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Politics

One Last Push to Keep DCA Alive

April 25, 2010 - 6:00pm

Leaders of planning and environmental groups from across the state met at the steps of the Old Capitol on Monday in a last-minute effort to push the House to reauthorize the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The DCA manages growth and development and land use across the state.

While the Senate reauthorized the DCA by a unanimous vote, compatible bills in the House, filed by Rep. Faye Culp, R-Tampa, have not emerged in the House. With the session in its last week, advocates of DCA are going all out to rally supporters to contact the House to preserve the department.

The future of our great state depends on taking action this week, said Charles Pattison, president of 1000 Friends of Florida, a nonprofit organization that monitors the state's growth management.

Pattison and the other leaders said DCA is important in leading sustainable growth management in Florida while preserving the environment.

If DCA is not reauthorized this session, DCA and Floridas growth-management process will be especially vulnerable to elimination, dismantlement, funding cutbacks and/or excessive political pressure over the coming year, said Pattison.

We need strong agencies that can stand up to developers and say no, said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida.

Besides environmental leaders like Draper, supporters of DCA include planners. Kim Glas-Castro, president of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, sent a letter to Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, urging the House to keep DCA intact today.

There is a need for a strong state land planning agency to help Floridas communities incorporate the necessary new standards and policies that advance sustainable management and community development practices, wrote Glas-Castro.

Advocates of the DCA said that incoming Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, is the chief reason DCAs reauthorization remains in limbo. They maintain that Cannon intends to gut the department.

Cannon denied that was the case on Monday. I havent been involved at all on agency sunset issues this session, he said.

Advocates for DCA said they encourage their members to contact representatives in the House.

Lets send a clear message that growth management is important to all Floridians, said David Cullen of the Sierra Club. DCA wants to give citizens a voice.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or (850) 727-0859.

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