To the Editor:
We are deeply disappointed to report that Governor DeSantis has signed Senate Bill 540, legislation that will decimate citizens’ planning rights and imperil the future of Everglades restoration. We regret that he did not heed the warnings of so many Floridians like you, including more than 5,770 who signed our veto petition, that SB 540 would pave the way for urban sprawl and do irreparable damage to Florida’s environment and quality of life.
SB 540 will threaten ordinary Floridians with financial ruin for exercising their right to legally challenge amendments that conflict with their communities’ comprehensive plans — their blueprints for environmentally and fiscally sustainable growth. Floridians who lose such challenges could be forced to pay the attorney fees and costs of the prevailing local government and any developers that chose to intervene.
The risk of getting stuck with this five- or six-figure expense will virtually eliminate citizen challenges, a crucial check on growth under Florida’s community planning process. This loss will be especially dangerous for the Everglades, where a wave of development proposals could do irreversible harm to the multibillion-dollar taxpayer-funded restoration. This terrible law also will force taxpayers today and in the future to bear the costs of unsustainable development.
Governor DeSantis’ decision to sign this profoundly misguided legislation undermines priorities he outlined in his January executive order that called for improvements to the comprehensive planning process to ensure sustainable growth and protect natural resources, including the Everglades. It threatens his record of accomplishment on Everglades restoration.
1000 Friends of Florida will do everything we can to make sure that SB 540 is not the last word on this critical element of growth management and citizens’ planning rights. We will work with legislators in future sessions to undo or lessen the damage from this disastrous law. And we will need your continued engagement to succeed.
Thank you again for your support.
Paul Owens, President
1,000 Friends of Florida