Debate Around Hometown Democracy Heats Up

Tallahassee, FL – The Hometown Democracy amendment would require a referendum by voters before a
county change its comprehensive plan. Supporters say it is to easy to amend the long-range planning document. But opponents argue it is not practical to hold referendums for every land use change. To prove their point they printed up what they said last year's
Orange City Ballot would have looked liked if Hometown was law. Three columns of
land use proposals spread across 45 pages.

Wayne Bertsch is with Civility Management, a campaign consultant group and he's
past director of political affairs of the Florida Home Builders Association.
Development interests are fighting the Hometown democracy initiative.

The 1985 Growth Management Act requires all local governments to adopt a
comprehensive plan to guide growth and development. At the time policy makers thought it would encourage smarth growth and discourage urban sprawl. Now, its supporters say it is to easy to amend the plan. That's why they want to require any amendment to be approved by a referendum. Linda Young, is a a Hometown Democracy supporter

Young attended a media event sponsored by Hometown opponents. A group called
Floridians for Smarter Growth rented a room and put on display the 45 page ballot would
be required by Hometown rules. When she told a reporter, that the comic book length
ballot is proof positive that its too easy to change comprehensive plans, she elicited a challenge from Michael Caputo, of Floridians for smarter growth.

At first the rhetorical mugging appeared to be the typical Florida argument about growth. But the more the two advocates exchanged charges and disputed numbers they revealed a more nuanced disagreement about self government and civil obligations.

Hometown democracy is a little over halfway to collecting the six hundred eleven
thousand signatures it needs to place the proposal on next November's ballot. Supporters face a February first deadline. If they cross that threshold expect more media events featuring newspaper size ballots and hallway debates about what Jefferson really meant.