Goodbye Everglades, Hello Everglades Apartments

By | May 23rd, 2011 | 6 Comments

In today’s Herald, Andres Viglucci provides grim analysis of what will happen to South Florida if — when — Governor Rick Scott signs measures that would mortally wound the department in charge of keeping suburban sprawl from gobbling up the Everglades. An excerpt:

Measures approved by the Florida Legislature with little scrutiny or debate in the waning moments of this year’s session would dismantle the state oversight that has acted as the principal brake on repeated efforts by the county commission to breach the line for new development.

The measures, almost sure to be signed by business-friendly Gov. Rick Scott, would significantly water down the state’s 25-year-old growth-management system, giving counties and municipalities far greater freedom to amend the local comprehensive development plans that are meant to control suburban sprawl.

“In time,” Viglucci continues, opponents of the measure fear “Miami-Dade will look like Broward County — fully paved from the Atlantic Ocean to the Everglades dike, with no remaining agricultural land.”

In blatant disregard of Florida’s millions of vacant dwellings and hundreds of millions of unused commercial square footage, Gov. Scott will likely approve the measures in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs. The ramifications are ominous for the fragile Everglades, itself the unsung and underutilized economic engine of the Sunshine State. (A recent study suggests restoring the national park could net Florida more than $100 billion.)

Indeed, there is a lot at stake in a battle that already seems to be lost. As Viglucci writes at the end of the article, “Former Democratic Florida governor and U.S. senator Bob Graham, in a joint letter with Nathaniel Pryor Reed, a Republican who served as assistant Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Nixon and Ford, called on Scott to veto the measures, calling them a ‘massive assault’ on 30 years of mostly effective growth management, and a potentially pivotal moment in state history.”

Pivotal, yes, but turning the wrong way.


Read Viglucci’s article in full on

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A Moonlight Ride down Shark Valley in the Everglades

By | November 22nd, 2010 | 6 Comments
Full Moon Everglades Bike Ride

It was a calming and eerie moonlight ride down Shark Valley in the Everglades.

The sun had set, and a full moon hid behind clouds arranged in the cracked pattern of dry desert lakebed. With a single light to show the way, we three entered the rank maw of the Everglades, the paved miles of Shark Valley vanishing into the blackness before us. We feared alligators, but mosquitoes were the true threat. Within minutes, they lit upon our ankles with insatiable bloodlust. We pedaled faster, the cool tailwind soothing our wounds. Now and again the moon would peak through the clouds, a cell of brightness in the purple sky. Beneath it Miami glowed faintly orange in the distant east.

We rode alongside a still river. There were deadly things in there. There were things in there whose genetic makeup hadn’t changed for thousands of years. The fact that life might spring from that primordial soup seemed intuitive: it would seem the purpose of life to free oneself from such a habitat.

A swarm of red breaklights bobbed in the darkness in front of us. Behind us a constellation of white headlights framed the night. The landscape was peaceful and eerie. Despite the nearby Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, despite the strength of cellphone signal, despite the hundred-foot-tall fluorescent restaurant sign that refused to recede — it felt out “there” all the same. So still you imagined signs of movement. What was that?

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Op-ed contributor Blackner: Save Environment, Vote Yes on 4

By | October 27th, 2010 | 7 Comments
Lesley Blackner

A4 activist Lesley Blackner says she's fighting to give voters control of their own communities. -- photo by Eileen Escarda

If you’ve turned on a radio or television lately, you know on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Florida will elect a new U.S. senator and governor, fill its 25 congressional seats, and vote on several potentially game-changing amendments, including Amendment 4. If passed, A4 would require voter approval of certain changes to city and county guidelines that say, basically, what can be built where. It may sound dry, but proponents and opponents of the amendment have spent millions to sway public opinion. Both sides agree on one thing: the fate of Amendment 4 will profoundly impact Florida.

With many Miamians hazy on the details, we asked the leading group on either side of the A4 debate to explain its position to Beached Miami readers. Here, Lesley Blackner, president of Florida Hometown Democracy, explains why a vote for Amendment 4 is a vote for the environment, conservation, and against corruption. (You can read an op-ed by Vote No on 4 executive director Ryan Houk HERE.)*

We all know that stupid, reckless overdevelopment has paved over too many of Florida’s unique places: her beaches, waterways, uplands, and wetlands. But what can we do about it?

The 2010 ballot gives us our first real option to change the future, to end the overdevelopment madness: Amendment 4.

At stake is our quality of life and natural resources. You know all too well in South Florida what happens when we allow rampant overbuilding: a glut of condo units in Miami and development into sensitive areas of the Everglades, threatening that unique ecological feature and decimating Florida Bay with runoff and pollution. How much more can South Florida take before it collapses, both environmentally and economically?

The Florida Panther, which used to roam the entire state, will soon be extinct. Why? Because over the past 10 years, so much of its remaining habitat has been paved over in Lee and Collier counties, one of the epicenters of the bust real estate bubble. Florida’s “dead cat walking” is a reminder that politicians and bureaucrats have shown time and time again they can’t be trusted to protect our homes, our communities, our beautiful state, and it’s irreplaceable wildlife.

But it’s not just wildlife that is threatened.

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