Miami Dade County Community Forum

Friday, January 15, 2010

Amendment 4? Yes or No? By Fran Bohnsack

Although the 2010 election is still a year away, there’s no doubt that Amendment 4 is the biggest thing on next November’s ballot. Proposed as an antidote to reckless and speculative over-development, Amendment 4 has mobilized Growth Management proponents and catalyzed opposition from Chambers of Commerce and elected officials across the state of Florida.

The question on which the amendment centers is this: Should the public be allowed to ratify a vote on comprehensive plan changes that concern "future land development" since these changes often determine the future of a community for decades to come —in communities where voters reside.

Hometown Democracy argues “Yes,” pointing out that Amendment 4 requires a public vote only after a Commission approves sweeping changes to the location, amount, and type of development currently permitted for a given area. Opponents say “No” to Hometown Democracy, arguing that the citizen vote will be cumbersome and that elected officials already give the voters representation on the changes. Which side has it right? More important, how will you vote on Amendment 4? We hope after this discussion you will form an opinion.

The Uel is hosting a debate, on January 20th, at the Rusty Pelican, between Lesley Blackner Amendment 4 supporter and founder of the group Florida Hometown Democracy and Clifford Schulman, member of Floridians for Smarter Growth.

Please RSVP today at


  1. Unfortunately, the amendment is an example of a good idea gone bad. The amendment is to broad in scope and will (as it has already done in St. Pete Beach, prove counter-productive and costly.

  2. St. Pete Beach is comparing apples to oranges.

  3. This is on the FHD Website about St. Pete:

    21. Q: Has Amendment 4 already been tried in Florida?
    Our opponents constantly harp on the saga of St. Pete Beach. They call it the town that “tried Hometown Democracy and failed.” What happened? The devil is in the details:

    The Hometown Democracy process requires that a referendum on a plan change shall occur only at the END of the state-mandated review and public-hearing process. State law has long held that no land-use change can occur without two public hearings. In St. Pete Beach, however, a developer-backed political action committee wrote up petitions to change the local comprehensive plan. They got the petitions signed and put them on the ballot. The voters passed the petitions. Petition opponents filed suit saying the petitions were misleading and that the petition process violated state law because no public hearings were held. St. Pete Beach clearly did not follow the Hometown Democracy process. Our opponents’ allegations regarding these details are deliberately designed to mislead and trick voters.