Affairs 33% 36% 32% 577
Oct. 18-21, 2010 Zogby poll 37.7% 41.8% 20.5% 600

Campaign Finance Law complaints

The Florida Elections Commission received two election complaints against Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc. for a series of possible campaign finance law violations. Both complaints were filed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and in total cited more than 115 separate violations of campaign finance law. Potential fines for such violations amounted to an estimated $120,000.[86]


Controversial email

Amendment 4 author and president Lesley Blackner was called upon to apologize for racially-insensitive remarks made in a public email. The flare-up was widely reported in the press. According to news reports, in a May 13 email to the director of the Volusia Council of Government, Blackner wrote, "I’m only too aware of your step & fetch it for the Chamber of Commerce crowd opposing Amendment 4." Soon after, Amendment 4 opponent and former South Bay Mayor Clarence Anthony called Blackner out on her use of the phrase "step & fetch." Blackner promptly apologized. "I’ve used the phrase for years and had no idea anybody thought it had any racial overtones. If Mr. Anthony is offended, I’m sorry...I tell you what, I won’t use that term any more," she said.[87]

Others, however, argued that Mary Swiderski, executive director of the Volusia Council of Governments, made matters worse when she forwarded the entire email to approximately 300 people. The forwarded portion, some argued, should not have been included in the intro written by Blackner. The controversial phrase appeared in the introduction. The intro read: "Please send the following to your entire list. I'll know if it happens. I'm only too aware of your step and fetch it for the Chamber of Commerce crowd opposing Amendment 4." Instead, what should have been included in the forwarded email, according to arguments, should have only been the text listed below the introduction.[88]

The controversial phrase was usually associated with a stage name used by black actor Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry when he portrayed "shuffling, mumbling, servile movie characters in the 1930s and ’40s."[87]

Reports and analyses

Washington Economics Group study

The Washington Economics Group conducted an economic impact study on Amendment 4. The study was funded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, a financial contributor to the Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, opponents of the proposed measure. The study was released on January 26, 2010.[89][90]

According to the study, the proposed amendment, if approved by voters, would have resulted in job losses and higher taxes in the state of Florida. "An estimated 267,247 high-wage jobs for Florida residents are at risk directly or indirectly from the potential adverse impacts associated with the passage of Amendment 4 in the Most Likely Scenario. In this scenario, real estate development and other capital projects-phase activities are directly responsible for endangering 125,616 jobs in the Construction, Knowledge-Based Services, retail and related support industrial sectors," reported the study. In addition to the possible job losses, the study reported that labor income could fall $4.7-$11.8 billion; the state's gross domestic product could decline $6.5-$16.4 billion; and federal, state and local tax revenues could drop $1.6-$4.1 billion. In total, the study estimated an economic impact of $13.9-$34.7 billion.[91]

Response by UCF professors

Dr. Mark Soskin and Dr. Bradley Braun, economics professors at the University of Central Florida, reviewed the study released by the Washington Economics Group and concluded that the projected impacts were not valid. "We definitively conclude without reservation that none of the WEG Report impact forecasts contain any useful information, and their findings should be entirely disregarded as irredeemably flawed," they said. In their review, both professors found that the study's conclusion about job losses lacked concrete evidence connecting Amendment 4 with the job losses. In conclusion, Soskin and Braun said that the report "lacks the quantitative data required to generate any impact estimates. The direct impact data is invented in a classic “garbage in, garbage-out” exercise of pseudo-science.[92]

Response by Nassau Analysis Group

In March 2010, following the release of the Washington Economics Group report, the Nassau Analysis Group, a non-profit organization, evaluated the report to determine its accuracy. According to Nassau's review the study used a methodology called the IMPLAN Model, a reportedly common and widely accepted method that allows for calculations of "inter-industry linkages." However, Nassau pointed out that WEG failed to provide the assumptions regarding time frame and development expectations that were used in the study. For example, it was not clear if data was used pre-recession, in 2007, and what steps, if any, were taken to accommodate those economic factors. According to the group, "Once the matter of assumptions is questioned the entire analysis falls apart."[93]

Rebuttal to Nassau Analysis Group

Following a report by The Nassau Analysis Group which reportedly criticized the assumptions made in WEG's study, the Washington Economics Group issued a response that said, "The Nassau Analysis Group criticizes the assumptions made in WEG’s scenarios of possible impacts of Amendment 4. These assumptions were extensively researched by WEG’s experienced and senior economics team over a period of months." Additionally, the organization detailed the assumptions used in their study: they examined the negative economic development experience in St. Pete Beach; they analyzed the language in Amendment 4 and looked at the costs to local entities (lawsuits and lost job creation); reviewed public testimony to the Florida Legislature of economic experts concerning possible negative impacts of the same amendment a few years earlier.[94]

Dr. Henry Fishkind review

Dr. Henry Fishkind, a Florida economist, argued in a radio interview that Amendment 4 would have inundated voters with thousands of pages of technical planning data and promoted greater politicization of the planning process. Additionally, Fishkind went on to refute a pro-Amendment 4 argument that comprehensive land use planning allowed for additional growth and development to be easily amended. Fishkind said they were not, on the contrary, he argued that they were difficult to amend and needed to be updated all the time. Fishkind argued that setting limitations on amending such plans could have been problematic.[95] The full radio interview can be heard here.

Florida TaxWatch report

In October 2010 Florida TaxWatch released a report that concluded that Amendment 4 would have led to hundreds, even thousands of extra elections. Those elections, they estimated, would have cost $44.6 million to $83.4 million statewide. Florida TaxWatch is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.[96][97] The organization also concluded that if implemented statewide, "litigation resulting from the elections required under Amendment 4 could result in legal costs to local governments of more than $1 billion annually – or more than $135 per Florida household annually."[98]

The full briefing report can be read here.

Winter Park Commissioner Beth Dillaha, a supporter of Amendment 4, argued that the released report was flawed and used inaccurate information. Specifically, Dillaha argued that special elections would not be used for approved amendments. Amendments would simply be placed on a regularly scheduled ballot. Dillaha also argued that there would be no litigation costs "because voters would have the legal right to approve or veto council-approved developments that do not adhere to growth management plans."[99]

Test cases

St. Pete Beach

In 2006, the Florida town of St. Pete Beach adopted a local version of Amendment 4.[100][101]

Former St. Pete Beach Mayor, Ward Friszolowski, explained:

{{Quote|Since the measure was passed, the residents of St. Pete Beach have endured endless lawsuits and seen little progress...In St. Pete Beach, any proposed change to our town's comprehensive plan is thrust onto the ballot. Public planning has been replaced with political infighting and a parade of unintended consequences has ensued. I can only begin to imagine the kind of chaos Amendment 4 would cause if it were ever forced onto every community in Florida. After adopting a local version of Amendment 4, it wasn't long before we realized that 600-page comprehensive plans couldn't easily be condensed into 75-word ballot questions. The elections are confusing, chaotic and expensive.[102]</blockquote>

Kevin Hing, the Chairman of St. Pete Beach's Beach Stewardship Committee and a local attorney launched a blog entitled St. Pete Beach and Amendment 4 dedicated to disecting the nuances of his town's experiment in Amendment 4. Hing wrote that, "St. Pete Beach is unique in one respect: when we finally realized how overbroad, costly and unworkable our Hometown Democracy-style system was, we repealed it by an overwhelming majority vote of the people. Unfortunately, if Amendment 4 passes, it will be virtually impossible to repeal. Unlike the people of St. Pete Beach, the people of Florida will not be able to fix their mistake."[103]


Some cities in Florida had already implemented local versions of the proposed Amendment 4. In Yankeetown in Levy County a charter amendment was passed in 2007. Through the implementation of the localized version of Amendment 4, Yankeetown was required to hold a referendum on all changes to the local comprehensive plan. The town consisted of roughly 700 residents. Yankeetown City Councilmember Larry Feldhusen said, "In our community, developers wanted to build out Yankeetown in a way that did not fit with our community’s vision. Passing our local version of Hometown Democracy has given voters the opportunity to approve or veto proposed changes. On issues that are directly affecting our homes and the future of our cities, people ought to have that vote." Former Councilmember Ed Candela said, "I started the Charter Amendment Campaign in Yankeetown because I was talking with voters who felt strongly about the development of their communities and who were being ignored by elected officials. Voters should have a say in matters that greatly affect them - which is why we organized to pass the Charter Amendment in Yankeetown in 2007."[104]

But according to Carl Mazzuca and other residents of Yankeetown, "We have first hand experience with this radical, very unconstitutional idea and their crazed drive to destroy representative government. Yankeetown is under the dark cloud of Hometown Democracy and we can and will tell the story from our simple county perspective."[105]

According to reports, in 2007 Yankeetown faced several lawsuits from developers and spent a reported $23,000 in fees. The city's operating budget was estimated at $1 million.[106]

On February 23, 2010 residents voted on referenda that proposed eliminating the referendum requirements for capital improvements. According to Yankeetown election results, 81 voted yes, while 77 voted no.

In what "Vote No on 4" called "Rapid Response Videos," Ryan Houck, executive director of the campaign, said, "If [Amendment 4] is too extreme for a town of 700 residents, and we know it didn't work and created an economic nightmare in a town of 10,000 people - St. Pete Beach - then what it will mean to Florida, a state of 18 million people?"[107]

Path to the ballot

See also: Florida signature requirements and 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

Amendment 4's path to the November 2, 2010 ballot was a roller coaster ride with several stops in courtrooms along the way. Initiative supporters in Florida had four years to collect signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot. Supporters of the Hometown Democracy Initiative began their effort on June 22, 2005. Before the effort was complete, Florida Hometown Democracy spent more than $1 million hiring paid petition gathers to collect enough signatures to reach the ballot. "[108]

  • The Florida State Legislature enacted a law in 2007 allowing residents to revoke their signatures, and opponents began a campaign urging people to remove their signatures. Approximately 13,280 revocation requests were submitted.
  • The initiative needed 676,811 valid signatures. As of June 8, 2009, supporters collected 691,896 signatures. However, if signatures were revoked, the petition would have been 150 signatures short of the valid signature requirement.

2007 signature law challenged

See also: Florida Hometown Democracy v. Browning
  • Florida Hometown Democracy president Lesley Blackner and co-author of the petition, Ross Burnaman, sued to overturn the 2007 signature revocation law, and in June 2009 it became clear that they would need to win their lawsuit in order to qualify the measure for the 2010 ballot.[11]
  • The Florida Court of Appeals struck down the legislation allowing signature revocation on April 23, 2008.
  • The state appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court heard the case, Florida Hometown Democracy v Browning, on January 8, 2009.[109]
  • As of June 8, 2009 supporters collected 691,896 signatures. In order to add the question to the 2010 state ballot 676,811 verified signatures were required to be collected, according to state signature requirements.
  • If the Florida Supreme Court had not issued its decision before June 22, 2009, there was a concern that supporters could have lost their signatures. Ross Burnaman, an attorney for Hometown Democracy, said: "In effect, this court's failure to expeditiously decide this case has the unintended consequence of diminishing a fundamental constitutional right."[110]

Florida judges strike signature law

The state's high court issued its decision on June 17, 2009 that the 2007 signature revocation law was unconstitutional, after a 4-2 vote.[111] According to the judges' 66-page opinion, laws relating to the constitutional right of Floridians to revise the state constitution must be neutral. However, the 2007 legislatively-approved law favored opponents to constitutional changes. In the opinion, they wrote,"The politically charged counter-petition revocation campaigns created by these provisions in operation would essentially eviscerate and render meaningless the citizen-initiative process," the justices wrote in the unsigned plurality decision."[112][113]

See also

Suggest a link

Related measures

Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Florida Referendum for Land Use (2008)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Florida Smarter Growth Land Use Initiative (2010)


External links

Text and content



Additional reading



  1. Triple Pundit, "Florida Voters Reject Land Use Planning Amendment," November 19, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Financial Impact Estimating Conference, "Official Financial Information Statement"
  3. Examiner,'Ballot initiative: Florida voters to decide Constitutional Amendment on building and development," May 14, 2010
  4. The West Volusia Beacon, "Hometown Democracy referendum makes the ballot," June 26, 2009
  5. St. Petersburg Times, "Florida Senate moves to put local governments, not state, in charge of growth management," April 15, 2011
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Sunshine State News, "Federal Court Hears Arguments in Ballot Campaign Disclosure Case," July 28, 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Miami Herald, "Suit targets campaign disclosure requirements for issue groups," July 27, 2011 (dead link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  9. Florida Hometown Democracy FAQ
  10. Financial Impact Estimating Conference (dead link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Palm Beach Post, "Anti-development 'Hometown Democracy' amendment has enough signatures for 2010 ballot, supporters say," June 8,2009
  12. NPR, "Florida Land Use Changes Could Be In Voters' Hands," May 31, 2010
  13. Florida Department of Community Affairs, "Growth Management and Comprehensive Planning"
  14. Florida Department of Community Affairs, "Florida Department of Community Affairs Sunset Review," Page 72
  15. The Tampa Tribune, "2010 referendum on growth management developing," June 6,2009
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  17. St. Petersburg Times, "Lesley Blackner Staying Put," February 25, 2008
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  22. Bradenton, "Biz group urged to fight against Amendment 4," March 11, 2010
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  53. The Palm Beach Post, "Endorsement: No on Amendment 4: Reject Hometown Democracy," October 1, 2010
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  58. The Tampa Tribune, "A power you should not want," October 2, 2010 (dead link)
  59. Ponte Vedra Recorder, "Our take: A recipe for bad government," February 25, 2010 (dead link)
  60. The Panama City News Herald, "Planning nightmare," November 29, 2009
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  63. Gainesville Sun, "Growth by acclaim," July 23, 2010
  64. Bradenton Herald, "We recommend: on Amendment 4, a no vote BRADENTON HERALD EDITORIAL | Comp plan votes not answer to growth management," September 29, 2010
  65. Pensacola News Journal, "Editorial Board recommendations: The Amendments," October 9, 2010
  66. The Daily News, "EDITORIAL: Amendment review: No on No. 4," October 8, 2010 (dead link)
  67. The Daytona Beach News-Journal, "Amendment 4 would result in chaos," October 17, 2010
  68. The News Herald, "EDITORIAL: No on Amendment 4," October 17, 2010
  69. News Herald, "EDITORIAL: Assessing amendments," October 24, 2010
  70. Orlando Sentinel, "Our Endorsements: Amendments made simple," October 23, 2010
  71. Florida Today, "Our views: Vote 'no' on flawed Amendment 4 (Oct. 3)," October 3, 2010
  72. Naples Daily News, "Editorial: Election 2010 | Florida Ballot Amendments 1, 2 & 4," October 13, 2010
  73. Creative Loafing, "Irreverent View’s ballot recommendations," October 1, 2010
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  78. SaintPetersblog 2.0, "Going inside the Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll numbers on Florida’s cabinet races and constitutional amendments," May 13, 2010 (dead link)
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  80. WESH, "Poll: Voters Want Control Over State's Growth," September 24, 2010 (dead link)
  81. Highlands Today, "Voters fluctuate on ballot initiative," September 27, 2010 (dead link)
  82., " poll shows Amendment 4 still needs to make up ground to pass," October 7, 2010
  83. Ipsos Public Affairs, "Political Polling in Florida: Wave 3," accessed November 1, 2010
  84. Miami Herald, "Key amendments unlikely to pass, new poll indicates," October 25, 2010
  85. The Naples daily News, "Naples Daily News/Zogby Poll: Hometown Democracy amendment loses ground," October 25, 2010
  86. The Florida Times-Union, "Florida Chamber files complaint against Hometown Democracy," July 22, 2010
  87. 87.0 87.1 The Palm Beach Post, "Hometown Democracy leader says she's sorry for 'step & fetch it' email," June 7, 2010
  88. News-Journal, "Who intended to offend?," June 19, 2010
  89. The Washington Economics Group, "Statewide Press Conference Highlights WEG Study," January 26, 2010
  90. Orlando Sentinel, "Business lobby study: Hometown Democracy will cost Florida mega-jobs," January 26, 2010
  91. The South Florida Business Journal, "Study: Amendment 4 passage to cut jobs," January 27, 2010
  92. Florida Hometown Democracy, "Professor of Economics at the University of Central Florida and Chair ofthe College of Business’ Master's Program Rebuts Our Opponents’ FalseClaims About Amendment 4’s Economic Impact," accessed August 20, 2010
  93. Nassau Analysis Group, "Review of WEG study," March 22, 2010
  94. The Washington Economics Group, "Response to UCF Professors," April 1, 2010
  95. Hank Fishkind June 30 -- Revisiting Hometown Democracy," June 30, 2010 (dead link)
  96. Florida TaxWatch, "In Addition to Devastating Impacts on the Economy and Jobs, Amendment 4 Will Increase Costs to Taxpayers through Added Elections and Increased Litigation Against Local Governments," October 2010
  97. South Florida Business Journal, "Florida TaxWatch: Amendment 4 costly," October 6, 2010
  98. Florida TaxWatch Briefing Reveals Potential Costs of Amendment 4 to Taxpayers," October 5, 2010
  99. Orlando Business Journal, "Report puts Amendment 4 pricetag at $1B," October 7, 2010
  100. The St. Petersburg Times, "A Formula for Gridlock," June 28, 2009
  101. South Florida Business Journal, "St. Pete Beach remains ground zero in battle over Amendment 4," September 13, 2010
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  103. St. Pete Beach and Amendment 4 (blog),"Kevin's Guide to Amendment 4," accessed August 18, 2010
  104. Florida Hometown Democracy, "Hometown Democracy Success in Yankeetown Earns 'Citizen Planning Initiative' Award," July 14, 2010
  105. The Truth About Yankeetown Hometown Democracy
  106. St. Petersburg Times, "When developers and local officials get cozy, residents take control," December 25, 2007
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