Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
How 1000 Friends Selects Legal Cases
July 2019 Update: On June 28, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7103, which includes a provision subjecting anyone who challenges a development order as inconsistent with a comprehensive plan and loses to pay the legal fees of the winner. 1000 Friends’ Legal Advocacy Committee will be compelled to consider this significant new financial risk in weighing whether to file such consistency challenges. This new factor could lead us to revise or supplement the questions we ask to determine whether or not to initiate or join legal action.
When 1000 Friends of Florida was established in 1986, the Board of Directors felt the organization should serve as a vigilant “watch dog” over Florida’s fledgling growth management process. We recognized that there would be legal challenges to overcome and disputes to resolve with regard to the implementation of Florida’s 1985 Growth Management Act and other legislation guiding growth and development in the state.
Over the years, 1000 Friends of Florida has successfully intervened in numerous precedent-setting cases to establish an impressive body of case law to guide growth management in Florida. We do not undertake litigation lightly, viewing it as a measure of last resort. Before deciding to enter into this legal arena, 1000 Friends’ Legal Advocacy Committee reviews any and all options to avoid litigation. This Committee is comprised of a mix of attorneys and civic leaders familiar with Florida law, growth management, environment, and public policy.
If the Committee determines that litigation may be the most appropriate option, it then addresses a series of questions to decide whether it is appropriate for 1000 Friends to be involved:
- Does the case in question address a public interest?
- Does the case have local, regional, or state significance?
- Will the case have a significant impact on the state’s growth management laws or the future enforcement or administration on a statewide basis, or in a particular geographic area?
- Can 1000 Friends better present the needed arguments in the case than the parties currently involved?
- Is there a need for the expertise and assistance of 1000 Friends?
- Does 1000 Friends have the necessary resources and expertise to participate?
- Would this case further or diminish 1000 Friends’ overall and long-range purposes?
- How important is this case in light of 1000 Friends’ other priorities for litigation?
Once these issues have been carefully discussed, and if the Legal Advocacy Committee recommends moving forward, it presents its findings to the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee, providing yet another opportunity for careful review of the case’s merits. Only then will 1000 Friends formally take appropriate action on behalf of the Board. Normally, 1000 Friends remains ready to negotiate a resolution to the case during the entire process.
As a result of this careful and considered effort, 1000 Friends has been party to some of the most significant growth management and property rights cases in Florida. Through its long and deliberative history of legal activism, 1000 Friends of Florida has brought about meaningful improvement to the sensible management of Florida’s growth.