Florida’s Growth Management Experience: From Top-Down Direction to Laissez Faire Land Use
Land use and development pose fundamental urban governance challenges around the world.
As a reporter, I covered subsequent waves of growth management reforms from 2004-2011 in Florida, policy shifts which alternatively tightened and repealed planning requirements for local governments while lessening public-infrastructure finance obligations of developers. Florida’s growth management experience reflects seemingly incompatible impulses to maintain its image as a low-tax destination for retirees and businesses, power its economic engine via population gains and low-density development, while periodically acknowledging the central role that environmental resources play in its desirability to new residents and employers.
Exploring this seemingly bipolar policy dilemma, I wrote a chapter for The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability to trace the recent history of reforms in Florida’s growth management regime. The story of Florida's growth management experience often overlooks the role of local government policymakers who have experimented with a range of urban containment strategies. Utilizing surveys of local government planners from three time periods (2002, 2007, 2015), the chapter examines land use choices before and after the Great Recession and a state-level deregulatory reform of Florida’s once-heralded growth-management system in 2011 to examine variation in land-use regulations at the local level. The patterns have implications for future research and practice and suggest that the durability of land-management tools intended to stave off development and preserve open space may need to be carefully examined apart from smart growth approaches which assume development is inevitable.
I work as an Assistant Professor at the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington. There, I direct the MGMT Lab.