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Every now and again consolidation comes up and I have to say I remain opposed. The unique towns and cities of Orange County stand to gain very little and to lose a lot of what makes them special through consolidation (Winter Park and Winter Garden, for example, are very different places, but both amazing.)

A merger between Orlando and OC is likely to sacrifice the progressivism of the city as conservative voters from the county would have a voice in the city's business. There's a reason that, more than 15 years after OC began to inch closer to a strong mayor form of government, it's still a timid mouse compared to that of the City of Orlando (even though Florida counties have infinitely more resources and powers than our cities do.)

I also liked the mention in the Strong Towns article about schools. People used to do anything to live close to their neighborhood schools. Now, as we've seen most recently with the ongoing battle over a new high school in the Horizon West area, they'll do almost anything to get away from today's warehouses for kids. Another separate piece of that is the architecture: when's the last time a school was actually attractive like Princeton or Kaley Elementaries or Howard or Lakeview Middles?

There are definitely issues in our unincorporated areas (East Orange, for example, is more than twice the population of Orlando but its de facto representation is a single county commissioner.) A better solution, imho, is something like Broward County did a few years back to require all dense areas to be incorporated into new or existing cities. Cities exist for a reason and are still the best way to handle diverse populations living together.

A compromise to consider is consolidation of various departments. Even here one has to wonder. Again, architecture tells us much about what's valued. Compare the new OPD or OFD Station 1 "The Big House" with anything at OCSO or OC Fire and Rescue. Does anything in the county show the same level of pride?  The exceptions were the courthouse which we got from Linda Chapin, famous (or infamous, depending on your politics) for her detente with City Hall and OCCC, which was driven purely by Harris Rosen and the tourism industry, most of whom would like to build a wall at Conroy Rd and become the latest version of RCID but with no accountability to anyone but themselves.

Other suggestions have mentioned things like planning and zoning, but, if the devil is in the details, aren't those the very places where the nuts and bolts processes make the decision makers' policies become real?


Edited by spenser1058
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