Last month, two Treasure Island residents filed suit against the City alleging that the City intentionally failed to comply with comprehensive planning laws, known as the Community Planning Act or the CPA. If the lawsuit is successful, and I firmly believe it will be, it will stop increased density and increased height in Treasure Island, at least temporarily.
The lawsuit challenges the adoption of parts of the City’s Comprehensive Plan which is essentially the overall blueprint of what can be built in Treasure Island. In essence, when the City amended part of its comprehensive plan (the Coastal Element of the plan) the City knowingly refused to provide information required by the CPA to regulate future development affected by flooding and sea level rise.
As all of us who have lived in Treasure Island for awhile know, flooding like we recently experienced is relatively new. Big hurricanes caused flooding but a high tide and a storm in the Gulf never did. Whether climate change is man made or a natural cycle, those of us who live on the beaches are now faced with the consequences of rising sea levels.
In 2015, the Legislature amended the CPA to require municipalities like Treasure Island to “outline the principles that must be used to eliminate inappropriate and unsafe development in the coastal areas”. The purpose of the new provision also was intended to provide discounts for flood insurance for coastal residents, like us.
The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) suggested that the City postpone the legislation in order to get the information necessary to bring the City into compliance.The city refused to postpone the adoption.
Instead, the City, led by the City Manager Reid Silverboard, advised the Mayor and the Commission to adopt the legislation. At the meeting at which the Commission approved the legislation, I advised the Commission, in no uncertain terms, that the legislation did not comply with the statutory requirements of the CPA. The Commission ignored that warning and the lawsuit was then filed on behalf of Noel Johnson and Shelley Eckert.
The lawsuit challenges the adoption of parts of the City’s Comprehensive Plan which is essentially the overall blueprint of what can be built in Treasure Island. Because the City has no information (the statute calls it “data”) to support the legislation, we have filed a preliminary motion for sanctions against the City. If the court determines that our allegations are correct, i.e. that the City had no data,the City will have to pay the residents’ attorneys fees.
I’ll update this further after I take the depositions on Tuesday, September 27 of Reid Silverboard, the City Manager and Paula Cohen the Director of Community Improvements. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask, just click on the contact link or at firstname.lastname@example.org