Title: Group B - Urban Policy: Urban Areas
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00004246/00001
 Material Information
Title: Group B - Urban Policy: Urban Areas
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Jake Varn Collection - Group B - Urban Policy: Urban Areas (JDV Box 89)
General Note: Box 19, Folder 1 ( Growth Management Conference - 1983 ), Item 8
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00004246
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text




Discussion Group Leader:

Mr. Allan Milledge

Discussion Group Recorders:

Ms. Dana Minerva

Ms. Dovree Broderson

Mr. Don Ashley

Rep. Tom Brown

Mr. William Bond

Senator Joe Carlucci

Mrs. Marjorie Carr

Mr. Don Crane

Mr. Mercer Fearington

Senator Roberta Fox

Mr. Seth Gordon

Mr. Billy Heller

Mr. Wade Hopping

Rep. Sidney Martin

Mr. Bob Martinez

Mr. Allan Milledge

Mr. Leonard Miller

Dr. Edgar Mitchell





















Bob Nabors

Robert L. Parks

Gordon Pfersich

David Pingree

Jerry Shaw

Raymond Sittig

Herrick Smith

Kurt Spitzer

Gerald Thompson

Lee Vause


















By Mr. Howard M. Landers


Florida's outstanding record of growth management policy and legislation is very
predominantly oriented toward the management of development of raw land and to
the protection of critical and valuable natural resources. None of us should
object to the valid premise that population growth natural and migratory is
of potential threat to valuable resources. However, there are strong implica-
tions in this approach that:

1. The pressures on undeveloped areas are through growth alone

2. Existing developed areas do not have a major role to play in absorbing
overall growth.

On the first, considerable pressure is exerted on undeveloped areas surrounding
our urban areas by households and businesses moving outward and vacating devel-
oped and often "worn-out" areas. Concerning the second, the established
infrastructure of our existing urban fabric has considerable capacity to absorb
additional population growth.

In order to be comprehensive and to achieve an efficient programmatic balance,
"growth management" activities need to look to our existing infrastructure and
the multitude of factors which affect urban conservation, rehabilitation and
redevelopment. Policies to discourage abandonment, and encourage maintenance
and reuse, must be sought at least as vigorously as those to protect the natural
heritage on which our future depends. In fact, the two should be inseparable.

Thus, the first major and encompassing issue is for the State of Florida to
expand the framework of growth management to achieve a comprehensive attitude
toward the disposition of human activities in the State. Once such a stance is
adopted, a great variety of causal relationships will unfold, reaching into many
aspects of governmental policy. Major issue areas include the following (not in
any order of significance).

o How will we maintain and improve our existing urban infrastructure -
streets/transportation, sewer, water, drainage, garbage, and in some cases,
electrical systems to not only provide adequate service but also achieve
at least parity with new development?

o How can we reduce/eliminate tax and service disparities which frequently
lead people and businesses to abandon central area municipalities for subur-
ban ones or unincorporated areas? This issue encompasses several others:

> Can we reorient our annexation policy to enable cities to grow and
thus better balance their tax base?

> Can we devise mechanisms and incentives to further reduce the
fragmentation of local government by intergovernmental coordination,
consolidation/merger, or new levels of local government?

> How can we rebuild central area educational services and schools as
well as other social services to make them as attractive as peripherial
area ones?

o Why doesn't Florida allow municipalities to exercise extraterritorial powers
over development and infrastructure?

o How can we overcome the problem that fragmentation of land ownership pre-
sents for central area land assemblage?

o How can we reduce the disparities between the availability and cost of real
estate financing in central areas versus suburban areas?

o How can employers be encouraged to invest and reinvest in inner city capital
plants to create job opportunities?

0 How can we reduce the reality or spectre of crime against persons in inner
city areas?

o What actions will improve the overall aesthetic and natural environment of
central areas to thus enhance the physical quality of life?

o How can we encourage homeowners and landlords to maintain and improve the
urban housing stock?

o How can we further reduce the social restraints placed on ethnic and racial
minorities and the negative effects that these have on maintenance of the
urban fabric?

S How can we encourage the "infill" development of passed-over properties in
urbanized areas?

S Do present growth management laws and regulations penalize central city



That there is a problem of disuse of our older urban areas or an opportunity to
accommodate considerable population growth within our existing urban areas is
probably best realized by an automobile tour. Select any of our major urban
centers Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and drive a circuitous cross-
section at random from suburb to suburb. In varying degrees, as you traverse
the older areas, you will encounter worn-out and abandoned commercial facili-
ties, deteriorating housing, obsolete factories, and passed-over plots of land.
It is very easy to locate crumbling or overloaded streets, bridges with weight
limits, old schools on small sites, and clues to worn-out sewer and water lines.
Unemployment, underemployment and educational deficiencies are less visible but
statistics can be correlated easily to the districts found on any visual tour.

Infrastructure: Whether in sound condition, or in some degree of dilapida-
tion, our urban infrastructure represents a fixed cost that, if properly
maintained and improved, can serve repeated generations and, in many cases,
serve more intense development than at present. In too many cases, our
local units of government have lacked the financial resources and/or desire
to properly maintain this investment that is worth billions.

Tax Disparities: That central cities often do not have the resources
results from two factors: Tax disparities are created by a number of
factors; and central cities have traditionally accumulated a higher level
of, even a regional responsibility for, public services. On the latter
point, because of their maturity, the central cities frequently provide
major cultural, entertainment, educational and recreational facilities that
serve a far larger hinterland. Most major libraries, zoos, auditoriums,
stadiums, speciality parks, et cetera, have originated in the central
cities but are utilized by a regional population that does not bear the
tax burden for their maintenance and operation. While progressive county
actions, such as in Dade and Broward, are changing this pattern, it is
still a strong reality. Tax disparities result from weak annexation powers
and the ease of establishing units of local government.

> Annexation: Florida has one of the weakest sets of annexation powers
in the United States. As a result, our local governments have not
been able to match service provision to the "organic" urban system.
Human service needs do not recognize municipal boundaries, nor do the
financial burdens become clearly split just because a city or county
boundary occurs. Suffice it to say here, that the financial ability
of central cities to respond to redevelopment costs is hampered by its
inability to encompass a naturally expanding tax base. Furthermore,
the problem is compounded by the attraction of "escaping" the central
or older city. Tax disparities entice households and businesses to
move outward rather than staying. They are, therefore, contributory to
underutilization of our fixed urban infrastructure.

> Local Government Reorganization: A revised annexation policy can
prevent some future fragmentation, but remedial action is required to
match governmental services and finance to the scale of the urban
milieu. The tax and service disparities discussed above are cast in
stone when there are in excess of 10, 20 or 30 municipalities in a
single county even a county as large as Palm Beach.

> Service Disparities: The aging process of our cities and populations
results in a deterioration of central area educational and social
service facilities which act as a further wedge in reducing utilization
of central area facilities. The State's countywide school system
greatly lessens the degree of this problem compared to other states.
Yet school boards are not flush with capital and typically respond to
suburban demands by building new facilities, which in turn, attract
more out-migrants, et cetera, et cetera. In most counties, recrea-
tional facilities are a municipal function and central cities find it
difficult to respond adequately. Other services follow similar
patterns with variations from county to county.

Extraterritorial Powers: Development disparities also exist in Florida
because our municipalities have lacked the power to control or even review
development occurring beyond their boundaries. Many states enable their
cities to exercise zoning and subdivision control and to provide utility
and other services in prescribed (usually by a radius) areas beyond their
boundaries. As a result, many of the cost incentives to abandoning central
areas can be reduced. This is also a natural prelude to a strong annexa-
tion policy.

Fragmentation of Land Ownership: One of the most difficult tasks facing a
developer in central areas is that of assembling land parcels that are
large enough and adequately shaped to support redevelopment. As sound and
great as it is, our private land ownership system does create considerable
problems for land assemblage. The problems are compounded by older street
and subdivision patterns which have also reduced the urban landscape to
numerous small parcels. Even in cases where land is totally deteriorated,
the time and costs of attempting to assemble a development parcel can
stifle even the most creative and well-financed developer. It is common-
place for the typical three to four-acre urban block to be owned in twenty
or more parcels. The owners will be scattered all over the country; many
parcels will be in estates or shared by heirs who cannot agree. It only
takes one hold-out owner to stop the acquisition of a suitable redevelop-
ment parcel. There has been some public response to this problem, but to
date it falls woefully short of the mark.


Finance Costs: While great strides have been taken in recent years to
reduce "red-lining" and other differential finance requirements in older
areas, problems still exist. Real estate loans in central areas are put
at a disadvantage by greater origination fees, points, insurance require-
ments, et cetera, than are required in newer areas. As a result, loans are
harder and more expensive to obtain for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Capital Reinvestment: Florida is seeking and receiving a variety of
industries and businesses from the "sunbelt" migration. Unfortunately,
most of these migrants are moving into raw land. They are being joined by
local businesses that are moving outward from the central city. One result
of these shifts is the reduction of physical accessibility to these new
jobs by the unemployed who tend to be located in the central city areas.
Another is the continued contribution to the decline of tax base for the
central city.

Crime: Whether real or perceived, the fear of crime tends to be greater in
older, central city areas and is frequently given as a reason for out-
migration. Florida is making concerted efforts in this field, so that it
only needs to be identified here as a major issue affecting redevelopment.

Aesthetics/Quality of Life: Improvements in the visual quality of our
cities goes hand in hand with the need for the quality of services. Decay
and deterioration produce aesthetic disharmony. But, even many economi-
cally viable sectors of our cities are cluttered with signs, flashing
lights and incoherent graphic communications systems. Open space and
landscaping are typically at a premium. Greater visual order is needed to
help attract activity inward.

Maintenance of the Building Stock: Our attitudes as a "trash-can society"
extend into our utilization of housing and other facilities. With proper
maintenance and occasional upgrading of equipment, most buildings would
last almost indefinitely. Instead, they are and have been deteriorating at
all too rapid a pace. In many respects, this process is a result of many
of the other issue areas cited above.

Ethnic Disparities: That "Liberty City" could occur in Florida, in this
decade, is a clear statement that this is a problem area affecting our
urban society and exacerbating the deterioration of our urban fabric. In
following the premise of this paper, solutions to this problem need to be
seen as related to growth management.

Infill Development: Bypassed sites often lie fallow for years for a number
of reasons: Zoning and other regulations; lending policies; inflated land
costs; ownership fragmentation.

Regulatory Disparities: There is some argument directed at existing
regulations, particularly the DRI process, that they discourage urban
redevelopment and/or infill. Should DRI thresholds be the same for a CBD
office building as a suburban office park? The central city environment
is clearly different from that of suburban/new land areas and should be
treated so for development management programs.


Many of the issues outlined above point toward options for achievement of the
basic objective of absorbing part of our projected population growth through
redevelopment. Serious rethinking about the finance mechanisms available to
local governments and the financial restraints created by fragmentation of local
governments certainly leads the list of where to start in looking for legisla-
tive and administrative solutions. The following are a few comments on an
issue-by-issue basis:

Infrastructure: Maintenance and upgrading of our basic movement and
utility systems are dependent upon financial resources and motivated
management/administration. The strides of Jacksonville in improving its
sewer systems and Miami/Dade's new mass transit systems are excellent
illustrations of local governments that have had the dedication to pursue
major infrastructural improvements. Both also have special governmental
organization units that are able to respond. Both also looked to federal
financial resources that are no longer as abundant as they were when those
efforts were initiated.

Governmental Fragmentation: Several states and the ACIR have excellent
models for improved annexation legislation. We have, in Florida, two of
the leading examples of local government organizational responses to
fragmentation: The Consolidated City of Jacksonville, and Metro-Dade.
Another model which merits very serious evaluation is the Metropolitan
Council of the Twin Cities Area. The Council is a "fourth level" of
government structured as a creature of the state at a level above the
cities and counties. Through it, functions have been reordered to corre-
spond with their appropriate level of service local versus area-wide.
The Council is also a good model in that it has been evolutionary and dealt
with relatively clearly defined metropolitan-wide issues. Governmental
restructuring in response to services and problems at a more organic scale
will go a long way to obviate the service and tax disparities referred to

Fragmentation of Land Ownership: Since Berman versus Parker and with the
inception of tax increment financing (TIF) our constitutional system has
upheld the use of eminent domain for redevelopment to be in the public
good. However, the acquisition of property using this mechanism can still
be a tedious process. Our TIF legislation needs to be built upon to give
cities better ability to overcome the land fragmentation problem. TIF is
also hampered by the governmental organization problems cited earlier.
Citizens of central cities would become reluctant to over-dedicate tax
dollars to specialized areas at the perceived risk of increasing the tax
burden elsewhere in the city.


Capital Reinvestment: The urban enterprise zone (UEZ) is the latest
concept proposed for attracting new employment to distressed areas.
Florida has passed enabling legislation, but the proposed federal legisla-
tion is needed to provide greater impact. The UEZ concept needs to be

Crime and Ethnic Disparities: These are long-standing issues to which
considerable attention has been given in recent years. All of you, who are
concerned about growth management, need to seek rapid improvement in these
fronts because they greatly affect the future of our urban areas. Both are
very broad scope issues that need to be pursued in their own right.

State Redevelopment Programs: With the recent declines in federal urban
redevelopment assistance and the "megatrend" toward greater state initia-
tive, Florida should be evaluating its own urban redevelopment financing
mechanisms. There is considerable history in the federal programs and some
state initiatives (most notably New York's Urban Development Corporation)
to provide solid direction as to the potential for success or failure.
Efforts in this area should concentrate on enhancing solutions to problems
discussed above, especially in the areas of finance, land assemblage, and
regulatory restraints. Both our Tax Increment Financing and Urban
Enterprise Zone legislation provide good directions.

Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act: The LGCPA, as the only
"growth management" legislation affecting older urban areas, could be
strengthened in this regard. The step to legislate mandatory local
planning was a significant one. The Act should be evaluated to strengthen
its effect on maintenance, rehabilitation and redevelopment. Jurisdictions
with older districts could be required to prepare redevelopment strategies
and policies as part of the mandatory elements list. The housing element
could be strengthened to place more emphasis on rehabilitation and redevel-
opment. However, any furtherance of the Act in this regard should be
accompanied by State financial assistance.


By Ms. Nancy E. Stroud

October, 1983


Local governments in Florida are compelled both by the

Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act and the realities of

rapid growth expected in the next decade to "guide and control

future development." The establishment of urban growth

boundaries can be a very helpful tool to effectively guide and

control future development. The boundary sets the outermost

perimeter of the area within which growth is to be guided, and

outside which urban growth will be discouraged. Used

effectively, an urban growth boundary can reduce urban sprawl;

promote the more efficient use of land, including the "infill" of

urban lands and redevelopment of existing urban areas; and

provide some certainty and predictability to the land development

process. Urban growth boundaries can also influence the process

of annexation and the service relationships of cities and


Florida cities and counties do not have long or well-

documented experience with urban growth boundaries, although at

present, Dade County, Orange County, Palm Beach County and

Sarasota County have delineated growth boundaries in their

comprehensive plans. In only one state, Oregon, have urban

growth boundaries been mandated to be part of the local planning

process. Oregon's experience provides some documentation of the

problems and opportunities that accompany the use of urban growth



Protection of Important or Sensitive Lands from Development

One function of an urban growth boundary is to protect

certain lands from premature development. Those lands of perhaps

most importance in Florida include agricultural lands and

wetlands. In fact, the protection of agricultural lands has been

the prime factor in establishing urban growth boundaries in Dade

and Palm Beach Counties. Urbanization in Dade County has

virtually wiped out the dairy industry once flourishing there and

threatens an active agricultural industry in south Dade County.

The potential loss of a primary economic resource, vegetable

crops, precipitated Palm Beach County's use of an urban growth

boundary. In the summer of 1983,. Orange County adhered to the

county growth boundary to deny a development proposed to locate

in important citrus lands.

Oregon's statewide planning goals require local

governments to establish urban growth boundaries particularly to

"identify and separate urbanizable land from rural land," with

the goal of such boundaries to be "to provide for an orderly and

efficient transition from rural to urban land use." The

protection of agricultural lands is butressed by an additional

requirement that all agricultural lands, defined specifically by

soil types, be placed in exclusive agricultural zones that permit

only agriculturally related use. The two requirements.are

complimentary, and can be viewed as the two sides of the same

coin that is the currency used to constrain unrestricted urban


The use of an urban growth boundary to protect

agricultural lands in Florida is somewhat more complicated than

in Oregon. Notwithstanding our lack of Oregon's techniques such

as exclusive farm zones and tax measures that further support

agricultural protection, important farmland in Florida is also

not as easily distinguished as in Oregon. In Oregon and other

states, farmland is identifiable by soil type or topography, but

because of the blessings of Florida climate, most land in the

state is suitable for agriculture. Identification of Florida

farmland is inextricably tied to that land's relationship to

urbanizing areas, which makes the use of an urban growth boundary

even more critical for protecting agricultural lands in the


Urban growth boundaries can also be used to restrain urban

growth from spreading into sensitive wetlands in the state.

Unlike farmland, wetlands are more easily identifiable by their

natural qualities. Saltwater and freshwater wetlands provide the

hydrologic functions that make an urban population in Florida

possible, by recharging groundwater aquifers and by purifying and

cleansing the water while recharging the aquifer, and providing

other natural and recreational uses. At the same time,

uncontrolled urban growth threatens the existence of those

wetlands, as urban populations outgrow existing areas and push

inland toward freshwater wetlands, or press to the coast

threatening saltwater wetlands. Recent judicial decisions

recognizing the importance of wetlands such as Graham v. Estuary

Properties can help support local government use of urban growth

boundaries to protect sensitive wetlands.

Providing Adequate Land to Accommodate Long Range Urban

Population in Compact Form

A principal goal of establishing an urban growth boundary

should be to provide enough land to accommodate projected urban

growth, including land for housing, commercial and industrial

areas, and the full mix of urban uses within the urban boundary.

Oregon's planning requirements explicitly recognized the need to

make available within the growth boundaries "sufficient land for

the various uses to insure choices in the market place," that is,

not to constrain the land market too tightly. This includes not

only making a suitable aggregate number of acres available, but

ensuring that the size of parcels and their location are adequate

to accommodate future growth needs. In fact, the requirement

that urban growth boundaries be based on such consideration of

industrial and commercial land needs has gained the land use

program some enthusiastic support by economic sectors that might

otherwise be expected to dislike the program.

Primarily, however, it is the housing industry that has

thrown its support behind urban growth boundaries. Housing

industry support in Oregon is the result of a basic trade-off

made in establishing growth boundaries in Oregon: the industry

has traded the ability to locate outside of urban growth

boundaries for the ability to locate inside the boundaries at

higher densities. It is important to note that urban growth

boundaries are used here not to limit growth, but to direct its

location and form. Local governments plan for sufficient land

within the growth boundaries to accommodate the projected housing

needs, which often results in higher density housing. Because

the lands within the growth boundaries can be planned with more

certainty to be provided with public services, the housing

industry also gains predictability in regard to the availability

of infrastructure. It is precisely this ability to provide

housing at higher densities and other types of uses within urban

growth boundaries that promotes more compact development and

prevents the urban sprawl that is characteristic of most Florida


Control of the Provision and Cost of Urban Services

The process of identifying areas that are appropriate for

inclusion within an urban growth boundary necessarily involves

the consideration of what areas should be served with urban

facilities and services. The drawing of an urban growth boundary

in Oregon assumes that the area within the boundary will be

served by those facilities and services; local governments are

then called upon to design the type, location and phasing of

public facilities to direct urban expansion within the


The proper planning for the timing and location of public

services and facilities should enable the local government to

control the cost of such facilities, and to achieve economies of

scale. The ability to plan for services with more certainty

should also support the more rational and equitable use of

"impact fees."

Cities and counties have attempted to guide growth through

the provision of public facilities for many years in Florida, as

in other states. However, recent court cases raise the question

of to what extent local governments as service providers can

require that growth follows services, rather than vice versa.

For example, the City of Boulder, Colorado, was prohibited from

using the provision of water as a controlling instrument to

protect its "greenbelt" area, outside its urban growth area, from

future growth. The 1976 Robinson v. Boulder decision typifies

traditional public utility law that requires that municipal

service providers follow growth, rather than guide growth.

Furthermore, the 1978 United States Supreme Court case of City of

Lafayette v. Louisiana Power and Light Company, indicates that

control of utilities may subject municipalities to antitrust

regulation. In both instances, a state policy that explicitly

recognizes the necessity to use public services to guide growth

within urban growth boundaries could support the local government

against such claims.

Intergovernmental Relationships

Establishing an urban growth boundary will have

significant intergovernmental effects, because a municipality's

growth may often exceed its jurisdictional boundaries. The

county and city's policies regarding the servicing of that growth

can differ significantly, and the appropriate location of that

growth may also be a subject of debate between county and city.

Anticipating those differences, the Oregon program requires that

cities and counties enter into a joint management agreement by

which they will establish a single boundary and consistent plan

for the area between the existing city boundary and the urban

growth boundary. The process of drawing the urban growth

boundary, and particularly the requirement for joint management

of the transition area outside the city boundaries, can help to

identify those conflicts between competing jurisdictions and the

means to resolve those conflicts. The results may also include

more rational annexations.


Given the issues associated with urban growth boundaries,

a number of questions and options can be discussed. These

include the following:



Most of the Florida experience that has received attention

centers on county efforts to establish growth boundaries.

However, cities have established and can profit from the use of

urban growth boundaries, as well. Some particular options would


a. Charter Counties: Counties with charters

may be the most effective to deal with the

intergovernmental aspects of urban growth


b. All counties: Non-charter counties have

shown some success in using growth

boundaries. Intergovernmental aspects in

these counties may be aided by memoranda of


c. All cities

d. Cities with particular geographic

characteristics such as those surrounded by

unincorporated and undeveloped areas, as

opposed to those cities that lie back-to-

back with other cities.

e. Regional planning councils: These planning

agencies might usefully apply the concept

to regional urban centers, or assist in

establishing urban growth boundaries where

intergovernmental coordination is needed.





The LGCPA requires local governments to prepare a future

land use element designating "proposed future general

distribution, location, and extent of the uses of land for

(various)...categories of public and private uses of land." The

urban growth boundary is one technique to assist in this

designation process. Like a future land use map, which has been

discussed as a possible necessary addition to comprehensive

plans, the urban growth boundary concept could encourage these

plans to be more specific than they have been in many cases.



Some of these planning considerations may include:

a. Increased urban densities.

b. Capital improvements programs.

c. Annexation.

d. Transfer of development rights.


By Mr. Ed Montanaro

Florida law establishes three procedures for annexation: (1)

special act of the Legislature; (2) petition by the owners of

100% of the land in the area to be annexed (voluntary

annexation): and (3) an electoral procedure requiring separate

approval of a proposed annexation in referenda held in the

existing city and another held in the area to be annexed (non-

voluntary annexation).l/

Florida's annexation statute is most frequently, although not

exclusively, criticized because of its restrictiveness. It is

more difficult for Florida cities to annex unincorporated

territory than for cities in most other states. There are two

major components of this criticism. First, with regard to

voluntary annexation, the requirement that all landowners

consent, regardless of the size or value of their holdings in the

area to be annexed, permits a single small landowner to frustrate

the wishes of the city and the vast majority of the landowners in

the proposed annexation area. Second, with regard to non-

voluntary annexations, the dual referenda requirement allows a

small number of residents in the unincorporated area to block

annexation because of typically low voter turnout attributable,

in part, to indifference rather than opposition to annexation.

Defenders of the current statute argue that these criticisms

are unfounded. In support of the requirement that all landowners

agree to voluntary annexations, they note that this requirement

is common in other states and that voluntary annexation is the

1/ Chapter 171, F.S. It should be noted that none of these methods is applicable
in Dade County since Dade's charter, iwich is embodied in the state constitution,
contains an annexation procedure and also contains a prohibition against the
use of other procedures. Therefore, no changes made in the state annexation
statute will have effect in Dade County unless the constitution is also changed.
Moreover, since Duval County contains no unincorporated territory, changes in
annexation procedures will not effect this county eiLier.

most common form of annexation in Florida despite the alleged

restrictiveness of this policy. Moreover, contend the

supporters, the provision prevents larqe landowners from

conspiring with municipal authorities at the expense of smaller


In support of the dual referenda requirement for non-

voluntary annexation, proponents of the current statute argue

that allowing voters in the area to be annexed to veto the action

is necessary to prevent municipalities from engaging in predatory

annexations designed more to enhance local revenues than to

extend urban services to, or manage growth in, the urbanizing

areas on their boundaries. The dual referenda requirement,

contend its supporters, forces a city to make annexation

economically attractive to the residents of the areas it proposes

to annex.


The proponents of annexation typically arque it has several

benefits. These include its ability to:

1. encourage orderly patterns of growth and land use;

2. insure efficient provision of urban services;

3. assure an adequate quality and quantity of public

4. insure the financial integrity of municipalities by
strengthening and broadening the tax base;

5. promote equity in the finance and delivery of local
government services; and

6. reduce governmental conflict and minimize governmental

Opponents suggest that such claims are exaggerated and offer a

number of reasons to resist the broader use of annexation.

Several arguments have widespread currency. These include the

view that:

1. annexation helps deprive residents of the governmental
control that smaller populations encourage;

2. annexation allows taxation of residents for services
that will be a long time in coming and which might be
more easily and efficiently obtained elsewhere;

3. annexation provides large city governments with the tax
base that enables them to provide services which are
largely unnecessary for the circumstances of most
suburban residents;

4. annexation provides a primary means of enlarging the
scale and scope of city government which sustain corrupt
and inefficient public management; and

5. annexation (unrestricted) deprives local residents to
choose meaningfully a place and a circumstance in which
to live.

Overall, a review of the evidence indicates annexation can

continue to be an important tool in resolving urban problems.

But its prospects vary by the developmental circumstance in which

a city finds itself. Table 1 describes the four major

developmental circumstances of Florida's cities with respect to

annexation. For central cities embedded in a fragmented

metropolitan setting, it is probably too late. For these cities,

the remaining uses of annexation are few; the potential benefits

slim. In other sorts of cities, however, the consequences appear

more beneficial.





1. Isolated Cities

One hundred thirty-one municipalities are located outside the
state's 18 metropolitan areas. Here time and circumstance
still hold out the promise that annexation might function as
many early planners had envisioned. For many of these
cities, it is still possible to capture peripheral economic
activity. Municipalities reasonably can expect to be the
dominant provider of urban services in areas largely devoid
of contiguous incorporations.

2. Emerging Central Cities

A few of Florida's central cities, such as Fort Myers, Cape
Coral, Bradenton, Sarasota, Gainesville, Ocala, Panama City,
Pensacola and Tallahassee, still have a realistic opportunity
to use annexation as a means of addressing metropolitan
problems. In these cases, aggressive central city annexation
policies or the fortunate legacy of the timing of
incorporation have left central cities without encircling
neighbors. It is still possible to realize many of the
benefits of extensive annexation.

3. Embedded Central cities

The prospect of extensive annexation by the central cities of
the state's largest metropolitan areas are dour. In
Pinellas, Palm Beach, Broward and Dade, central cities are
hemmed in for the most part. Annexation does not portend
metropolitan benefits under such conditions. Instead,
annexation has become a mechanism for addressing problems
between any municipality within the metropolitan area and an
adjacent unincorporated urban area, fringe, or enclave.
Further, it provides a significant means of dealing with
unincorporated enclaves.

4. Peripheral Cities

Finally, there are incorporated cities at the periphery of
most of the state's metropolitan areas that can even now make
extensive use of annexation. While the current distribution
of population ana employment would seem to belie their
importance as metropolitan centers, aggressive annexation
policies and the character of future urban development may
change this impression. Davie and Sunrise, to cite two
examples, have positioned themselves to become major cities
within the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood metropolitan area.

Isolated, non-metropolitan cities stand a particularly qood

chance of realizing benefits through annexation. Similarly,

emerging central cities should benefit from an annexation policy

that enables them to retain control over their economic market

area. The outlook is not as bright for the peripheral cities of

the state's more congested metropolitan areas. Here the

proliferation of governmental bodies, overlapping jurisdictions

and alternative service providers cloud the picture. Only by

greatly extending annexations could they hope to improve their

service provision efficiency, increase their tax base and enhance

the status of the city. Even large annexations would do little

to reduce service and fiscal inequities throughout the

metropolitan area.

Annexation can still be used to improve urban governance in

Florida. It is easy to claim too much on its behalf, however.

It is not a panacea. For a large number of cities in some of the

state's most populous areas, annexation policy has little

meaning. In other areas, a less restrictive annexation policy

might actually work against the interest of city residents or the

residents in the territory to be annexed. At times, it might

work to the disadvantages of existing service providers or

exacerbate regional fiscal disparities. These possibilities are

real, but they appear to pertain to less than a third of the

state's municipalities.

In most places annexation can help resolve some of the most

pressing problems of Florida's cities. In every developmental

circumstance, annexation will resolve the fiscal disparities and

spillover effects caused by the existence of enclaves and the

presence of ragged boundaries. Annexation will also prove

generally beneficial in cities not surrounded by incorporated

neighbors or other natural obstacles to growth. Specifically,

annexation can be expected to reduce spillovers, enhance service

provision and improve the fiscal situation.


Criticism 1: Approval of 100% of the
landowners for voluntary annexation
is too restrictive.

One means of overcoming this criticism is to reduce the

degree of landowner consent required for voluntary annexation. A

number of states have more lenient requirements for this sort of

annexation. Arkansas, for example, requires that a majority of

the landowners and land value in the area to be annexed be

represented in a petition for voluntary annexation. Louisiana

requires that only one third of the landowners and land value

consent to annexation, and South Carolina requires the approval

of seventy-five percent of the landowners and land value.

Criticism 2: The double referendum requirement
for non-voluntary annexation is too restrictive.

There are seven major alternatives to this provision of the

current law, some of which involve adjusting the existing law and

others represent major departures from existing state policy.

The major alternatives are:

1. single referendum;

2. modified referendum;

3. dual ordinance;

4. unilateral annexation by ordinance subject to state

5. unilateral annexation by ordinance within municipal
"reserve areas" subject to state standards;

6. administrative determination;

7. judicial determination.

Under the single referendum approach, the residents of the

city and residentss of the area to be annexed vote as a single

group and if a majority of those voting approve, the annexation

occurs. Since the number of voters in the city will generally

outnumber those in the proposed annexation area, and since city

residents typically vote in favor of annexations, the single

referendum approach can be expected to produce more frequent


The modified referendum approach is designed to: (1) prevent

voter indifference to a proposed annexation (which is expressed

by failing to vote) from being misinterpreted as opposition; and

(2) prevent a small but organized minority from blocking an

annexation by taking advantage of low voter turnout. Under the

modified referendum approach, annexations occur by municipal

ordinance unless overridden by the voters. A majority (or some

fixed percentage) of the registered voters (rather than those

voting) must vote "no" in order to prevent the annexation. For

example, if there were 1,000 registered voters in the area

proposed for annexation, and 10,000 registered voters in the

city, 501 "no" votes would be required in the annexation area and

5,001 "no" votes would be required in the city to prevent the


The dual ordinance method permits annexation, without

referendum, if both the board of county commissioners and the

affected city council pass ordinances to add an area to the city.

No referenda are required because voters in both areas have the

opportunity to express their feelings in such matters through

general elections.

Under a unilateral annexation-by-ordinance statute, cities

are allowed to annex areas (that have certain statutorily defined

characteristics) simply by vote of the city council without the

consent, and even over the objections, of those in the area to be

annexed. There are frequently (though not always) a host of

procedural safeguards required, such as a minimum number of

public hearings, notice requirements, a mandatory service

delivery plan which includes a timetable and a discussion of the

method of financing service extensions, and some sort of appeal

procedure. Additionally, the enabling legislation in these cases

usually contains fairly precise criteria for areas subject to

annexation by ordinance. Texas and North Carolina allow

unilateral annexation by ordinance.

An important variation of the unilateral annexation-by-

ordinance approach is to permit annexation by ordinance within

specific "reserve areas" established, for example, by agreement

between city and county governments for the purpose of future

annexation. "Reserve areas" would ultimately be annexed, more or

1 _

less automatically,-upon attaining certain urban characteristics

and upon demonstration by the city that services will be provided

in an orderly fashion. Prior to annexation, some degree of

extraterritorial jurisdiction over land use in the area could

also be provided.

The sixth major alternative to Florida's current method of

handling non-voluntary annexations is the use of some

administrative body to grant annexations. There are seven states

that use administrative determination to approve annexations:

Alaska, California, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, and

Washington. All seven states have appointed commissions that

handle annexations and, in some cases, other matters such as

consolidations, new incorporations, detachments, and extra-

territorial service delivery. In every state except California,

the administrative body is a separate state or regional agency

composed of members appointed by the Governor. In California

members consist of city and county officials appointed by their

governing bodies and one citizen member selected by the

governmental members.

The final alternative to Florida's current method of handling

non-voluntary annexations is judicial determination. This method

assigns the courts the responsibility for determining which

annexations should take place and is different from directing a

court to simply determine whether a municipality has complied

with certain statutory standards for annexation of a particular

territory. Arkansas, Mississippi, Virginia, and Kentucky (in

certain cases) all use judicial determination as one means of

accomplishing annexations. All of these states require the court

to make a judgement regarding the wisdom of particular

annexations within very broad state guidelines. Florida once had

a similar annexation method which was ruled unconstitutional in

1965. In that case (City of Auburndale v. Adams Packing

Association 171 So.2d 161) the Florida Supreme Court ruled that

.if the courts are to be used, the
legislature must clearly spell out the
conditions or factual issues that are to be
determined by the court, thereby restricting
the court to performance of a judicial

This decision, very likely precludes the use of a judicial

determination method of annexation in Florida by limiting the

court's role in annexation cases to fact finding and determining

compliance with statutory requirements.


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs