by Danielle Alexandre
What Are Regional Planning Councils?
In the 1960’s Florida’s 67 counties were divided into 11 regions and Regional Planning Councils were created. The original purpose was to apply for and distribute federal funds to help with building roads and bridges between the counties in the region. Unfortunately, the 11 Florida Regional Planning Councils have become a de facto agency of the federal government to promote “Smart Growth” and “Sustainable Living” at the expense of local control of land use decisions and private property rights. Regional Planning Councils receive funding from the federal government to bypass our local and state representatives. Counties are required by statute to participate in membership in these Regional Planning Councils and pay large membership dues with your tax dollars.
Do We Need a 4th Level of Government?
These regional special districts and councils comprise a fourth layer of government between the local city /county and the state government. This new layer of government diminishes the local control and authority of city and county governments for self-government through “home rule” as provided for in the Florida Constitution. The whole point of local control and self-governance is that local elected representatives can be held accountable by the voter-Taxpayer.
Are “one-size-fits-all” Growth Management Plans Good For All Counties?
“Smart Growth” (such as 7/50 in south Florida) strip away our property rights, by pushing us into higher density urban centers, forcing us to give up our cars, use bikes, transit or walk to work and shop.High density urban centers may be a sound plan for some counties but it would not be warranted in some of Florida’s more rural counties. Regional boards may directly overrule local official’s authority, or partner with groups like transportation authorities to sway officials to vote their way using their control of millions of dollars. In situations like these, local officials surrender much of their authority and community members find themselves with no place to go for representation.
What is Happening this Session
We reported last week that Senator Wilton Simpson (R-New Port Richey) had filed SB 484 to eliminate Regional Planning Councils and now we are excited to report that Representative Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach) has filed the House companion bill HB 873.
Now that we have definitive bills filed, the tough work begins to pass this critical legislation. We need to call and e-mail both Senator Simpson and Representative Mayfield and thank them for filing the legislation and let them know we will be supporting their fight.