FL Court Nixes Ballot-Box Zoning Initiative

Last week in a 4-3 decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the “Hometown Democracy” measure — a proposed Constitutional amendment which would have required voters to approve any changes to city and county growth management plans — cannot be included on the 2006 ballot due to “emotional rhetoric” in its ballot summary. According to the Sun-Sentinel:

“[T]he high court said the ballot summary was fatally flawed because of “impermissible emotional rhetoric that misstates the substance of the amendment.” The court said the problem was in the first sentence: “Public participation in local government comprehensive land use planning benefits the conservation and protection of Florida’s natural resources and scenic beauty, and the long-term quality of life of Floridians.” The court said land-use plans deal with a lot more than “strictly environmental or aesthetic considerations.” The court said those include safety, traffic, sewer service, parks and housing.”

Like the recent Virginia Supreme Court decision striking down parts of Loudoun County’s growth management program, the Florida decision doesn’t really represent a moral victory for those of us opposed to ballot-box zoning, as the decision was essentially based on a technicality. But hey…we’ll take it anyway! If you aren’t familiar with ballot-box zoning, Reason can help shed light on the issue. Check out these pieces: