CONTROL GROWTH NOW
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dan Lobeck, President
Glenna Blomquist, Vice President
Sharon Guy, Secretary
Tom Price, Treasurer
Where We Stand - The CGN Agenda
Control Growth Now is a nonpartisan civic organization which for over 30 years has advocated for integrity and independe thought in local government and for balancing the influence of developers to responsibly protect our neighborhoods, environment and traffic mobility as well as to protect the taxpayers by making growth pay its own way.
With the Sarasota 2050 Plan gutted, and all of its timing limits lifted, massive urban sprawl is on the horizon. With all of this growth, the challenges are greater than before. The very quality of life that draws people to live, visit and do business here is at risk. Yet the Sarasota County Commission seems committed to abandoning even more controls on developers and actually embracing traffic congestion, all in the name of serving their patrons in the development industry rather than the citizens at large. We are watchful of the following policies and work to protect the public interests in Sarasota County.
The Rules of the Game - Whose Rules?
Any attempt by the development community to change the rules of the game in a way which favors them, such as the repeated efforts to amend the City of Sarasota Charter to elect a “strong Mayor” who can make deals with developers out of the sunshine rather than keeping power in an elected City Commission. New citizen initiatives should be considered to protect sound growth management from attack by development interests, such as perhaps a measure to require that impact fees and other exactions to make growth pay its own way be levied to the maximum extent allowed by law. Another good reform would be the election of County Commissioners in single member districts in order to reduce the biggest corrupting influence, the impact of the big money of development interests in elections.
Traffic and Transportation - Are needs met?
We fight to keep concurrency in place. The Florida Legislature repealed the statewide requirement for what has been called the “linchpin” of growth management (that is, you pull out the linchpin and everything else falls apart). That is the law called transportation “concurrency”. It provided that a development could not be approved if the roads needed to handle its traffic were not adequate concurrent with, that is at the same time as, the impacts of that development. Now, the state law effectively allows cities and counties to do whatever they want in controlling the traffic impacts of development, or not. Locally, County and City of Sarasota staffs are pushing measures to greatly increase the density and intensity of allowable development by measures which include lifting limits on the amount of traffic a developer may add to crowded roads and intersections.
The Costs of Growth - Who pays?
We push for developers to pay their fair share. Growth should be required to pay its own way for the road improvements and other facilities required to serve that new growth, through impact fees calculated to cover the full expense. That expense should not instead be placed on the backs of the taxpaying public, nor should facilities be allowed to become overstressed due to insufficient revenue to expand with the demand. Certainly, with development rebounding, it cannot be argued that reduced or waived impact fees are needed to encourage or “incentivize” development. Increasingly scarce taxpayer dollars should not be used for outright subsidies of developers. Tax revenue, including from taxes on rental of six months or less (the “tourist tax”) should be used only for public, not private purposes, to benefit everyone rather than enrich the privileged few.
Incompatible Development - The Burden of Neighborhoods
We side with neighborhoods threatened by bad development. In addition to allowing increased traffic congestion, local government staff and some other advocates of increased densities and intensities of development have in recent years proposed to weaken current provisions which protect neighborhoods from incompatible development. Those present protections for neighborhood compatibility include setbacks, buffers, limits on traffic cut-throughs, and reductions in development density and intensity for compatibility purposes. Strong neighborhood compatibility standards should be maintained and preserved, developer workshops should be subjected to procedures which ensure fairness and local government staff should be more sensitive to the legitimate concerns of nearby homeowners.
The Environment - We all have a stake.
The County weakened important protections of urban wetlands, allowing developers to destroy them in exchange for “mitigation” elsewhere without recognizing the importance of protecting open, natural spaces as part of the urban landscape.