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interviewed by William Mansfield.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file ( 83 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
West Central Florida land use oral history project
Denise Layne, president of the Lutz Civic Association and executive director of the Coalition 4 Responsible Growth, talks about managing rural development. She discusses the history of the Lutz Civic Association, the Coalition 4 Responsible Growth, rural development in Lutz, the politics of the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners, the building of a high school in Lutz, the Dale Mabry corridor plan, lobbying the Florida Congress, and her experiences bringing groups of developers and activists together. The interview ends with a discussion of private interests dominating the political process, which Ms. Layne feels is in part due to poor public education for the voting public.
Interview conducted June 25, 2007, in Lutz, Fla.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Lutz Civic Association (Fla.)
Coalition 4 Responsible Growth.
x Citizen participation.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E T h i s O r a l H i s t o r y i s c o p y r i g h t e d b y t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a L i b r a r i e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o g r a m o n b e h a l f o f t h e B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 7 U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d T h i s o r a l h i s t o r y m a y b e u s e d f o r r e s e a r c h i n s t r u c t i o n a n d p r i v a t e s t u d y u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F a i r U s e F a i r U s e i s a p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o p y r i g h t L a w ( U n i t e d S t a t e s C o d e T i t l e 1 7 s e c t i o n 1 0 7 ) w h i c h a l l o w s l i m i t e d u s e o f c o p y r i g h t e d m a t e r i a l s u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s F a i r U s e l i m i t s t h e a m o u n t o f m a t e r i a l t h a t m a y b e u s e d F o r a l l o t h e r p e r m i s s i o n s a n d r e q u e s t s c o n t a c t t h e U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F L O R I D A L I B R A R I E S O R A L H I S T O R Y P R O G R A M a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a 4 2 0 2 E F o w l e r A v e n u e L I B 1 2 2 T a m p a F L 3 3 6 2 0
Land Use Oral History Project Patel Center for Global Solutions University of South Florida Interview with: Ms. Denise Layne Interviewed by: William Mansfield Location: Lutz, Florida Date: June 25, 2007 Transcribed by: Wm. Mansfield Edited by: Wm. Mansfield Audit Edited by: Jessica Merrick Audit Edit Date: November 27, 2007 Final Edit by: Nicole Cox Final Edit Date: December 11, 2007 WM: We always put a label on the disc by saying: This is Bill Mansfield, from the Patel Center for Global Solution s talking with Ms. Denise Layne here in the Lutz Library on June 25, 2007. Ms. Layne we always get people to start out by having them state their name and telling us when they were born and where they were born. So let her go. DL : My name is Denise Don na Layne. (spells) L A Y N E. I was born February 25, 1955, in Chicago, Illinois. WM: Okay. When did you come to Lutz? my youth. I decided there was nothing for me in Detroit. I came down here for vacation and never went back. That was in Cocoa Beach. almost thirty years, I think. WM: Okay. What brought you here? DL: Vacation, and WM: Okay. What brought you to Lutz, in particular? DL: I had gotten married in 1976, to my first husband, in Wildwood, [Florida] believe it or not. I had lived in Wildwood for a couple of y ears, working at Sumter Correctional Institution for a year and a half.
had to get on wi th my life. utz? DL: I worked for a homebuilder, actually. One of the jobs, as I was working my way through my life. I started working for Westbury?? Homes. I was the vice president of the custom home building company. One of the guys died. The other one, John Westf all?? is still around. five years Because we owned the subdivision I lived in. We we re the developers and homebuilders in that. There were only 13 little lots, out there in Lutz. I bought one of the lots and designed the home, built the home and helped everybody on my street design and interior decorate all of their homes too. [While] wor king for a homebuilder. years ago. And sold real estate, as well. WM: But your development was here in Lutz? WM: What was Lutz like when you first came here? DL: Orange trees as far as you could see. I remember the orange blossoms. For years I just looked forward to the orange blossom season. I think there are maybe two or three little orchards left in Lutz, which is very sad. Very, very sad. five years ago. The only place like that in the state now is around Lake Wales; where you just see nothing but orange groves everywhere the true growing stuff. Lutz st ill has its semi rural character. I dare anybody that lives out here or moves out rural. [I] never did. But that is one thing, that as a community, for years for d ecades to maintain that character. That rural, semi rural character. The small town feeling, the feeling of belonging to a community.
in the world, but we have a what everybody knows to be the core of Lutz. That helps because it gave off a physical as all my time here. WM: Now when you say that you want to preserve the rural, or the small town feeling of Lutz, describe what that means. How would you define that? DL: The first thing anybody will tell you because if you see how I went through this. Through community planning, through all the different land use things that we have done um People say that keeping open natural green space is top priority in Lutz. Read our plan; read anything about Lutz and within the first paragraph you will see that. Open space, not cookie cutter grid like streets. Yes [a grid] in our downtown. That makes sense when you lowed density. We had to compromise on one acre lots. Tha planning. I will be the first to admit it. But this community has developed that way over a hundred years and all we did was to continue its pattern of development. Would I recommend one acre lots all over the county? No! Absolutely not! But we have a hundred continued. What we wanted was one house to five we had to compromise on the one acre [lots]. WM: O town feel. The green DL: Channeling development in the areas that we want developed, not just everything up certain quality and quantity of development that needs to be planned in different areas. the zoning What the development community has sold to our elected officials [is] the highest and best use. We [the development community] are entitled to the higher denser commercial [use of property]. That is not the property rights law. That is not the Bert Harris Act. It is the zoning you now have on your property.
WM: The what act? DL: Bert Harris Act. That is the [said in a sarcastic tone] Property Rights Law playing with that in Ta llahassee for three or four years now. your sense of community, how would you define that? um our markets in the p ark with our governor. I mean our civic association has been instrumental for years pulling our community together in a fun fundraising event. It gets a lot of publicity. It raises thousands and thousands of dollars [and] 100 percent of it goes back into the community. DL: So that brings people together. We created our train depot out here instead of always being known as organization work with developers in our commun ity to help them see the vision, rather than the negative energy that always seems to go out from different groups. It seems like because they are fighting for their homesteads and their lives. We decided to start doing positive things, so the governor?? thing has been out there in front. We decided that the community concerts? Do you want the We built it and made sure that it could be used as a stage as well. So we actually [made it] a dual y ou should see if you go read [the sign on] the depot [it tells you] we the people of Lutz paid for that. Not the government. This was not a tax subsidized [project]. Absolutely not! t them buy in the protection and they helped with getting the people alive and motiv ated to help defend the community. WM: Okay. [Earlier] you asked me to ask you how you got started in this. So let her go. You said it started with a knock on the door? But I got a knock on my door asking me to sign a petition to stop the Lutz High School on lane road. There was no water or sewage out there and they were about to build something that was going to have 3,000 students in it. [I d much back then], but just from a pure planning, land use perspective I knew a school of
that size was not going to fit on a two lane road with absolutely no infrastructure. wrote. That group was Denise Lasher Denise Layne, Steve Paulizine?? Ron Stoye?? Caroline Meaker?? stop [the school]. [Sure] we actually tried to stop it there yes. But we also were working behind the scene at the school board, to find another site. We wanted the high school in the community; they just kept trying to put it on two lane roads where it w killing the Lutz High School. We worked our butts off for over a year, trying to find another site. The politics would Six months after we started that initiative, the Lutz Civic Assoc iation was legally alive, but technically we had not had a meeting or anything in three years. So it was still a corporation and still [active] but there were really no people in it. Caroline Meaker had been keeping it alive for the three years, so it wo uld not go defunct. Caroline and I played hand help you get it started. But we need you out in front do [That night] four hundred people showed up for the first meeting of the Civic Association to re activate it. That night I was nominated as president. Of course we declined, we had to do it right. Get the board, get everything back in place. And then do it legally. But I ended up president, [in 1996, as I say] the first president year, still with the Civic Association, but now as their land use liaison; because I just started land use and growth management non profit. I wanted to be part of protecting my got off all director of the Coalition for Responsible Growth. WM: Tell me about um the activities of the Lutz Civic Association, to protect and preserve Lutz. DL: What we found was once we got past the school issue, which took two or three years, but during that time there became a place for people to go when re zonings were
happening in the community. That had stopped, so every little neighborhood was on its own, for a while. The very first rezoning I did we did was mini warehouses, on [HWY] 41, right in our downtown, what we considered our business [district] downtown, which is next to where warehouses on it. tying to re build a vibrant downtown and we got this gumba trying to put social activity. So we were trying to dissuade him from that and [get him to] work with us on anoth er land use. with the re zoning [request]. We won. It killed his rezoning [request]. His name is Cliff Livingston. He now sits on my board of directors of Coalition 4 Re sponsible Growth. He is not an enemy, he is a friend. He has built that whole understands, as most developers, the true ones really want a win win situation. They want to enhance to work with the community to create a good project. overpowering development interests that, right now, seem to be controlling [our elected officials in the county] to the point that it is hurting us. WM: Okay, tell me you all came together to fight the school? We now get public notice of everyt hing that goes on within our borders and with a mile game. Community plan, developing the code, part of the Northeast Plan, the Citrus Park Plan, Every one of them, Bill, even thought there are similarities in rural character, the core of each community has its own unique charac
size fits One code! Right now we still have mostly that. One code fits every little issue in the county and Country, which is not for sure [the same as in] Brandon. Okay? So we have become like the watchdogs. And then we learned I would say 90 percent of the time, after ten years, the development community will call talk to you about. We want to make sure we are seeing the same vision in the community And I can tell you that maybe three times in the last five years have we actually had to issue is. Most of the time it gets resolved. Of course the public out there still sees development as running rampant, which is funny. e out here to live in the rural and get away from the hubbub of downtown, now wants to slam the door behind them. that. s with developers [discussing issues]. (We They want us fighting and rabid. So you only he ar [about] the fighting and rabid side of twenty [hours] working behind the scenes to make a better community and actually done a very positive and productive thing. So bad political situation in this county right now. And we, the stupid voters, have let it e do not
dearly for it. DL: Well the land use is now a probl em with our BOCC. The developers have got a strong hold on them. We cannot WM: BOCC stands for? DL: Our County Commission, Hillsborough County Commission. They have succeeded with this new board, of getting a solid block of four votes. WM: But BOCC sta nds for? DL: Board of County Commissioners. WM: Okay. Thank you. like that. DL: Hillsborough Board of Coun ty Commissioners, okay. DL: Okay. organized to oppose it and you DL: Oppose it and look for a new site. It was the opposition that the paper always picked the fields with the school staff. Okay? What ultimately ended up happening is that Denise Lasher, out of her own pocket, hi red an attorney, Ted Taub and had to sue the school board to stop them from there. Politically, what happened at that point was, the school having a pot of money, ready to go in Lutz because of spending two years fighting with the community, trying to cram something down our throats, that did not fit. Town and Country was also second on the list to get a school. They switched the priority from Lutz to Town and Country and got their school built first.
us with a high school on Lutz Lake Fern [Road]. The difference between that on a two lane road Lake Fern is two lanes.) The difference is we spent two and a half years now as a community. The Civic Association mediated between the School Board, the Turn Pike, a meetings where we coordinated [the planning]. This all has to be timed (slaps a the infrastructures out there. (speaks with emphasis) We worked together and we brought the school in. Had the school district not dug in, back in 95, and worked with us, like they (finally!) are working with us now, we would have had a high school on Lutz already. WM: Do you have any idea why they dug in and DL: Politics. One word: Politics. WM: Could you explain that a little bit more? DL: (Sighs) The politi cal will of where the district wanted to put schools, versus where the community wanted [to locate the school]. The school district is one of the last bureaucracies. Mary Ellen Elliay?? has taken us a long way in the right direction. A long, long way! I admire her immensely for what she is doing play. WE will decide where the schools g o. Be damned with the county planning. It That was the attitude eleven years ago. Since the Lutz High School Issue, we took a beating. The Community is getting a bum wrap for not wanting a high school. [That is] not t rue. But because of that issue the district had the force to start including [us]. We went to Tallahassee. We changed laws. See, now our governor forced the school district to plan its school with the Comp. Plan, [and] with the community. We passed that l aw in 2005, the Growth Management Act.
you t little neighborhood things here Then you throw three thousand kids in and change the whole character of the area. the knowledge and the recognition now that these schools have the impact that they have, is finally being ack nowledged. They would not acknowledge that back then. benefiting from the beating we took and the laws we had to change to get us there. (Not that they are doing a great job but we are getting better.) (chuckles) you know how people are: they like to label. We organized it, yes. But when we had to show up to community meetings, we had to go before the district, when we had to talk to the commission hundred people in the room. ll phone blasts out a chiming ring tone) WM: But what you did to oppose the school is you just showed up at the meetings and voiced you opposition and had the support of the entire community or a large portion of the community? DL: Oh, it was letter writ ing campaigns. It was showing up for meetings. It was talking to your attorney. It was rallying groups. It was speaking to different organizations and groups and making them understand what the issues were. and politically the [school] d istrict tried to lay this out as a political ( These people are anti school Anti kids in these schools. We have grandkids in these schools. We want the school in Lutz. But we are not going to sacrifice the entire eastern, rural section of Lutz to accommodate a school. Put it on Highway 41. Put it on one of our four l ane [roads]. Put it on Dale School. We lost our high school just that politically quick. We went from losing one high school i
mail activity, letter writing, meeting with the commissioners, meeting with the district, meeting with the School Board. Attorneys are involved. Meetings wit h real estate people, looking at sites (sighs) WM: Sounds like it was a frus trating experience, but ultimately a successful one. DL: Yes! WM: So but you um mentioned the mini warehouses, is that something that followed closely on the school issue? DL: It had nothing to do with it, but it happened like four months after the sc hool issue. Once the civic association kicked back into life And at first, all we were doing [was fighting.] thing was a fight a fight a fight. Anybody who knows me knows will do. I do not want it negative. I want it positive. these developers before they file these things. If they will let us talk to them before they It took a couple [or] three years, but we got there. I mean if y is willing to talk communities have problems with developers making promises and then breaking them them any more. Why I am I going to waste time getting a bunch of promises I know will not be kept? So we just do what we got to do. But, s eriously 90 percent is very positive and we can work with them. And they do call. WM: Okay. So of the whole process. But the successful organization to protect Lutz from this unplann ed school um energized the community to continue to protect Lutz from unplanned, unwarranted development?
always verbalize it well. But we know we like the green space. We know we love to see that. So, over the years we were the first community p lan. We were the first rural community plan in the state; Lutz and Keystone, at the same time. acter and vision. If you will read [and see] that these people are clearly telling [us] they want the open space. They want trashed. That brings me to my second part of my growth management. The e nvironment is very much part of growth management. And when you have sixty eight lakes in Lutz. And all what I had to do in a very short of time. Over the years I keep learning and knowing more and more and more. But it is an integral part of our development now. The one to protect our So we have to keep fighting their battles, because we do not have a political will battles. I do believe government, as a whole really enjoys keeping the pot riled, beca use they then your politics. WM: Okay. DL: Back to them again, uh? (laughs) WM: Tell me about the mini warehouse issue. You mentioned that this guy wanted to put the mini warehouses downtown. DL: In downtown. WM: That would essentially create a dead zone.
DL: A dead activity zone, yeah. WM: So walk me though the process of; he comes up with the proposal and you all DL: No we came up with it. He had an attorney. Her name is Judy James. She came in there slapped it down, refused to meet with us and never told him that we wanted to meet with him. We went to the re zoning. There were no discussions. There was nothing. We had to fight it flat out [and] kill it. Beca those appened to be community. But warehouses, what do you want? Will you have lunch with me? Can You see the product. WM: So he had this land that he wanted to develop and you a ll suggested some other DL: Listen, our community plan will let you do this and this and this. (Actually, back u this is part of our activity center. The problem that Cliff had was that the property he has is crossed by a railroad. As soon as you cross railroad tracks, the property i because of safety issues. They got to cross railroad tracks just whatever. So he decided on a lot of little office buildings. And every one of those people [bought] their little building and he keeps it up WM: So it worked out DL: Something that the community needed. Something for him. Nobody complained
about those [offices]. Well not going to help your community. WM: Right. DL: He filled needs for the community. number of rooftops in a three mile radius lane highway running though the community that brings an enormous amount of traffic. The y restaurants. I put the word out. Two yeas ago (three years ago?) Lutz Civic Association hosted a meeting. We brought the community and the de velopment community together in one big meeting and said, And, God bless them, they went out for a year and a half and tried. But because of the restaurants here sooner or later. WM: Tell me about the development community. Who are they? DL: Anyone from land use attorneys to planners to land owners to homebuilders. I mean I know a Are there some blac
But for the most part, they just have c lients that want to develop their property. They found, in certain communities they can come where you can talk to [the community] and Lutz is one of them. And if we hate it at your own risk buddy! ork for them, financially, they go away. If it does work for them, we have success. So what Look at Dale Mabry from County Line Road to Van Dyke Road. Then look at it from Van Dyke south. WM: DL: What you will see is green open space, very light land uses along Dale Mabry and Lutz. Because we have a Dale Mabry Corridor Plan, on top of our Lutz Community Plan. We said o n Dale Mabry, you have three intersections that [we] need [to have] community they go. And for twenty center that was in our commercial node. Have other things been developed out of those three nodes? Yes. Swimming pool instruction classes, [plant] nurseries, very low [impact] offices, a bank. Low key, low impact [structures], which can be done, accordin g to the plan. But what you see along that first five miles [south from there] turns to pure concrete chaos, advertising signs nightmare. that Dale Mabry Corridor Pl an again, updating it after twenty five years. have people that at least understand The process is so complicated Bill. The normal guy out there does not have the time to dedicate [what it takes to] understand this complicated process. It takes a few community leaders to learn, to share, to guide, t o help. Okay, there I went. Back in
active and wrote a water bill connecting water planning to land use planning. Does that sound familiar? It bombed big time that year. Bom me in the Senate. Johnny Bird?? believe it or not, sponsored it in the House. It died. The next year another legislator picked it up and kept with it. In 2005 we finally got a comprehensive water p happen. state thing every year local state, local in Tallahassee this last session because our board of EPC would not allow the ir staff to defend themselves. So coincidence. So I started to become pa rt of the planning [process] and the positive solution versus reacting all the time. me forty hours a week at some point. I understand the system. I have a passion for the system. profit [that] gives me a little bit of money. But it gets my knowledge out there. If people would understand when you wait for the bulldozers to come in, if you wait for the re gh to just put words on paper. been in effect than fighting re zonings. I have to now defend our plan to our government because they want to interpret it differently t han we intended. And being someone who e committed and I need to be committed. (laughs at her own pun)
WM: No, I was going to ask how can you explain your passion for this. What drives you? What motivates you to take this on? DL: When I first started it was my responsibility. I took it very seriously as president of the association, okay? I educated [myself] and for n ine years it was my duty. When I started and walk blindly down the road with it. No! All long the way I was questioning. Why? the question, who answers the question? How do we fix it? How do we make this better? How do we do this? world because it is a c know that, unfortunately? Because of that, every case is unique. I have fine tuned what I do in my legal profession as a paralegal to trial preparation and trial attendance. aralegal. I will go in right toward a trial; help an attorney organize a system in the trial. Help write the briefs, the laws e a hands on, really making a difference. about comp plans, which is a law. We realized whoa! Okay, I k now how to play legal games. I know how to play with laws and process. So I started leaning more and more and more and asking more questions. As I was being shoved aside, just keep on. You just keep on and keep on and I forced myself to tables I was not in vited to. And after awhile I made friends and [was] accepted. So it takes a lot of tenacity. And now I guess the passion is I see solutions all over the The political will of elected officials right now doe s not want to see it and it is frustrating. We hit a very bad period where the pendulum swung [in] the wrong direction. It hit its owards the middle, back to where most people sit, which is moderation.
WM: Common sense? WM: But you were a paralegal? DL: Oh, yes, that helped me. Everything is a legal process. Everything is legal, so it helped me tune right into that. WM: Okay. DL: Of course my thirty problem with a land use issue [we can ask And then when I got to Tallahassee my people skills and my leadership skills really developed during my presidency of the civic association. I was learning that I had t o stand in front of boards all the time. I had to stand in front of people and talk. I was on nervousness). I could hardly speak I was so nervous. I would just stumble a ll over the place. My speaking skills, my comfort level [and] my knowledge base [have greatly improved]. Now I stand in Tallahassee in front of Senate and House committees. I give them m a line of scare stories. I give them facts [that] they can verify. that kno w how to play the game. And I am doing everything I can to share that not hopeless. Work with me in Tallahassee. We had an enormous e mail thing going up in Tallah assee this year. My group went to their groups that went to their groups. It scared the heck out of those legislators. It was what we have is the community. L utz, Hillsborough County, re electing is killing this county right now and the city and the state.
control growth. ct it. WM: Okay, well direct it. Okay. Who are your allies in the community? Who are the DL: Civic groups, civic organizations. WM: But how would you describe those pe ople? Something hit them in their back yard. We all, we all start as NIMBYs [Not In My Ba ck Yard] in the citizen world. Every one of us start out as Not In My Back Yard. Every one. it in my back yard for personal reasons. It was because we were going to spend millions and screw up the character of an entire area, over a school. Schools are supposed part of the community, not destroy a community. They were doing that. Again, things have changed. WM: Well you say their number. We start connecting. We keep together] ten years of connections. working people um managerial people? people to they see that a ngers them to learn more and try to fix it. And when they realize how complicated it is it sucks you in like a vacuum. I mean truly, civic activism is a huge machine.
byss which I still angry] and throwing it across the room. (laughs). I know how to fix it and I see the greed, the stupidity the nonpublic That is a good exam ple. glut of money and spent it like drunken sailors. Absolutely they did! When t hey should and spent it as fast as they could. Shame on them! public, and all of the things that we hold dear to this community. Our planning, our uff going straight down the toilet right now. Thanks to this County Commission we have in power. They are consistently now trying to get rid of the EPC, the Environmental Protection Commission, trying to get rid of the planning commission. Trying [to get r id of] anything that is putting the littlest speed bump in the road for a permit or development. insane to ask any developer to go to four places to get wetlands looked do that in a normal business world. We would not ask you to go four separate organizations to look at the same thing in different ways. (thumps table for emphasis) that. Absolutely, it makes good business sense. But it needs to come down to the local level. citizens have the most power, making sure our land use stays as local as possible. When we allow the state to take over and to oversee and manage, you lose control of your community. So these community planes are very important and that, we as citizens take back our land use in Hillsborough County. We have to. Our future is a t stake, not just in Lutz, but in this whole county. Oh! Thonotosassa, their comp plan, talk about bad land use. Jim Norman [wants to put]
the comp plan! That comp plan say there will not be any significant growth out there for and restaurant [out there]. That is not what our law says you can do, Mr. Commissioner. So and change the law. You see what's going on? We've got absolute personal agendas going on now. (sighs) WM: So these people are just trying to increase their own wealth? DL: And for a handful of people, who give their campai gns that are helping them move into higher office. Commission. Jim Norman is our of this stuff is. They are following bad leadership. bad leadership. So our land planning is under attack right now. Our whole land use [system is under attack], every part of it, from environment, to planning to implementation to just oversight. aries. DL: Right now the biggest one seems to be our government, the bulk of our elected officials. I can tell you that [the] staff are our allies. Staff in the county and the city, they really want to do the right thing. [With] the politics and the p ower above them, they really amazing thing. And none of them will blow the whi because the commissioner got to him. our Consti
Our executive, legislative and judicial branch. trator directly under the power of our County Commission. It says in the charter, she is separate. But our commission hires and fires her. So how separate do you think she is going to be? Our county attorney, directly under the control of our commission. Now how independent and objective is she going to be for the good of the populace, when her paycheck and her job depends upon the County Commission? We have an internal auditor, [who] answers only to the BOCC [Board of County got a built in ex hatchet job person to the whim of the county commissioners. And people wonder why everything is falling apart? ion and our courts. taxes name the issue e agenda, money majority. WM: Would you want to comment on the goo saying anything want [to say]. But I was thinking DL: Well all I can tell you is what I see and I see Rose Ferlita and Mark Sharpe fighting to the death to try and do what is right and what common sense dictates they are two against five. There is a block of four votes now, all the time. private interest block. Block. WM: The Jock Block? DL: Think of the three athlete commissioners. The three that have got athletics involved, You can figure it out, if you think a bout it and see who they are.
WM: But you were telling me that you ran for office growth issues. So tell me about that. such thing in Hillsborough County), but it was basically the northern part of Hillsborough County. I lost to Ken Hagen. WM: And you were running for? DL: County Commission. WM: Okay. Homes and everybody i pushing it from the way I can do it. I was asked again to run in 2004, this time county wide; which I did. I ran against Mark Sharpe. Mark beat me by 30,000 votes. Joe Redner was in that race as an independent, or no party, I think he was no party back then. And he took 40,000 votes. [You] do the Mark Sharpe and I have become friends but we talk to each other. He listens to my perspective. And yo are there for you to listen to the public and weigh your vote, before you go in. Just do it. n against This last election he was up for re oing on the right [track]. Protect the public. Protect our County They are weakening our land use laws. They are weakening they tore out the livable community a whole element. Here we are at the state level, the County Commission.
The County Commission ha s instructed, years ago, we need to clarify in our comp plan. We need to really let the development community see what it is communities want. So The planning commission spends three years, gets pulled out the sidewalks stuff, out of that part of the plan. We pulled out the road part. SO everything is one place in the comp plan to show you how to create quality of life communities. (gasps) [There was] no public hearing! In a workshop the Board of County Commissioners Commission sa have a public hearing on it. So, again, the land use stuff, right here in Hillsborough County, our whole quality of life elf interest; Commissioners sitting on that board. Ten years ago I would have pointed the City Council of Tampa and said (in They are wonderful compared to this bunch. I mean the C ity Council is finally doing public [service]. I mean, getting a grip and doing the right thing, to get to the solutions we talking this stuff out. de of the talk to each other. Do not do not talk to each other, in Tallahassee. environmentalists, community leaders and business leaders. www.c4rg.com ). We reply all. For example, on Friday I sent and e
want Coalition for Responsible Growth to get involved with this Environmental I knew I had developer full. m going for it. we bring some kind of solution forward? How do we offer some kind of something, other than grid doing. If you look at the papers we hav e written, they are very common sense, matter of fact, not aggressive activist in your face dealing with in the real today. WM: Let me ask a little bit about your campaign. You said you ran on responsible growth issues? DL: No, I mean growth management, control I mean just understanding the growth issues and knowing some of the things we need to do to start moving forward. And we have not moved forward in Hillsborough County in over ten years. WM: Tell what were some of the things that you felt they needed to do. stopped two referendums [that were] trying to ask taxpayers what they want. xpayer. Ten years they have stalled now. Because we now have very strong concurrenc abry.
way beyond what they are capable of handling. When we did the growth managem ent law in 2005, we put seven amendments on that as the Coalition for Responsible Growth. It was perfectly clear. If [the road] is failed, no permit. Right now, what we have in Hillsborough County, is a moratorium on 75 roads. How fees. So now what they are do You know it would be a lot easier not to blackmail the development and say Ant they know what that cost is. Bill, they know what the costs are. They refuse to put it out there. They refuse to listen. ecause then they are going to have to react to it. Do you know two years ago Kathy Castor, when she was sitting on the County Commission, supposedly a vision for 20 years. Build it out. I want to see what this county looks like if we actually took that comp plan and built it out. Bob Hunter had it ready a year ago. Jim Norman has refused to allow it in front of the Board of County Commissioners for over a year now; absolutely re fused to allow it on per house, on transportation alone. We need to increase the transportation impact fees. The real cost of a house is in the twenty thousands ve The inequity of the cost of new growth coming in, and them paying their f air share subsidize all the new growth. (Thumps table for emphasis.) We have now, as tax payers, s that will make them pay impact fees. basically put them on the spot at re zonings. I see them.
add a lane. Do this. Do now, is fix problems that were not fixed to begin with. We have created a taxed subsidized mess in growth in this state. WM: The tax subsidizes are subsidizing the developers? mean? It means it adds to their profit. My friend, when I found out that developers were making 40 percent p rofit 40 percent profit! They work. Everybody else gets an 8 10 percent profit margin. You get belo w forty projects. WM: Okay. Well, tell me about the Committee for Responsible Growth. DL: Coalition. WM: Okay, the coalition. DL: I know, we almost called ourselves a committee. What about it?
WM: Tell me how it got started. You talked earlier about linking up environmentalists and development people, but tell me about that, because it sounds like an interesting DL: Uhm. We want the bottom line is you should see my board. When I say hugging, tie themselves to a WM: [Chuckles] represent those f our, they also come from Plant City all the jurisdictions in Country, Keystone, City of Tampa, Ruskin, Wimauma, They are coming from all different perspectives. [They come] from different neighborhood perspectives, community perspectives and business perspectives. They are a micro cosmism of what is truly going in front of elected bodies, whether it is at the state level or the local level. t get people up in Tallahassee to talk to one another and kissing buddies right now. The hope is to hash this out through virtual conversations on e mail and come up with something everybody can live with. And believe it or not Oh Lord to be a fly on the wall at some of these conversations developers Blah Blah. other directly but they do get into it every once and a while. ow to go forward. I personally think we were very successful with the school impact fee issue that came up last year. We got right out in front on that issue. Go look at the paper I wrote on the suggestions on how to do the school impact fee, the various t verbatim. So they are listening. People out there are listening.
WM: Okay. The future historian who accesses this interview, where can they find the paper you wrote? n my website. I keep all papers, they just go into the little archive. You just go www.c4rg.com WM: Okay. And can you site other examp groups together? DL: Oh, in Tallahassee all of the time. WM: Okay. DL: All the time. I mean, we are on wetland issues, environmental issues, growth management issues. For example, not this session but the sessi on before, a bill trying to basis. They wanted a standard, across the board state impact fee. My paper originally said we would support something so you can go fr om one county to going to work this way. state mandated fee, the state is going to get the money. that because they are giving me industry secrets. But it helps me understand what the bigger issues [are]. ped kill it.
And believe it or not, through all of the e mails and all the discussions, somehow, every resp onsible growth. on something we know will work. WM: It would be interesting to see the environmentalists and the developers DL: Interesting e mails. WM: I can imag ine. at feeling is real. wrong. Tha And from a business perspective there are things the development community is asking sometimes run way too far we will support something to a point. But do I support the way they are doing it? Absolutely not. So we the people of Hillsborough County will have to take back our county, if we want doing what it is doing, with environmental protection, shutting out our voices, going against process [and] not If we let them get away with this we will never be able t o control this board again. And
WM: You said something earlier about, and if you want to comment on this you can, but with the coming election that people feel there is going to be more public involvement in governm ent? backyard, their street; if it touches their lives, they come alive. We have hundreds of hours we spend defending the community on a positive basis. Let that one littl Honey, that will be all over the newspaper. So every time you see my name in the paper positive way What I learned as a candidate is that only 10 percent of the people who vote have actually read a newspaper, [learned something from] TV, gone to a meeting [or can] remotely tell n. That means you have 90 percent of the voters blindly going into the polls. Blindly! I think the tax issue this year, people will not be happy. People are not happy. The aring it Put that together with trying to tear up our environmental protections and our planning WM: It is kind of frightening. history for your archives my friend. We need to come back in about a year after the next election and see what we do. (laughs) ked you about? DL: I guess hopeless, Bill. I think for the purposes of your research and your paper the public stopped engaging itself years ago. We did it. happen. But when we took civics out of our schools, when we
stopped teaching our kids civic pride, the American government; why you should vote, any other generation to be running to the polls when all they see and read in the enough to pay attention. (First you need their attention.) And then we have to educate them over the next few mo nths. seen it for years. something like that. of a corporation for growth management. to find like minded people, good people who want to change for the right reasons and not So stay tuned. WM: Okay. Well that sounds like a good place to conclude. And Ms. Layne, let me thank shared with me in thi s interview will be deposited in the Special Collections of the studying land use issues in the Hillsborough County area. DL: Well thank you. I am really honored the opinion. End of Interview