Thursday, September 29, 2016

CRB Candidates' responses to voter questionnaire

Below are the candidates running for the Sarasota Charter Review Board (CRB) this November. They are listed in District order, as found on the Supervisor of Elections' site.

On Sept. 22, all 11 candidates were sent the same six questions. Click on each candidate's name for his or her responses. If the name is not hyperlinked, the candidate's response has not yet been received.
Charter Review Board, Dist. 1 Arlene Sweeting 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 1  Joseph Anthony (Tony) Sawyer 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 2 Karen Collins-Fleming 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 2 Donna Barcomb 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 2 Robert Neff 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 3 Tom Patalano 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 3 Pat Wayman
Charter Review Board, Dist. 4 Ray Porter 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 4 Jody Hudgins 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 5 Mike Shlasko 
Charter Review Board, Dist. 5 David Samuel

Sincere thanks to all the candidates for their civic effort; special thanks to those who graciously participated to better acquaint voters with the issues and purpose of the CRB, and with the people running for it.

The questions:

  1. ​Why do you think you’re particularly well suited for the Charter Review Board? 
  2. Do you think the Charter Review Board should be changed from an elected board to an appointed board? Please explain. 
  3. What are three issues that have been suggested for the CRB’s consideration that you feel are worthy of further inquiry? For each one, please explain why you think it’s important. 
  4. What is your position on single-district elections? 
  5. Do you believe citizen petition charter amendment drives should be subject to a time limit on gathering signatures? 
  6. Do you believe advisory boards should be subject to a rule that aims to balance them by geography, areas of expertise, and relevant experience in advocacy? (For example, for the Planning Commission, at least one member with experience in advocating for affordable housing.)​

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

CRB says NO to Waechter

The citizens of Sarasota came to the Charter Review Board's "private meeting," but they let themselves be heard. They held a Rally before it, and they spoke at the meeting.. And they watched as the Board, in a "Private Meeting," voted unanimously NOT to go forward with the Waechter Proposal that the Board destroy its reason for existing - to offer the people of Sarasota a means of checking its government.

Background here, here, and here.

Congratulations to the citizens who Rallied and stayed for the decision.

Letter opposing the Waechter CRB initiative

A citizen's letter to the Charter Review Board regarding an initiative to transform it from an elected board to an appointed body:

To Chairman Dorfman and Charter Review Board Members:

I am writing to express my concern about and opposition to the proposal to amend the Sarasota County Charter to provide that CRB Members be appointed by the County Commission rather than elected by the voters the CRB is intended to represent.  I do not believe that how other Florida local governments manage and structure their Charter review or revisions boards or commissions is anything more than reflective of the many different ways Florida citizens have approached their charter process and is irrelevant to the issues to consider when evaluating this proposal for Sarasota County.  

On the other hand, I believe that it is very important to review the language of the Sarasota County Charter to identify the wishes of the residents and voters of Sarasota County regarding this important avenue for voter participation in our local government process.  Absent some compelling reasons why our Charter Review Board should not be elected, this is simply a proposal to reduce and restrict the level of input by voters in our County government.  I have reviewed the entire packet of documents provided to the CRB for their discussions at the Sept. 28, 2016 meeting and have seen no evidence of any compelling reasons.  Again, I do not consider "no one else elects them" to be a valid reason, much less a compelling reason, for the proposed change.

Let's look at some of the relevant language that reflects what I and other voters in Sarasota County have approved as their intent for and purpose of the CRB:

1971 - 1979:   The Review Board shall review the operation of the County government, on behalf of the citizens, and recommend changes, if they wish, for improvement of this Charter. 
1980 - 1987:   The Review Board shall review the operation of this County Government, on behalf of the citizens, and may recommend changes for improvement of this Charter .... 
1988 - 2003:    The Charter Review Board shall review the operation of County Government on behalf of the citizens of Sarasota County, and recommend changes, for improvement of the County Charter. 
2004 to date:   On behalf of the citizens of Sarasota County, the Charter Review Board shall review and recommend changes, to the County Charter for improvement of County government.

Two important phrases were included in the initial Charter and have been retained through numerous changes to this sentence as well as to many other portions of the Charter.  The CBR is to represent the citizens of Sarasota County and to review (or improve) the operation of County Government.  I and many other citizens have always viewed and valued the CRB as an independently elected body that represents me -- not the County Commission.  It is impossible for the CRB to act directly on behalf of the citizens of Sarasota County if the Members are appointed by the County Commission instead of being elected directly by the voters.  It is also extremely unlikely that CRB members, if appointed, would fulfill the mission of reviewing the operation of County government if such review is of those with the power to give or take away their positions on the CRB.  These factors are, more likely than not, the reasons pushing this proposed amendment forward.  

I hope that you will consider this proposal in light of the voters of Sarasota County and reject moving forward with the proposed amendment.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Charter Review Board to meet after rally

The county's Charter Review Board(CRB) will meet in a special session on Wednesday, Sept. 28th, at 6 pm at the County Admin building on Ringling Blvd.

At the meeting, the Board will consider whether to go forward with Bob Waechter's proposal that the Charter Review Board set in motion a referendum that would transform the board from an elected to an appointed body. That is, from an empowered Board of citizens chosen by the voters to grapple with the constitution of Sarasota County, to a group of appointees selected by sitting County Commissioners, funded and meeting at the will of the Commissioners.

The special meeting agenda is here. Some background here and here.

Bob Waechter
Two more CRB-related items:

  • The public will not have a chance to speak at the special session on Wednesday, but it can express itself at 5 pm, when a slate of candidates for the Board will hold a rally outside the Administration Building, on Ringling Blvd.
  • In the interest of acquainting the public with the CRB, its responsibilities and recent key issues, all candidates in the November race for the CRB have been sent 6 questions. Their answers will be posted to this blog soon after they have all had time to respond.

The next public meeting of the CRB is set for the same location - the County Administration building on Ringling - on October 12th at 6 pm. The public will have the right to speak at that meeting.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Six Questions for Charter Review Board Candidates

Sarasota's Charter Review Board is an elected body of 10 members, two members from each of the five county commission districts, who serve staggered terms of four years. The Board reviews and proposes changes to the Sarasota County Charter which are submitted to referendum in accordance with the provisions of Article VI of the Charter.

The 11 candidates running for the Board in November were invited to answer these questions:
  1. ​Why do you think you’re particularly well suited for the Charter Review Board? 
  2. Do you think the Charter Review Board should be changed from an elected board to an appointed board? Please explain. 
  3. What are three issues that have been suggested for the CRB’s consideration that you feel are worthy of further inquiry? For each one, please explain why you think it’s important. 
  4. What is your position on single-district elections? 
  5. Do you believe citizen petition charter amendment drives should be subject to a time limit on gathering signatures? 
  6. Do you believe advisory boards should be subject to a rule that aims to balance them by geography, areas of expertise, and relevant experience in advocacy? (For example, for the Planning Commission, at least one member with experience in advocating for affordable housing.)​
We have asked each candidate to provide their written responses by Noon,  Thursday, Sept. 29. We'll share their responses verbatim.

***Candidates are invited to provide photos and links to their sites.***

Amendment 1

For those who may be puzzled by the heavy push for Amendment 1 on this November's Florida ballot, here's a clear explanation of why it's important to say NO to this Solar initiative:


Six Questions for Sarasota Hospital Board Candidates

Last Monday's Hospital Board forum presented by the League of Women Voters of Sarasota County offered those who attended many superb insights into the health issues affecting Sarasota County residents, and the candidates proffered a range of positions on those issues. 

By the end of the forum, it was clear to all that the questions facing Sarasota Memorial and the task of public healthcare are large, complex, and highly significant to our residents. To make what's at stake more available to our voters, each candidate has been invited to respond to the questions below. More about the Hospital Board hereA description of the Board's responsibilities is here.
1. What are the major pros and cons of privatizing Sarasota Memorial Hospital and what is your position? 
2. Regarding the expansion of Sarasota Memorial Hospital: please expand upon why you agree or disagree with the current expansion?   
3. How would you like future expansion to proceed?
4. The failure of the State of Florida to expand Medicaid increases the hospital's uncompensated costs. What is your position on accepting the Federal Medicaid Funds? 
5. Moral and financial reasons for accepting Federal Medicaid Funds which were presented to the past Legislature did not work. How can the taxpayers encourage the Legislature to accept the federal Medicaid funds?
6. Mental health services are currently poorly funded; the low income working poor and some elders could benefit from the expansion of the federal Medicaid funds. How do you feel the hospital can be instrumental in providing the proposed expansion of mental health services that may be funded under the Affordable Care Act?

We have asked each candidate to provide their written responses by Noon Friday, Sept. 30. We will share their responses verbatim.

***Candidates are invited to provide photos and links to their sites.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pat Neal takes request for special treatment to county commission Oct. 25

The County Commission public hearing on Pat Neal's amendment to exempt his Sarasota 2050 development from affordable housing, off-site environmental protection, mixed use, open space and Greenbelt buffers, has been set for:
Wednesday October 26
After 9 a.m.
1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota


7 – 0
Planning Commission Rejects Neal Bid for Exemptions 
On September 15, around 1 am at the end of a long agenda, the Sarasota County Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the County Commission deny a request by influential developer Pat Neal to be exempt from requirements of the Sarasota 2050 Plan. 
It was a shock from a Planning Commission which in recent years has become stacked by the County Commission with developers, construction company executives and others who make their living in development and who almost always side with development interests.  And it was doubly surprising for those who are used to Pat Neal getting whatever he wants from a County in which he has become very powerful by his major role in County Commission elections. 
Neal asked for a Comprehensive Plan amendment for a 522-acre development east of I-75 and south of Clark Road to be known as Grand Lake.  The amendment would completely waive requirements for some homes to be built as affordable housing, for mixed residential and non-residential use and for preserving off-site environmentally sensitive land by purchase and transfer of development rights for some of the requested density.  The amendment also would reduce the required open space from 50% of the property to 33% and the Greenbelt buffer around the site from 500 feet to 50 feet. 
Neal told the Planning Commission that he needed the affordable housing waiver so that he could realistically meet the “fiscal neutrality” requirement of the Sarasota 2050 Plan and County Charter.  He stated that affordable housing is not fiscally neutral, unlike the homes he plans to build, all in the range of $400,000 to a million dollars.   However, it was revealed by public testimony, County staff and a Planning Commissioner that Neal’s claim, under oath, was completely false, because the County Commission changed the Sarasota 2050 Plan to deem affordable housing to be fiscally neutral.
Neal also stated that the amendment would allow 788 homes on the 522 acres, even though the text actually would allow 1,044 homes, as confirmed at the hearing by County staff. 
County staff strongly opposed Neal’s amendment, arguing that it would violate the “core principles” of Sarasota 2050.

Several Planning Commissioners also spoke firmly against the proposal.

Chairman John Ask agreed with Neal that a TDR (Transfer of Development Right) bought from the County from its public Greenway land (and reinvested in new protected land purchases) costs $23,000 a unit but added, “I’m hearing that they can be bought for less than that on the free open market” from owners of private Greenway lands.

Planning Commissioner Kevin Cooper noted that affordable housing has not only has been removed from the fiscal neutrality calculation but also that it now provides TDR credits.  Cooper also said, “One of the central tenets of (Sarasota) 2050 was affordable housing … you wipe out TDR’s, you wipe out affordable housing, you’re almost left with how far do you go before 2050 isn’t 2050 anymore? … My biggest trouble is with affordable housing, removing something the community is asking for and is ready to fall or the sword for.”

Planning Commissioner Laura Benson said Sarasota 2050 “was to provide different styles of housing for different members of our community to take advantage of” and that requirement should be kept.

Neal pointed out that the County Commission had waived the TDR requirement for other Sarasota 2050 developers to save them the cost, but Planning Commissioner Ron Cutsinger said he was not then on the Planning Commission and questioned whether that should have been done.
The Planning Commission rejected Neal’s proposal even though its Vice-Chairman, Jack Bispham, and his family own the subject property which would be sold to Neal for his development. Bispham abstained from the vote, as did (for unstated reason) Planning Commissioner Rob Morris. 
Environmentalist Jono Miller spoke against Neal’s proposal, as did I and several residents of the Serenoa Lakes Subdivision, located between the site and Clark Road.  
No members of the public spoke for it. 
During a break in the Planning Commission meeting, just before they took up the proposal, Pat Neal jokingly offered to get his opponents Uber rides home before the hearing began.  He also walked around asking, “Who wants affordable housing?” 
The Comprehensive Plan amendment now goes to the County Commission for public hearing and a vote, on a date, time and place not yet announced.     
If the hearing is after the November 8 County Commission election and Mike Moran prevails over Fredd Atkins, Moran’s vote may be expected to go for Neal.  Moran told a Tiger Bay audience on September 15 that he opposes requiring developers to build affordable housing in return for density increases, as is done in Sarasota 2050.

[Eds. note: Pat Neal has larger ambitions in this area -- see Pat Neal Grabs Land.]

  -- Dan Lobeck
Join Control Growth Now

South County Explodes

Graphic and story courtesy of
For years overshadowed by North Sarasota, sleepy little South County is waking up with a roar. Bulldozers, construction workers and brand-new gated communities cover a swath from S.R. 681 in Nokomis south to Toledo Blade and I-75, just outside the southern North Port city limits. More than 33,000 new residential units are already planned for the decades ahead, bringing an estimated 54,000 newcomers by 2030 and sparking new businesses of every sort. “It’s a place where people want to be,” says Venice Mayor John Holic. “It’s no longer a secret.”
Here’s a look at some of the major projects that will transform the region in the coming years. 

North Port
West Villages
A new city is rising south of Venice, one that will alter South County just as Lakewood Ranch has transformed Manatee County east of I-75 since it was announced 20 years ago. Called the West Villages, the community has a Venice zip code but became part of North Port more than a decade ago when North Port annexed the former Taylor Ranch. The annexed community is separated from North Port’s former northern border by about nine rural miles. But that separation will disappear as the West Villages develops.
Canadian-based Mattamy Homes, North America’s largest privately owned homebuilder, saw the potential to build a city in a growing retirement area and bought thousands of acres for the West Villages several years ago. The company looked at legendary planner John Nolen’s blueprint for downtown Venice, and New Urbanist communities, such as Celebration, for inspiration.
“It’s 9,800 acres within a mile and a half from the beach,” says Marty Black, the West Villages’ general manager (and Venice’s former city manager), who helped Mattamy find the property. “There aren’t many parcels left like that.”
Mattamy will build 23,000 residential units and 3 million square feet of commercial development over the next three decades. The West Villages is a community development district, which can tax residents to build infrastructure. It has a governing body and functions much like its own city. But it’s not just the sheer number of homes that will change North Port. The mammoth development also is aimed at a more affluent market.
For years overshadowed by North Sarasota, sleepy little South County is waking up with a roar. Bulldozers, construction workers and brand-new gated communities cover a swath from S.R. 681 in Nokomis south to Toledo Blade and I-75, just outside the southern North Port city limits. More than 33,000 new residential units are already planned for the decades ahead, bringing an estimated 54,000 newcomers by 2030 and sparking new businesses of every sort. “It’s a place where people want to be,” says Venice Mayor John Holic. “It’s no longer a secret.”
Here’s a look at some of the major projects that will transform the region in the coming years. . .
MORE here...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Please sir . . .

Indian Creek hits market for S60 million

By Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor - Friday, September 16, 2016 

A nearly 1940-acre parcel of vacant land east of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County has come to the market with a hefty asking price of $60 million.Indian Creek, a property whose access to highways and existing subdivisions is expected to be greatly enhanced when extensions to Lorraine Road are completed in the coming years, is roughly eight miles east of the Interstate, on Fruitville Road. 

Dennis Dahm, a commercial real estate agent with Michael Saunders & Co. who is marketing the property on behalf of Sarasota-based investors Indian Creek Investments and BDR Investments, says the land is unique in many respects. 

“It’s one cohesive piece.” says Dahm. "It's one of the last major tracts out there, and the feeling is now is the best time to bring it to market for sale with all that's going on with the comprehensive land use plan.”

The sales price reflects a rezoning that has yet to be applied for, Dahm says. He plans to pitch the property to major homebuilders or long-term residential developers interested in creating a ground-up community.

Sprawl could gobble up another 5 million acres in Florida by 2070

Over the next 50 years, Florida’s swelling population is expected to gobble up another 15 percent — or 5 million acres — of the state’s disappearing farms, forests and unprotected green space, according to a new study released Thursday. 
With the population expected to reach nearly 34 million by 2070, University of Florida researchers partnered with 1000 Friends of Florida and the state Department of Agriculture to look at growth trends and urban sprawl in a state powered by land booms. What they found was startling: In Central Florida, where the population is expected to surge along the I-4 corridor, half the region will be developed if no more land is protected. Agriculture and other green spaces shrink by nearly 2.4 million acres. That could dramatically increase the flow of urban pollution into Lake Okeechobee.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Three vignettes from the history of US housing

Housing after WW II : Early 50's
 . . . in the post-war era, when William Levitt pioneered the large-scale housing developments that ushered in the modern American suburb, an era of white flight was born that led rapidly to the racial strife and riots of the next decade.
"By 1957 not a single one of Levittown's fifty-five thousand residents was black. On August 13 of that year, Bill and Daisy Myers tried to break the color line in Levittown. By midnight, a crowd of over two hundred stone-throwing Levittowners had driven the Myerses back to their old house. The Myerses continued to be subjected to a variety of racial harassments through the fall, until arrests and indictments finally cooled things down." More.
Housing market collapses 1930's
By 1933 the mortgage market was effectively dead, and with it the housing industry. 
"Without mortgages, the housing industry collapsed. Housing invest­ment fell from $68 billion in 1929 to $17.6 billion in 1932. By 1934, the construction industry, as a whole, was one-tenth the size it had been in the late 1920s. Wage earners from a third of the families on relief were employed in construction. Indirectly, the collapse of the housing indus­try hit other sectors of the economy as well. Construction also had tre­mendous linkages to other sectors of the economy to a much greater ex­tent than most industries. Ten percent of American factories manufactured building materials for construction. Twenty percent of freight cars car­ried those materials across the country. Unskilled labor carried mate­rial. Skilled labor put it together. Metal and wood of all shapes and types were needed for almost any project. Muscle and machine were needed alike. Clearly, restoring the economy turned on restoring the construction industry. What was less certain was how to bring about new construc­tion. New Deal policymakers focused on the housing industry in their efforts to restart the economy because it had fallen so hard and so fast. ...  Excerpt from Debtor Nation, via Delancey Place.

Birth of White Suburbia Post WW II
To help bolster mortgage lending during the Great Depression, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created, and the FHA in turn created the twenty year mortgage. But no one had made a mortgage loan for anywhere close to as long as twenty years before, and lenders were worried that the houses would not hold their value over twenty years. So the FHA created standards and guidelines to help insure that they did. But in so doing, it clearly showed a bias against urban areas, inaugurating an almost eighty year period in which the trends in housing was toward suburbs -- and away from urban areas. This trend has only recently reversed: 
"The purpose of the FHA was to create demand for building materials and for labor. To get money moving again in the economy, the FHA guidelines helped buyers and lenders alike differentiate between a good house and a bad house. Too many home buyers had been burned by shoddy construc­tion in the 1920s. Enacting national standards allowed investors to loan money at a distance, and allowed mortgages to be resold. Housing qual­ity was the foundation upon which the entire FHA system resided. 
"In determining 'good' housing, however, FHA guidelines went well beyond the proper ratio of nails to wood in addressing what had long been contentious politically and racially. ... The FHA Underwriting Manual instructed lenders on which properties could be insured. ... Through its many pages of charts, tables, and descriptions, the manual instructed banks on where to lend and on whom to lend money to. While the man­ual promised objectivity, the social assumptions of the FHA planners shaped the planning criteria as much as macroeconomic considerations. ...
"These standards were not only for how they were physically constructed, but also where they were located, which few ex­tant homes could meet. ... The ideal house lot possessed 'sunshine, ventilation, scenic outlook, pri­vacy, and safety.' 'Effective landscaping and gardening' also added to its worth. 
Needless to say, downtown districts, especially in the East, rarely possessed all these qualities and 'depart[ure] from the conditions [caused] ratings [to] become progressively lower.' Homogeneity of surrounding housing stock -- houses that all looked alike -- was believed to indicate stable housing prices. To get the maximum score on the mortgage evalu­ation, the manual mandated that a house be a part of a 'sparsely devel­oped new neighborhood . . . completed over the span of a very few years.' Without this homogeneity, 'an undesirable age mixture of structures will result.' Between the types of lots and the need for simi­lar building age, the suburban subdivision easily received a designation as a 'better mortgage-lending area.' Urban neighborhoods found it nearly impossible to receive such a designation. ... 
"Multiuse districts with 'commercial, industrial, or manufacturing enterprise,' threatened resi­dential value. A declining population threatened a surplus of sales, which would decrease value. Most alarming was the mixture of classes or races in a neighborhood or the potential therefore. The 'adverse influences' category of the mortgage application, which was 20 percent of its total rating, was mostly concerned with the danger of class and racial mixing. Ideal neighborhood schools ought not to have 'a goodly number of the pupils represent a far lower level of society or an incompatible racial ele­ment.' A good neighborhood also included 'prevention of the infiltra­tion of business and industrial uses, lower-class occupancy, and inharmo­nious racial groups.' ... 
"Considered from the point of view of a mortgage lender, the FHA be­lieved the city was not a good investment, making suburban lending risk­ free and thus, urban lending, bad business. Very explicitly, the 'central downtown core' was 'considered ineligible.' " 
Excerpt from Debtor Nation, via Delancey Place.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lobeck: The Vue and You


Join us to help make
Sarasota a resident-friendly city

The Vue and You

Thursday, SEPTEMBER 22, 6:00 PM

Selby Library Auditorium

This Town Hall meeting
is organized by STOP!, a group of Sarasota
residents concerned about maintaining our quality of life. STO P!'s
goals include four very specific changes to the City zoning code:
wider sidewalks, public involvement in approving new development and
realistic traffic studies.

STOP!'s Steering Committee consists of:
Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, Mollie Cardamone, Lee Duffey, Lewis Hanan,
Mike Lasche, Jude Levy, Kate Lowman, Bill Noonan, Eileen Normile and
Gretchen Serrie.

STO P! Advisory Board (9/8/16)

Dennis Adams
Valerie Buchand
Barbara Campo
Dick Clapp, former Sarasota City Mayor
David Cohen
Bob Easterle
Mary Kay and Joe Henson
Virginia Hoffman
Kelly Kirschner, former Sarasota City Mayor
Pat Kolodgy
Barbara Sassen May
Bonnie McIntyre
Jono Miller
Patrick O’Brien
Sarah Pappas
Rob Patten
Carol Reynolds
Ronald Riffel
Curtis Schantz
Mort Siegel, former Sarasota City Planning Board member
Rick Spinner
Gerry Swormstedt
Dave Sylvester
Cerise Terry
Terry Turner, former Sarasota City Commission

STOP! is a community-based organization of Sarasota citizens. We are volunteers who come from all parts of the City: downtown, the keys, and the City’s mainland neighborhoods. Some of us are retired; others are still working. Our backgrounds are diverse – business, the arts,health care, education, government, the law and more.

We all have one goal in common: preserve our quality of life. We are working for wide tree-lined sidewalks, consideration of traffic issues, and citizen involvement in Sarasota’s development approval process. Only when Sarasota residents are part of the process will the City protect the quality of life that makes us want to live here.

For more information, or to get involved, contact:
Email Stop!

Link to Stop! Website


Feel free to forward this to any friends and neighbors you think may
be interested.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Tipping Point

While the newspaper points out that rapid, uncontrolled growth is the #1 issue on Sarasota voters' minds, and despite what happened to Carlos Beruff's boat channel, we have reason to take this cum grano salis, and to anticipate the November victory parties of Mike Moran. Eric Robinson, Greg (Got Gun?) Steube, and Joe Gruters. Unless we wake up soon. This week might offer some alarm clocks:

Monday, Sept. 12: Confused about local and state amendments? Wondering about the language about solar in primaries and general ballots? CONA Sarasota hosts an informed discussion of county and state amendments we'll see on the ballot in November -- Monday evening, 7 pm at the Garden Club.

Thursday, Sept. 15: Our esteemed Planning Commissioners -
including the aforementioned Moran * - will meet to consider Pat Neal's humble request to violate or abolish every last feature of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan that he doesn't like. It would be politically, socially, and economically beneficial for folks to tell the Planning Commission what to do with Mr. Neal's request. 6:30 pm. County Commission Chamber, 1st floor, 1660 Ringling Blvd.

For more context, see "Pat Neal Grabs Land"

*NOTE: Mike Moran is no longer on the Planning Commission - after enabling Carlos Beruff to develop two parcels that abut an old, potentially toxic waste dump, he moved on to become a candidate for County Commission. He reports a PAC-stuffed war chest of $76,758.13, built by the usual suspects: Carlos Beruff, Pat Neal, Bob Medred, Bill Merrill III, John Ask, Lakewood Ranch Communities (Rex Jensen), and many, many more.

The current County Commission is the least independent, most developer-friendly Board folks here can remember. They've brought us to what might be Sarasota's tipping point. If Pat Neal and his buddies push these plans through, we can say goodbye to the place we've known, called home, and fought for. Please share this with everyone you know who cares about Sarasota County.

Citizens for Sarasota County (CSC) is a new coalition to promote ethical, responsive government that preserves and enhances Sarasota's unique natural environment and cultural heritage while building a sound local economy based on effective stewardship and innovation. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Development tops issue list for 3rd year straight

From the Herald Trib:

SARASOTA — As Sarasota County residents' anxiety about the economic downturn melts away, their concerns about population growth and development unequivocally top their list of the biggest issues facing the county. 
It's the third year in a row that development has topped residents' list of concerns, this time with 28 percent of respondents citing the issue, according to the results of the latest annual public opinion survey conducted by the University of South Florida. 
That number is 7 percentage points higher than when population growth and development first topped the list in 2014, unseating the concerns about the economy, which have steadily dropped after the downturn, said USF political science professor Susan MacManus, who lead the survey.
MORE . . .

Psst: Someone should tell Mr. Developer Dark Money Eric Robinson.

Beruff Boat Channel Blocked

Opponents of Carlos Beruff's plan for a boat channel in Sarasota Bay called a Judge's decision "a victory for the community":

Long Bar Pointe Developers Withdraw Mitigation Bank Permit

Dennis Maley
Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016
BRADENTON — The ongoing saga of the Long Bar Pointe development was updated on Tuesday when developers Carlos Beruff and Larry Lieberman withdrew their application to the state for a controversial mitigation bank along the development's Sarasota Bay shoreline.

A wetland mitigation bank is a device that allows developers to use preservation, enhancement, restoration or creation of a wetland, stream, or habitat conservation area to offset or compensate for expected adverse impacts to similar nearby ecosystems.

Beruff and Lieberman had asked the state to designate the majority of their 522-acre property's shoreline as a bank, hence giving them credit to mitigate destroyed wetlands associated with the development.

A suit was brought against the developers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection by Suncoast Waterkeeper, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritageand TBT publisher and former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, seeking to stop the permit. The withdrawal means there will be no administrative hearing on the matter.
The withdrawal follows Beruff and Lieberman's failed lawsuit challenging portions of the Manatee County Comp plan and whether parts related to dredging of canals, channels and marina basins and the construction of boat ramps and restrictions to protect our coastal wetlands, shorelines and submerged land were in violation of the Constitution. A judge ruled against the developers in January.
Beruff and Lieberman's federal application for a mitigation bank is still pending, and they could reapply with the state in the future. However, at least for now, the withdrawal looks like a win for the many environmental activists who've opposed the bank along with many other aspects of the controversial development along the last major portion of undeveloped Sarasota Bay coastline in Manatee County.

"The withdrawal of the permit is a victory for our community," said McClash. "We have a strong coalition of citizens and environmental organizations that rise up in unity to protect our environment. We must remain vigilant and fight to save our quality of life so many of us enjoy."