Some people thought that once they fixed the voting machines in Florida, election concerns would vanish. They were wrong. A petition drive in the Sunshine State would place a proposal on the Nov. 2, 2004, ballot adding an amendment to the state constitution. If approved, any change to local growth plans would go to the voters, who would have to give their blessing before building could proceed.

Land-use decisions that now require a few months could be delayed for as long as two years if the proposal passes, warned an editorial in the Florida Sun-Sentinel, noting that "last year, Broward County and city land-use plans were amended 40 times, and Palm Beach County and city plans were amended 1,500 times, often for minor, technical, housekeeping reasons."

As of late summer, the group behind the ballot initiative, Florida Hometown Democracy, had collected only about 5,500 signatures toward the 500,000 needed to get the proposition on the ballot. But environmental groups, notably the Sierra Club, recently entered the fray and started to mobilize their members to support the amendment.

An NAHB analysis of the economic impact of home building in Florida found that the 10,600 single-family permits issued last year in the Jacksonville area represented the creation of 26,000 full-time jobs, $841 million in wages, and $450 million in combined federal, state, and local revenues and fees.