David Dunn-Rankin

David Dunn-Rankin

“Honey, what are all those cars doing at our new neighbors’ house? Are they having a party?”

“No, sweetie, our new next-door neighbor is an adult entertainment business.”

“Wait, what? How can they do that? Call the mayor.”

“Sweetie, I already did that. The mayor says it is out of his and the city’s hands. The state legislature passed a law this last session prohibiting cities and counties from regulating home-based businesses. It’s part of a “make Florida at the forefront of freedom” philosophy of the current Republican party in Florida.

“We can’t do anything?”

“We can move.”

Perhaps this scenario sounds far-fetched. Surely those people in Tallahassee wouldn’t pass laws usurping local zoning rules? Actually, the current top-down mandate-heavy Republican party in Florida would.  

These Tallahassee Republicans don’t care about local rule and local zoning.  Big government centralized authority Tallahassee knows best. Our hundreds of local governments are to be overridden wherever possible by the central authority in Tallahassee.

“Honey, what’s going across the street where the Johnsons used to live?”

“Oh, that’s a retail carpet store. They figured buying a house on our quiet cul-de-sac was cheaper than a building on US 27.”

“They can’t do that?”

“Sure, they can. It’s part of the current Tallahassee Republicans “showing that Florida is open for business — all business.”

“The Republicans in Florida voided our local zoning rules and in their place, put no rules on what any business can sell, or how much of the house has to be used for residential versus business?”

That’s right honey.  It’s all about freedom and rights for businesses over the interests of community.”

“What can we do?”

“Sell our house at a big loss and move.”

Most of us understand that Ron DeSantis is running for President. That he is pursuing and pushing a narrow agenda that a minority of Florida and America wants — but which reflects the majority of the current Republican party.

But why does the Republican party want no rules on home-based businesses? Why does the Republican party want Tallahassee setting local zoning and business regulation?

Florida was originally founded and built on a traditionally conservative small government view called home rule. A conservative Democratic Governor and State Legislature recognized that state government should not try to meddle in local affairs.  Stop signs, speed limits, zoning, levels of government service, and municipal budget decisions are clearly best left at the local level. Right?

Think of city and county home rule as a free market of ideas and rules. Don’t like the rules in Clermont, move to Mount Dora.  Don’t like the zoning in Avon Park, try Lake Placid. The theory is communities should be able to decide for themselves what kind of local rules and zoning serves them best.   

Almost all us understand the simple concept — one size does not fill all — whether it is clothes or local regulations.

Unless you are a current Republican state legislator or Ron DeSantis. Then, a centralized government, top-down rule is the best model for Florida. In the last three legislative sessions, over 100 preemptive bills trampling home rule were enacted by the Republican state legislature.

Is this new Florida Republicanism, self over community, really the best model to build desirable small-town living?

Share your thoughts.


Recommended for you