Can Florida's Legislative Standard of Review for Small-Scale Land Use Amendments Be Justified?

By Appleman, Bernard R. | UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Can Florida's Legislative Standard of Review for Small-Scale Land Use Amendments Be Justified?


Appleman, Bernard R., UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


ABSTRACT

This article examines the legal justification and practical application of recent Florida Supreme Court decisions classifying all comprehensive plan amendments as legislative decisions and all other zoning changes as quasi-judicial. The author outlines historical trends and concerns relating to the appropriate standard of judicial review for zoning actions, followed by a review of the evolution of the statutes and case law in Florida. The article challenges the standard of deference for legislative review of zoning actions based on separation of powers and due process. It also identifies inconsistencies in Florida case law and inequities in local government processes for reviewing small-scale amendments and rezonings. The article concludes that classifying all amendments as legislative is not adequately reasoned or justified and leads to inconsistent and inequitable results. In addition, it provides recommendations for legislative reform.

CONTENTS
I.   INTRODUCTION
II.  BACKGROUND
     A. Zoning and Comprehensive Planning
     B. Standards for Judicial Review of Zoning Decisions
        1. Classifying Zoning Decisions Based on Effect on Policy
        2. Decisions and Commentaries on Classifying Zoning Decisions
        3. Procedure for Challenging Zoning Decisions
     C. Zoning Practices and Abuses
        1. Examples of Abuses and Deficiencies
        2. Comment from Courts on Abuse
        3. Commentaries on Alternative Standards of Review
III. FLORIDA LAW FOR PLAN AMENDMENTS AND REZONINGS
     A. Administrative Procedures for Amendments and Rezonings
        1. Amending a Comprehensive Plan
        2. Special Requirements for Small Scale Amendments
        Table 1: Differences Between Standard and Small-Scale
        Amendments
        3. Comparing Small-Scale Amendments and Rezoning
     B. Florida Supreme Court Decisions Affecting Standards of
        Review for Rezonings and for Plan Amendments
        1. Snyder Functional Analysis Test for Classifying Zoning
           Decisions
        2. Yusem Holds that Comprehensive Plan Amendments are
           Legislative Decisions
        3. Courts' Applications of Snyder and Yusem
        4. Coastal Extends Bright-Line Rule to Small-Scale Amendments
IV.  ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATIVE STANDARD OF REVIEW FOR SMALL-SCALE
     AMENDMENTS
     A. Challenging the Legislative Standard of Review for Zoning
        Actions
        1. Local Governments do not Provide True Separation of Powers
        2. Legislative Decisions Lack Due Process
        3. Balancing the Efficiency of the Legislative Review Standard
           Against the Potential for Abuse
     B. Inequity and Lack of Consistency in Classifying Small-Scale
        Amendments as Legislative Decisions
        1. Small-Scale Amendments, Unlike Standard Amendments, Are
           Not Policy Requiring the Fairly Debatable Standard
        2. The Adoption Processes for Small-Scale Amendments and
           Rezonings are Similar, but their Classifications Differ
        3. Classifying all Rezoning as Quasi-Judicial is
           Inconsistent with Snyder's Functional Analysis
        Table 2. Classification of Zoning Decisions from Florida
        Supreme Court Opinions
        4. The Yusem-Coastal Rule is not Consistent with the
           Statutory Differences Between Small and Large Scale
           Amendments
V.   CONCLUSIONS
        A. Small-Scale Amendments Are Not Policy
        B. Land Use Action Classifications are Inconsistent and
           Conflicting
        C. Lack of Procedural Due Process Is a Concern for Local
           Land Use Decisions
        D. The Court's Reasons for the Fairly Debatable Standard
           are Not Convincing
        E. Recommendations for Legislative Reform

I.

INTRODUCTION

To rezone a 1.3 acre plot from residential low-density to commercial community-general, the City of Jacksonville exercised a state-mandated two stage process that entailed reviewing policy implications and submitting a copy of the proposed change to a state agency.

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