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Deane and Chris invite you to enjoy some of the natural beauty of Southwest Florida. It takes enormous effort to manage the natural lands of Florida. Efforts like those from 1000 FRIENDS.

1000 Friends of Florida     is a Florida growth management watchdog 
  which has some widely accepted rules for Smarter Growth in Florida.

Visit the 1000 Friends for a really rewarding educational experience


About 1000 Friends of Florida

1000 Friends of Florida is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that was founded in 1986 to serve as Florida's growth management "watchdog." The headquarters is located at 926 East Park Avenue in Tallahassee, Florida.

This award-winning organization maintains an experienced, professional staff to monitor ongoing local, regional and state growth management activities and recommend actions to 1000 Friends' Board of Directors. The staff also coordinates with other public and private organizations involved in growth management issues.

10 Principles for Smarter Growth in Florida

  Adopted by 1000 Friends of Florida's Board of Directors 1999

Established in 1986, 1000 Friends of Florida serves as the nonprofit watchdog over this state's growth management process. Its bipartisan board of directors agrees that Florida's economic vitality and quality of life is dependent on how wisely we plan for growth and development. 1000 Friends supports responsible planning to protect natural areas and historic resources, fight urban sprawl, promote sensible development patterns, and provide affordable housing. Above all, 1000 Friends strives to give citizens the tools to keep Florida's communities livable. As Florida's leaders debate changing the 1985 Growth Management Act, 1000 Friends hopes that the following 10 Principles for Smarter Growth in Florida will play an integral role in the dialog.

1. Better implement the laws that are already on the books. While there is certainly room to refine Florida's Growth Management Act, attention should also be paid to encouraging better implementation of the existing laws. For example, the Florida Department of Community Affairs has approved more than 90 percent of all comprehensive plan amendments ever requested. A comprehensive evaluation of how the growth management act has actually been implemented to date at the state, regional and local levels is in order before we jump to the conclusion that the law itself is irretrievably broken.

2. Maintain reasonable state oversight of local planning. Florida cannot afford to return to the days of 476 local governments individually deciding the collective future of our state. That is what got us into so much trouble in the first place. Additionally, the state should provide the financial and technical resources to local government to do better and more innovative planning, and help with the costs of infrastructure to support quality planning.

3. Thoughtfully evaluate Florida's Growth Management Act to refine and improve it. This state's approach to planning for growth traditionally has been reevaluated every decade or so. It is certainly appropriate to once again evaluate the Act. However, this should be a thoughtful and deliberative process that includes meaningful input from concerned citizens, local governments, development interests, and others who are concerned about Florida's future. 1000 Friends strongly opposes a rushed process dominated by special interest groups. 1000 Friends recommends that the Governor establish a broad-based and representative panel to reach consensus over the coming year on how to further refine Florida's growth management system.

4. Improve the ability of citizens to help enforce their local comprehensive plans. Increased public participation is essential so that accountability at the local level becomes a reality. Current conflicts between residents, developers and local governments are often thrown into lengthy and costly court proceedings. Shift the resolution of land use conflicts from the local circuit court to special administrative law courts. This will offer quicker, more timely and efficient answers to citizen-initiated appeals.

5. Think regionally. Local decisions often have regional implications. We need to pay better attention to those decisions that cross political boundaries such as school siting, annexations, affordable housing, and transportation decisions. We need to help local governments work more cooperatively with neighboring municipal and county governments to develop solutions that promote the common good and protect regional environmental linkages. We need to provide regional planning councils with more authority to compel better intergovernmental coordination. We should also promote better coordination between regional planning councils, water management districts, and regional transportation office. We must ensure that regional offices have the professional expertise needed in all substantive areas, including affordable housing. We should also substantially revise, if not repeal, the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) program in favor of enforceable sector plans, providing affordable housing needs continue to be addressed. Sector planning offers a better approach to design large scale development consistent with local, regional, and state concerns.

6. Take a hard line on sprawl. Sprawling development causes higher taxes, traffic congestion, and disinvestment in established communities. Taxpayers can no longer afford to subsidize or tolerate this expensive and inefficient form of development. We need to develop tighter and more realistic urban service areas for our communities. State infrastructure dollars should be targeted to those communities that contain sprawl, promote redevelopment, and focus growth into existing developed areas. We also need to provide state incentives to local governments that establish land development regulations that encourage walkable, livable communities. We should also explore other means to promote quality community design where children can walk to schools and parks, and people have easier access to work and shopping.

7. Encourage better movement of people and goods, not just cars. Our current transportation planning system heavily favors the needs of the automobile over those of people. Fix transportation concurrency so that it better promotes livable communities. Provide the public with more transportation options. Build new communities and retrofit established communities to provide more pedestrian access and internal connectivity.

8. Establish a statewide rural policy to better help rural communities protect their distinctive lifestyle. The 1999 Legislature established a State Urban Policy. Florida also needs a State Rural Policy that promotes economic vitality and lessens the impacts of sprawl in rural areas, while continuing to respect private property rights. Rural comprehensive plans that allow the same density countywide do not work. They should be revised to make long term protection of agricultural lands feasible.

9. Establish green connectors. With Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever, this state is the national leader in funding for the acquisition of environmentally-sensitive land. However, this acquisition is often undertaken in a piecemeal manner based on what is easily available instead of what is most needed. Florida should better coordinate land acquisition and land use planning. As an example, local governments that adopt comprehensive acquisition plans that provide for significant open space and establish regional connections with neighboring communities should receive less state oversight of their land use decision-making. At the state level, we need to establish a strategic plan that identifies and prioritizes important environmental systems to better target state acquisition of key portions of those systems.

10. Improve the process to evaluate local comprehensive plans. By law, all local land use plans must be updated every seven years. The current process, known as the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR), allows too much ability to weaken and undermine the local comprehensive plan. The process should be modified to ensure that the issues of transportation, land use, environment, economic development, and housing are addressed every time the local plan is updated. Other issue areas should be evaluated at the discretion of the local government.


Six Principles of Unity for Smarter Growth in Florida

Adopted by 28 Concerned Florida Organizations, Spring 2000

Florida is a special place, blessed with a diverse population, distinctive communities and a rich and irreplaceable natural environment. Tens of millions visit our state every year to experience what we are able to enjoy on a daily basis. It is our responsibility to protect and preserve those qualities that make Florida unique, and work to resolve the challenges that face us as we continue to grow as a state.

Collectively, our nonprofit organizations work to protect the quality of life in Florida. We are stewards of the environment, advocates for children and the family, supporters of the spiritual realm, and proponents of robust neighborhoods and well planned communities. We want to pass on to future generations a Florida that is economically vital, environmentally sound, and spiritually enriched. While we represent diverse interests, we are all united in the belief that sound growth management is essential to ensure a better future for our children and theirs.

Florida's population will grow by 5 million people over the next 20 years to a total of 20 million people. We must deal responsibly with this growth, making sure that we are wise stewards of our human and natural resources. We must ensure that there will be clean air to breathe and water to drink, energy to power our cities and cars, protected natural areas, strong neighborhoods, affordable housing, and healthy communities. These are essential to our quality of life and without them, we cannot have a vibrant economy.

We recognize that it is time to begin evaluating and refining Florida's landmark growth management process. However, we are uniformly opposed to a rushed process to rewrite current policies and any process dominated by special interest agendas. We advocate for an open and reasonable approach that allows for thoughtful analysis, constructive dialog and reasonable consensus on these critical issues that will affect each of us on a daily basis.

Furthermore, we agree that any proposal to revise growth management should encompass the following principles:

1. Increase the ability of citizens to help shape the future of their communities. Citizen participation is at the foundation of a true democracy. We must work to strengthen the ability of citizens to have meaningful input into the planning and design of their communities, and to assure that adopted plans are followed. We must also work to increase the role of those citizens traditionally under-represented in the process.

2. Create stronger, healthier communities. Healthy communities provide the foundation for healthy families and individuals. We must do a better job of promoting vital downtowns, strong neighborhoods, and affordable housing. We must pay better attention to how our communities are designed so that more people can walk or bike to schools, shops, and parks. We need to welcome diversity within our own neighborhoods.

3. Reduce the amount of sprawl. Over development destroys our natural environment, decimates our cities, breaks down our sense of community, increases air and water pollution, and wastes taxpayer dollars. Because of sprawling development, we spend untold hours stuck in traffic instead of devoting time to our families and communities. We must stop subsidizing inefficient development that destroys our quality of life and wastes valuable resources.

4. Protect rural areas, green spaces, and natural resources. Reducing sprawl is one tool for better protecting our rural areas, while also protecting the environment. We must continue to be proactive in our efforts to acquire and protect significant green spaces, including wildlife corridors and other natural connectors. We also must tap other tools and techniques to safeguard our precious environmental resources. In addition, we need to develop realistic strategies to save productive farmland and bolster rural economies.

5. Recognize that transportation, land use and water management decisions are interrelated and regional in nature. Our traditional jurisdictional boundaries are obsolete. Poverty knows no boundaries, nor do wildlife, waterways or pollution. We must manage growth and development from a regional perspective, taking into account the many complex interrelationships between transportation, land use and water resource management.

6. Maintain a state presence in managing growth in Florida. It is naive to think we should return to the days when each of Florida's 476 local governments were individually responsible for the future of our state. Growth management was initiated because this approach was a dismal failure. As Florida catapults toward becoming the third largest state in the nation, the state must continue its leadership role in helping to manage and direct growth and development.

THANKS. Christopher Harker



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