This page is intended to be a resource for our constituents to see the policies we have accomplished and those are we continually working on.

Above all, responsible land use is environmentalism. As sprawl continues to create traffic, isolate communities, and more, we are fighting for good land use practices. Schools, roads, parks, police, and fire should be able to handle new residents before the new subdivisions come. We are fighting for this every day.

What we have done

Public Health and Animal Rights

  • On June 22, 2021, the Board of County Commissioners passed an ordinance banning retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in Orange County. Often, the sale of these animals is fraudulent, predatory, and cruel.
  • Many of the stores which sell these animals do not vet their providers and source their puppies from unethical puppy mills out of state. Several stores which sold puppies in Orange County sourced animals from mills and breeders on the Humane Society’s “Horrible 100 List.”
  • Additionally, these puppies may be sold for exorbitant prices and may be sick, often only allowed to see the store vet for the first two weeks. While the vet may still care for the animal, the consumer’s rights under Florida’s Lemon Law expire. So, not only are consumers left heartbroken with sick puppies, but they are scammed.
  • I was honored to help champion this ordinance and then defend it in front of Ocoee in October of 2021, while they granted a special exception for a store in their municipal boundaries.

Food System Resiliency

  • While we are working towards an ordinance allowing a certain percentage of yards to be edible landscaping, we were able to pass another means to the end goal of food system resiliency in August.
  • On August 10, 2021, the Board of County Commissioners passed an ordinance allowing up to 4 hens per household in an effort to localize and strengthen food systems. As we have seen throughout this pandemic, our supply chain is fragile. Having more food locally is critical to ensuring public health and wellbeing.
  • Find out how the ordinance may affect you and your neighborhood here. To get a permit, one must take a class offered by UF/IFAS, follow coop building guidelines, and have only hens (to avoid the cuckoo of roosters).
  • Pro-Smart Growth
  • When Case # PSP-20-12-353 came to the Board, I moved to deny it on the grounds of irresponsible development. In the process, I was out-voted by fellow Commissioners who do not know District 1 and it became apparent that many Commissioners are unaware of how our development process works.
  • When this development, Case # CDR-21-03-091, came before us, I recognized the opportunity for smart growth. This development was already approved for 300 multifamily units and 300 timeshare units. The question before us was to re-configure the timeshare units to be multifamily, for a total of 600 multifamily units near US 192. My hope is that this will be used as essential workforce housing.

Bold Goals for Conservation

  • On August 10, 2021 I voiced my concerns for the way we value environmentally sensitive lands.
  • It has been priority number one in my office to increase the amount of conservation lands owned by Orange County. While GreenPLACE has existed for decades, it has had no meaningful acquisition until September 28, 2021.
  • In the Consent Agenda:
    • We officially established a GreenPLACE Advisory Board (Item F-1)
    • We purchased 24 acres between Lake Pickett Rd and Econlockhatchee River located at 14655 Lake Pickett Rd, Orlando, Fl 32820. It will provide water protection, aquifer recharge, floodplain storage, closes gaps between other publicly owned lands and enhances existing wildlife corridors. This is in District 5. (Item C-16)
  • In the budget, we set aside $100 million for conservation land acquisition over the next ten years.

Energy Efficiency

  • On September 28, 2021, the Board discussed the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) Program. CPACE helps commercial businesses move towards solar power and other renewable energies by offsetting infrastructure costs.
  • We initially had this work session on June 8, 2021 to direct staff to come up with a C-PACE program which provides additional options to finance and repay the costs associated with installing energy efficient appliances on a property. 
  • Due to concerns about small business accessibility to CPACE funding opportunities, I voted against the proposed CPACE ordinance. I deeply believe in this program as an opportunity to expand potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy, but if we do not allow small businesses to tap into that potential, it will not be successful.
  • I look forward to this ordinance coming back when it meaningfully helps our small business community.

Improving Access to Healthcare

  • By adopting the Local Provider Participation Fund Resolution, Orange County helped local hospitals offset the cost of treating uninsured patients. Due to Florida’s lack of Medicaid expansion, Florida hospitals and taxpayers pick up more of the bill for healthcare in uninsured individuals. Everyone deserves high quality, affordable care and hospitals should be able to provide it.
  • This resolution allowed the hospitals to offset the cost through their own self assessment mechanism. This reduces the financial burden on hospitals to allow them to focus on care.
  • Learn more here

Wetland Protections

  • At nearly every Board of County Commissioners meeting, we have seawall permits. In the same breath, we have wetland impacts before us for a development. Each time, I insist that the Board connect the dots between pavement, flooding and erosion.
  • For Case # CDR-21-02-038, we had a case where a subdivision received on-site mitigation for its wetland impacts by preserving 44+ acres. The platting did not allow for riparian rights, or ability to build a dock, over the conservation area. Ultimately, although I explained that the County is not and should not be responsible for fulfilling developers’ false promises to their future residents moving from other states, the other Commissioners overrode my vote.
  • When Commissioners who have never been and will never go to your district yet are willing to override your vote, it makes the intention of having a District Commissioner obsolete.
  • It is too easy for developers to get permission to build on areas before we can even tell whether the land should be protected.
  • Furthermore, we began updating our Wetlands Code on December 14, 2021. This was the first step in the process which is anticipated to end July 2023. We started by reviewing our existing ordinance. I voiced my concerns with the way we apply our current language in wetland protection, define classifications, review our development process, and more.
    • Nature has no legal rights, and it is not able to tell us that it is being harmed. Due to this, we often do not know something is wrong until people start getting hurt. It needs to be protected and advocated for.
  • To fight this, please continue to show up and make your voices heard. All Commissioners respond to public pressure.

Protections for Bird Island in the Butler Chain of Lakes

  • On October 19, 2021 the County held its first stakeholder meeting to protect Bird Island in the Butler Chain of Lakes.
  • I have championed this issue since coming into office. While we are moving the process forward, please stay engaged throughout the coming Work Sessions and Public Hearings.
  • Bird Island/Egret Island has seen fatalities, noise concerns, pollution, and bird habitat destruction due to illicit activities such as trespassing, defecation on the island, and unregulated usage of the swimming and anchoring area surrounding the island.
  • The proposed ordinance creates a vessel exclusion zone surrounding the island to prevent unsafe and illegal usage of the island. Safety concerns range from broken glass to vessel collisions. Furthermore, the island is not for public use. It is a designated bird sanctuary.
  • Please find the draft ordinance here and the Briefing Sheet from staff here.

Where we want to go

Tree Protection Ordinance

  • We want to work towards a stronger tree protection ordinance which values preservation of valuable tree species, incentivizes preservation of as many trees as possible and creates tighter timelines for development once a permit is approved instead of allowing piles of fill dirt to sit for weeks and pollute our air and water
  • Protecting more trees
    • Size limits
    • Reduce exception side thresholds
    • Mitigation cap eligibility – only for less developed sites.
    • Protection zones
    • More eligible species on Recommended Species list
  • Preserving High Value Trees
    • Enhance specimen tree biodiversity
    • Heritage Tree program to define highest value trees.
  • Prioritizing USA Urban Forest
    • Reduced residential exception
    • Removal of certain trees for parking or stormwater purposes.
  • Planting Trees – Partnerships and Programs
    • Plans for effective use of the Tree Replacement Fund through county assessments.
    • Develop plans for routine tree canopy coverage analysis.

Strong Fertilizer Ordinance

  • Every water body in Orange County is impaired. We are leading the charge on a stronger fertilizer ordinance supported by Sierra Club which would:
    • Disallow heavy use of nitrogen fertilizers during the Florida rainy season to prevent run-off or increase percentage of slow-releasing fertilizers
    • Improve the cleanliness and safety of our water bodies
    • Introduce a “Summer blackout” implementation period for fertilizer application, where no fertilizer is to be used over summer, rather instead using summer safe compliant products that don’t contain nitrogen or phosphorus
    • Include new training requirements and large buffer for fertilizer application
    • Introduce more stringent variance provision that focuses on environmental protection
    • Put new requirements for golf course and institutional applicators in place

Food System Resiliency – Edible Gardens

  • We are working on an Urban Agriculture Ordinance similar to that of the City of Orlando. Urban agriculture is essential to upgrade our food system resiliency. As shown by the COVID-19 pandemic, our supply chains can be easily disrupted, causing major issues in our food system, public health, and safety. Having more food locally will ease the pressure on our system.