Why The Miami Herald Should Go Back To Publishing Beach Reports

Lack Of Journalism Standards At The Miami Herald ImageThe Miami Herald recently published a shoddy piece of marketing, er journalism, that demonstrated yet another reason that people are moving away from newspapers as their primary source of local information.

In its Wednesday article, Despite foreclosures, lawmakers push for more development, the Herald managed to stitch together two pages of rhetoric and attempted to pass it off as a researched news story. This is another unfortunate example of the press trying to negatively influence the beliefs of its readers, and this article is being exposed for what it is. Rubbish.

In a nutshell, the article is about changes being made to Florida's growth management laws and the bias of the article is demonstrated in the opening paragraph and headline which implies that our housing problem (foreclosures specifically) are the direct result of the easy process for developers and home builders who wish to build more homes.

Before I proceed further, let's get my bias "out on the table." I am a real estate broker and real estate investor. I am a proponent for the real estate industry and I believe in smart growth management. I believe in sensible conservation, and I also believe in property rights. Ultimately, if somebody wants to steal or curtail the rights of another, then I believe that compensation is due to the harmed party (more on this later).

Why Some Newspaper Reporters Don't Do Their Homework

I understand that a reporter has to take a topic and make it sizzle if he hopes to sell newspapers and protect his livelihood. Unfortunately, the reach of newspapers is so great that many readers do not know the difference between well-researched journalism and hype-based propaganda designed to appease the largest supporters of the newspaper. Perhaps this is a role of the lowly real estate blogger, to step forward and clarify on a topic when a piece of shameful journalism is exposed.

Examine The Qualifications Of The Writer

While I have 21 years of experience in the real estate brokerage business in Florida, I am by no means a subject-matter expert on growth management. I point this out that while I have a far stronger background on this topic than does the writer for the Miami Herald, the reader should endeavor to formulate his or her own conclusions, and understand that my point comes from my limited experiences and my bias is towards the source of my income (real estate sales in Tallahassee).

If you want a very detailed analysis of growth management policy, or if you are a concerned citizen and wonder why housing costs are so high, this is a well written paper worthy of your attention. You can download Randy O’Toole’s Growth Management Policy Analysis paper in it’s entirety right here.

Summary Of The Miami Herald Article

In order to keep this post from being way too long, here are my observations, briefly stated as bullet points, that summarize the article in the Miami Herald:

  1. Florida has too many homes sitting empty, we should not build more.
  2. More homes will be built because it will become easier for builders and developers to build them under the proposed changes to the growth management laws.
  3. These changes would make it tougher for advocacy groups to challenge development plans.
  4. These changes would make it cheaper and easier to plow under rural and open land.
  5. Governor Scott wants to "all but dismantle the state's growth management agency."
  6. It's a developers Christmas list ... on the changes to growth management.

While there were many more words glued between the six points I summarized above, the article is a criticism of the proposed changes to growth management, with a bias towards developer greed guiding the changes. The funny thing about all of this is that I basically agree with many of the points above, it is the bias on the article which totally changes the ability of the reader to form his or her own view.

Real Estate Blogger Response To Miami Herald Article

My take on this article is that the reporter jammed together a few quotes and tried to make a story out of it. The impact on the changes to growth management is a complex and important topic for citizens in the State of Florida, and I would rather have seen a researched article that addressed these additional issues:

  1. Is there a State that has a better comprehensive land-use plan that we could be mirroring? The article presumes that easier development will mean more homes will be built. This is ludicrous. What builder/developer wants to build homes in a market where they will not be sold? I say let market supply and demand determine what a property owner chooses to do. I agree that there are way too many homes in Florida, but this is because of the way we force developers to forecast, not because our development standards are too easy. Additionally, who are we (who have our homes) to tell another property owner what he can do (all of you conservationists just hold on, I'll address your concerns in a moment :)).
  2. There have been numerous studies which concluded that the difficulty in obtaining the rights to develop and build in Florida was one of the greatest reasons (causation) for the over-building that ensued. If a builder or developer did not have to jump through so many hoops in order to commence construction on a project, it has been shown that they would be able to respond to market inventory changes in a much more responsive fashion.
  3. If a builder or developer (or any property owner ... like YOU or ME) wants to do something on property they own, which is zoned for the property they want to develop, the cost of opposition to this development should be completely born by the opposers. We have run the cost of real estate so high in Florida because people have the right to delay development (solely because they don't want it in their back yard), even though it complies with its property use designation. Ultimately, this additional cost of development means that smaller developers don't have the money to develop, and the larger developers can operate with fewer competitors. All the additional costs for this monopolistic situation flow down to the consumer, which is you and me when we want to buy a home.
  4. Conservation laws should be strengthened and built right into the changes to the growth management rules. If a property needs to be re-designated, then the property owner should be compensated by the State for reducing the value of the land. The profit potential for development should be paid to this property owner for taking away his property rights. I am "all for" keeping Florida pristine, I just believe the cost should be born by Floridians, not solely by the property owner.
  5. When the Miami Herald states the proposed changes "make it cheaper and easier to plow under rural and open land," it is implying that this is not a current right of the property owner. Are we just going to start going around telling everybody that we are changing what they can do with land that they already owned, purchased with certain rights and opportunities? What if this land is owned by a family who purchased it thirty years ago as their retirement plan?
  6. The Miami Herald believes that Governor Scott wants to "all but dismantle the state's growth management agency." I do too. It's not working. We have 1.5 Million vacant homes in Florida and even our conservationists don't like the way things are working. Both sides to this issue appear to be unhappy, I suspect this review was far overdue.

In summary, I am no expert in growth management, but I have worked with builders and developers since 1991 and theirs is not an easy lot. We should take the time to review our Comprehensive Land Use Plan and contrast it with other State's plans, specifically Texas which seems to be doing far better than the rest of us. There is a sensible solution to both reducing the cost of home ownership in Florida as well as preserving the wonderful nature of our State.

Joe Manausa Real Estate is a brokerage company headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida. Its unique business model provides specialists to both home sellers and home buyers, and the results speak for themselves. JMRE has significantly more 5-star reviews on google than any other local competitor. Joe Manausa Real Estate is a leader in internet marketing and utilizes search engine optimization, email marketing, social media and data analytics to get their clients’ home sold faster and for more money than any other Tallahassee brokerage firm. For more information, visit www.manausa.com or call us at (850) 366-8917.


#1 By Joe Manausa, MBA at 7/11/2017 3:46 AM

Thanks Petra. This was just a really poor job by the Miami Herald.

#2 By TODO at 7/11/2017 3:46 AM

"...seizes to amaze me".
Dear God.

#3 By Joe Manausa, MBA at 7/11/2017 3:46 AM

you have seized my attention.

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