January 31, 2011
The Coalition for Property Rights was recently approached by a group of property owners and small business owners in Winter Park, Florida, with concerns regarding a municipal “improvement project” planned for their small commercial corridor directly off Interstate 4 which would entail roadway improvements impacting transit to and from their small businesses and include a planned new tax assessment to fund the municipality’s “beautification” vision. Our answer to their call: “Absolutely. How can CPR help?”
In this specific situation and in localities across Florida, we are continuing to witness the attempted overlay of the City’s vision (or more accurately, the vision of a relatively small group of political elites) over private property with little or no respect for the “vision” which owners might have for their privately-owned property.
This problem is caused in large part by our State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) and comprehensive planning policies which mandate every county and municipality in Florida engage in anti-property rights activities and the public planning of private property. Until Florida’s Growth Management Act is reformed or repealed, property owners and small businesses will be subjected to annual attacks on their property rights and property values.
In this case, some affected owners believe city officials would prefer to see their small businesses eliminated and replaced by larger buildings and larger businesses which would generate larger tax revenues. They have good reason for this suspicion.
This type of economic favoritism or economic elitism is heavily implied during planning discussions and even bluntly articulated by staff and local officials across Florida. Those supporting a municipality’s “vision” argue the existing property and small business owners simply “ought to recognize the benefit” of these overlays. From this perspective, the potential ability to sell your land for anticipated profit at some unknown point in the future should be viewed as “a huge favor” by government officials – even if it appears negative to small businesses struggling to survive in the short run and whose land and livelihoods might be considered “non-conforming” uses when changes to zoning and future land use conditions are adopted.
Florida’s Comprehensive Planning regulations strongly promote the idea that municipalities should overlay their public vision over private land. Under Florida’s GMA, there is no text which restricts public planning to public lands or to public activities like transportation or utility corridors. What Florida’s GMA does do – is create targets of existing small businesses – many of whom do believe as Americans they have every right to continue existing operations at their existing size and scale as long as they can successfully afford to do so.
The idea that public entities should plan the future of private land is anti-property rights ideology. I also believe it is un-American. No property owner or small business owner who has worked hard, sacrificed, saved, taken the risk of investing and pays taxes should be subject to any entity of local government placing a label over their land which restricts their ability to use it. Yet, this is exactly what we have in Florida today…and why CPR gets calls from small businesses owners who feel their basic right to stay in business is being undermined by their own government.
Small businesses are the backbone of America’s economy. Small businesses should be strongly supported by every elected office holder and every public employee whose salary is partially-funded by small business tax dollars. Woe to an America that forgets that every big business or international mega-corporation began as a small business.
One of the aspects of the infamous Kelo v. New London eminent domain case (in which the U.S. Supreme Court incredibly allowed a city to seize private property for the purpose of transferring the land to another third party) that has not been discussed was the failure of the community to stand up for the small property owners and small businesses who were targeted.
If you are a land owner witnessing a regulatory impact to another land owner but do nothing…If you are a small business owner who watches another business impacted by government but do nothing…how long do you think it will be before another faction of that same government, using the same excuse or ideology comes for you? Who will stand up for you and your rights – if you yourself are not willing to take a stand for others.
We are in a new era where small businesses are no longer valued by government leaders and are no longer perceived to be the best or “most desirable” use of land in certain geographical areas by certain elites. If this idea angers you…It should. It should anger every American.
Realize that whenever others are subjected to unfair treatment and government is not pushed back and told, “Stop – you just can’t do this,”….if and when, government ever sets its focus on your home or business – it could also happen to you.
If you would like to assist CPR in our efforts to take a stand for small businesses in Florida and America – we invite you to join us in communicating with state and local officials when you see issues concerning small business and when opportunities are brought to your attention by CPR.
In the upcoming Legislative Session, you will also hear and read a great deal about necessary reforms to Florida’s Growth Management Act, Comprehensive Plan and the Department of Community Affairs (which has responsibilities for overseeing/enforcing these policies.) These reforms are badly needed to improve what is truly “bad law” and poor public policy. Your communications to local and state officials is vital to supporting small businesses and property owners across Florida.
America as we know it – or the America we once read about in our history books will cease to exist as a land of unlimited opportunity if we each do not recognize what is occurring all around us.
The next time you hear the word “vision” used by any agency or branch of local or state government, ask yourself the question, “Whose vision is it?” and “What small businesses or land owners might be impacted by the adoption of this vision plan?”
International history has taught us some very harsh lessons about what happens to ordinary citizens when government leaders forget government should serve as a “support function” and instead seek to impose their “vision” on citizens or specific minority groups.
FAST FACTS: HOW IMPORTANT ARE SMALL BUSINESSES ARE TO THE U.S. ECONOMY?
According to the federal Small Business Administration (http://www.sba.gov/), small firms:
- Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
- Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
- Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
- Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
- Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
- Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
- Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
- Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION THIS WEEK:
30 SECONDS: Think about personally embracing the idea that you have a role to play in America as a citizen property rights activist.
60 SECONDS: Help CPR in its grassroots work to support the Small Business Owners in the Fairbanks Corridor in Winter Park – by sending a short email, such as, “Small Businesses Matter! I am a taxpayer and strongly support Fairbanks Corridor Small Businesses!“ to Winter Park City Leadership: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
90 SECONDS: Email Governor Rick Scott (email@example.com), Senate President Mike Haridopolos (firstname.lastname@example.org), House Speaker Dean Cannon (email@example.com) and your individual State Senator or State Representative (lists available at http://www.flsenate.gov/ or http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/) with a quick message to let them know you strongly support regulatory reform, Growth Management Act reform, Comprehensive Planning reform, DCA reform – or a regulatory reform of specific interest to your industry or small business.
2 MINUTES: Add CPR’s 2011 slogan, “Property Rights Built Florida.” to your email signature or our general motto of, “Property Rights Matter.“ CPR’s out-of-state members can customize our slogan to their state or use, “Property Rights Built America.” A nation without property rights is a nation without opportunity. This is a very small way to join and help CPR in promoting the value of private property rights. Also, think of how much you now see “green” agenda propaganda communicated in this same fashion and in advertising. Take a stand for liberty, by personally promoting the ideas of liberty.
JOIN CPR TODAY!
If you are not an official of CPR or need to renew your membership for 2011, we invite you to join CPR today – at any level of support. Private property rights are the cornerstone of America’s economy and supporting property rights is as all-American as apple pie. CPR mission is to promote the value of private property rights and to defend these rights from erosion. If you support this mission, add volume to our collective voice by enlisting as an official member. Contribute at any level and join fellow citizens in uniting in the work of saving the American Dream. CPR offers two ways to join via our website http://www.proprights.com/. You can join online using our easy online form, or print off a membership form which can be mailed in to our office: CPR, 2878 South Osceola Avenue, Orlando, FL 32806.
Reader responses always welcomed: firstname.lastname@example.orgCarol Saviak Executive Director Coalition for Property Rights 2878 South Osceola Avenue Orlando, FL 32806 407-481-2289 407-481-0834 fax
Property Rights Built Florida! Support property rights today: http://www.proprights.com/