Thursday, April 20, 2006

Courage in Miami -- holding the line on the urban boundary

In narrow votes, the Miami-Dade County Commission decided to reject eight out of nine proposals to expand the Miami Urban Boundary to include more of the surrounding countryside, the Miami Herald reported today.
Those opposed to moving the line -- a hodgepodge of environmentalists and activists that eventually garnered support from Gov. Jeb Bush and state regulators -- hailed Wednesday's votes, which capped off more than a year of fighting a well-funded and politically powerful building industry.

''I think we're all kind of feeling like we're in a dream,'' said activist Jamie Furgang of Audubon of Florida. She said that while the activists and community groups loosely assembled under the Hold the Line campaign had also fought the Hialeah application, she considered it ``one of the less egregious ones.''
Beth Dunlop explained the importance of this vote in the Herald a few days earlier:
There are numerous reasons to hold the line as sacrosanct. It is in some ways a boundary not just between city and country but between reason and insanity. Many people innately understand the need for farms, for the rural landscape, for keeping density where it belongs (in urban areas)....

As suburbia sprawls farther out past the suburbs, more than just the earth is turned, and as it happens here, it is also happening all across the country. For many farmers, the last cash crop is sticks and mortar, a subdivision rising where once seeds were sowed. Where once there were modest, elegant farmhouses now rise giant McMansions sitting on far too much concrete. There is much at stake here, from the food grown with care by families rather than corporate entities to the loss of the land and the landscape, of a way of living, a way of being, a way of seeing. And in the doing, we are destroying irreplaceable ecosystem and demolishing some of the most picturesque (and environmentally important) of our rural and natural landscapes - those very landscapes that propelled us from being a country of small colonial settlements to a nation of pioneers and explorers, a nation that stretched in reality as well as in verse and song, from sea to sea. Where the land is beautiful or desirable, the situation is at its most acute.
The vote has national and even global interest and importance, partly because many cities face similar choices about rationalizing development of the surrounding landscape, and partly because the Everglades beyond Miami's border is the whole world's heritage.