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Earth Power United States

America's First Eco-City: Doomed From the Start 258

An anonymous reader writes "Despite backing from the Clinton Climate Initiative, and a $111 million investment from Subway Restaurant mogul Fred DeLuca, a planned city for Central Florida called 'Destiny' was doomed from the start, according to memos retrieved from Florida's Department of Community Affairs. According to state officials, despite a great deal of hype about Destiny, Florida, becoming the first fully sustainable city in the U.S., plans to build the city were rejected almost immediately due to concerns over 'possible urban sprawl, energy inefficient land use patterns, the endangerment of natural resources, and the undermining of agriculture.'"
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America's First Eco-City: Doomed From the Start

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:14PM (#44304265)

    A lot of things get killed when they get in the way of this industry. Wasn't long ago Florida officials would show up at your house and cut down your citrus trees because of "undermining of agriculture".

    • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @12:39AM (#44305561)

      A lot of things get killed when they get in the way of this industry.

      It seems to me that the green movement only sees things one way. When environmental concerns are used to stop industry, thats stopping evil industry. But then when those same environmental concerns are used to stop their own poorly planned out project, its suddenly industry thats the bad guy again.

      Then they try to vilify specific right wing groups by name, such as libertarians and the tea party. Proof is on the same page as this post.

      • These arguments are hypocritical. If Florida really believed the shit they said to stop this development, then more than half the development in Florida would have never happened. But let's face it, Florida is a warm storage facility for dying people that most of us are hoping (secretly or not) will get wiped out by some sort of massive wave, and their primary exports are citrus (better from Mexico anyway) and bad legislation.

        I have nothing against vilifying specific groups by name, on either side, if they

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      I had a relative in Australia who was threatened with such a thing since he had a bit over a dozen different fruit trees but I think it was the Shire council. It never got as far as needing a lawyer but there were plenty of angry letters going back and forth for a couple of years and he had to get a few local orchard owners on side.
  • Doomed? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:14PM (#44304267)

    You had me at Florida.

    • Florida Man [], the world's worst superhero.

  • I'm good at Sim City. Obviously they hired the wrong guy for the job.

    • Man could I ever plan a city.... railroads for streets and super high density self enclosed terrariums with a fire and police on every block. Just watch the paycheques just keep coming in....
  • Am I the only one who first read the title as "America's First Eco-City: Domed From the Start"?

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:17PM (#44304299)

    The city should have been domed, then it might not have been doomed. With a domed city nobody can get away, then they have to stay and make it work, and the city isn't doomed.

    It is the logic of SciFi, it is the logic of the future.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:33PM (#44304399) Homepage

    EPCOT stands for "Experimental Planned Community of Tomorrow." It was supposed to be a town, not a theme park. Funny how these things go.

  • Regulation Death (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bagboy ( 630125 ) <neo&arctic,net> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:42PM (#44304429)
    The problem with trying any renewable/conservation experiment in a "real-world" scenario is that almost every angle is now covered by regulation. Green Groups/EPA/Agriculture/Neighborhood Groups/etc, etc. It's getting to the point that the only real way to test theories in a real world scenario is to buy a big Island, build your infrastructure and pay a bunch of people to move there. I think Blofeld may be able to help fund this though.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Or do it in China, maybe close to ten years ago now.
      I think it's a mentality now of not doing anything big. Trains a couple of decades behind Japan in 1968 and not much new infrastructure since Nixon. It's not a Green Groups/EPA/Agriculture/Neighborhood Groups problem since whenever big money is involved all of those get bulldozed over very quickly. Follow the money instead of blaming people without it.
  • Nice name (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ol Biscuitbarrel ( 1859702 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:48PM (#44304481)

    "Destiny," that's up there with Why, Arizona, or Idiotville, Oregon. I mean, a fully sustainable community blazing a path to the glorious Green future shouldn't have a name that makes you think about putting dollar bills in G strings, mkay?

    • And possibly a little confusing, too, considering that Florida has a city named Destin.

    • "Destiny," that's up there with Why, Arizona, or Idiotville, Oregon. I mean, a fully sustainable community blazing a path to the glorious Green future shouldn't have a name that makes you think about putting dollar bills in G strings, mkay?

      How else did you expect young people to work in such a middle of nowhere place?

  • Should have been named 'Fate'
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @09:22PM (#44304639) Homepage

    They allowed politicians to be a part of the process. Politicians know NOTHING about land use, management, etc.. Your city planner is a complete and utter moron when it comes to the job they have, city planning.

    None of the homes need to be larger than 850 sq foot. Making a city self sustaining is certainly possible if you do three things.

    1 - gather all leaders into one place.
    2 - Lock all of them in a big room with no windows.
    3 - let scientists and engineers do all the planning based on real data and real designs.

    Sadly most people are dumb as a box of rocks and believe they cant be happy without a 5500 sq foot mc mansion and at least 2 acres of Kentucky Bluegrass that requires 10 gallons per square yard a day in water. So eliminate the people as well, at least the dumb ones.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Odd that you pick exactly the wrong thing about land use for Florida. Florida certainly has no shortage of water; what it has a problem with is drainage. Keeping a high ratio of unpaved land to paved land (as 2-acre lots would do) is precisely what's needed. Planting anything thirsty is even better.

      A self-sustaining city is a bit of a joke anyhow, unless the "city" includes farms (both food and tree), steel mills, mines, the whole toolchain.

      • No, Florida does have water shortages. You're right that drainage into the aquifer is a problem, but droughts do happen, and wasting water on lawns, golf courses, and sugarcane doesn't help. There have been major wildfires caused by drought in Flordia -- remember those?

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Bah, what drought: some days it rains water, and some days it rains fire! No problem!

          But you can irrigate with non-potable water (and that's not uncommon in Florida) which really helps except in raining fire season.

      • by danlip ( 737336 )

        Florida does have a drainage problem but that doesn't mean there is not also a water shortage. Saltwater intrusion is a major problem because of the amount of water being sucked out of the ground by all the people living in the coastal areas.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Sure, but Florida also has the infrastructure to irrigate with non-potable water. You don't need to water your lawn with water pumped from the aquifer, and while it's the default to do so there are real financial incentives not to.

    • Simpson's did it. It didn't work.
    • How do you fit a family of four into 850sq feet?

      Most new construction in Colorado that I have seen is 3000 sq feet. Separate rooms for the kids, shared bath and separate closets

      I have seen old 1920's era homes in NYC and they suck. One bathroom for the entire house. Vey little closets. No family room.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        70% of the population on this planet fit's a family of four in 400-600sq feet.

    • by Q-Hack! ( 37846 ) *

      None of the homes need to be larger than 850 sq foot.

      So, when the population of earth doubles again, are we then to redefine personal living space at say 400 sq foot? Maybe we should all just accept our 1 sq meter per person now. Then what?

      At some point we are going to have to reduce the population of the planet. Either we do it, or mother nature will do it for us. Until then, I plan to live comfortably in a much larger house than what scientists think I should live in.

      Humanity will never accept an egalitarian life style. There will always be have and ha

      • Interesting calculations:

        Approximate population of the earth: 7 billion

        Average number of Americans per household: 2.58

        Total households per American norm: 2.7 billion

        Land area of Texas: 268,000 square miles

        If you divided the land area of Texas among those 2.7 billion households, each one gets approximately 3,000 square feet.

        In other words, if you factor out the land area required for things like roads, stores, offices, and farms, the entire population of the earth could be spread around an area roughly the s

    • People don't like living in shoeboxes. I would love to live in a sustainable estate or city, but if it meant living in a 850 sq foot shoebox then you can keep it. I don't need a massive house, but 850 sq feet would feel more like a jail cell.
      • My apartment is 640 square feet, and around here that's pretty spacious for one person. 850 square feet would be quite big. Why do you need so much space? Do you have a multi-person family, lots of pets, or is it just that you've become accustomed to spreading everything out?

        I'm not the only one who feels this way, either -- there wouldn't be such high demand for apartments in places like Manhattan (where many apartments are much smaller) if people weren't happy living in such spaces. There are a lot

    • 850 sq. ft? That's okay for one person, or a young couple that doesn't own anything yet, but it's cramped for anyone else. Oh, it might be okay for small people. But not the average 'merican.

      Speaking for myself, I'm not living in a city again until they abolish cars. Cars are what make cities suck.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is utterly unsurprising. Intentional communities with "vision" almost always fail. Most 60s communes failed. Many colonies failed, and not just because they were attacked by natives. Modern planned communities do a bit better, mostly because they stick to patterns learned the hard way. They don't have the staying power that "organically grown" cities do. To grow a city you need water, transportation, and people that think it's a good place for a city. Sometimes you can take a marginal place and

  • Dome Alaska has been around for a couple of centuries.

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:03PM (#44304867)
    It's interesting that this is the second story about a failed master planned eco-city [] in Florida this month.

    Full disclosure: I work for Nextera Energy. Parent Company of Florida Power & Light which this story references.
  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:17PM (#44305245)

    It looks like the primary problem was they had all kinds of big ideas, and utterly failed to hire anybody with any land-use planning or large-scale development experience to put them on paper in a language likely to be approved.

    Just like computer people have their own language and lingo when dealing with technology, so do government land-use officials when reviewing development plans. If your plans don't cover what they expect them to cover, fail to counter objections the planner is likely to have, etc., your proposed development is probably not going to be approved, no matter how meritorious.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:52AM (#44306117) Homepage

    What did you expect? It's a land development project in South Florida. There's a long, long history of scams in that industry.

    Also, the location sucks. From the rather vague map on their web site, it's south of Kissamee and due east of Brandon. There's about here. [] That's Indian Lake Estates, which, as you can see from the aerials, was supposed to be a large development with 300 city blocks. About 5% of the lots have houses. There's one area where houses were built along small canals, but the canals all dead-end, so there's no flow and they'll stagnate. Here's a street view. [] Nearby are remnants of other failed developments, a defunct Air Force base, and a a few modest farms.

    It doesn't look like "regulation" was the problem. More like "reality".

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva