Sunday, July 19, 2009

Submitted to WDBOs site for this article:

Florida Hometown Democracy makes 2010 ballot

I'm For It!

Sure, FHD will add a new burden to the development process. But that burden will be, no matter how you want to parse it, a 'burden' of local democracy. People want more value-added for local growth, and this puts incentive on the development community (both gummint planning depts and private sec) to
  1. 'dangle more carrots': offer up projects with aesthetic & other sweetners to appeal to surrounding communities; and
  2. 'devils in the details' get thee behind me: a new burden of making the 'small print' of these major local developments--where boondoggling is best hidden--more transparent and understandable to nonexpert local stakeholders with 'yea or nay' authority.

Part of kneejerk NIMBYism is that people don't at all trust that the local-politics component of the growth machine is geared for empowering ordinary citizens. And that's well-founded mistrust, which is what FHD is all about.

That fear will evaporate with these new political spaces for local democratic participation, fears to be replaced by the burdensome flipside of any new right: a sense of real responsibility to weigh pros and cons for the good of the community, including one's quality of life, long term job prospects, and home values.

Even the most wild-eyed 'no-growther' wants local prosperity...which is to be reminded that 'robust growth' has no NECESSARY link to sprawl. What's exciting about the changes this will make is that it forces developers (and local voters too) to think outside the box.

With that paradigm shift will come new opportunities to succeed and new opportunities to fail. Some will adapt and thrive, and some won't. And being localized, there will over time be lots of chances for all parties to learn from a diverse range of outcomes. The results will show up on balance sheets and local landscapes.


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