Friday, July 29, 2016

Dan Lobeck: Register. Vote. Deadline Monday

Deadline Monday
Register to Vote or Change Parties
For August 30 Primary

Monday, August 1 is the deadline to register to vote or to change parties, to vote in the August 30 primary election.

Democrats, Independents and minor party members may want to consider temporarily changing their party affiliation to Republican in order to vote in the very important primary election for Sarasota County Commission between Mike Moran, the hand-picked tool of the big developers, and principled neighborhood leader and mediator Frank DiCicco.  If you want, you can change your registration back after the primary.

Citizens may register to vote or change parties at the Supervisor of Elections office in Sarasota, Venice or North Port, ThursdayFriday or Monday, 8:30 to 5 (North Port closed noon to 1):  Find Your Elections Office Here.   

If you want to print and fill out the registration form (with a black ballpoint pen) in advance, The Registration Form is Here. (Filling out the form is also used to change parties or otherwise change your information, such as the address).  Alternatively, you can mail that completed form with a postmark dated no later than Monday, August 1, to Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, P.O. Box 4194, Sarasota, FL 34230.

Please do your part to protect your interests and those of the rest of the citizenry from those special interests which would hijack democracy for their personal gain.



Make a Difference.
 -- Dan Lobeck
    Join Control Growth Now Today

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Update: Florida approves toxins for dumping

Follow-up to ERC story from yesterday:

From the Miami Herald:

TALLAHASSEE Florida regulators voted to approve new water quality standards Tuesday that will increase the amount of cancer-causing toxins allowed in Florida’s rivers and streams under a plan the state says will protect more Floridians than current standards.
The Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 to approve a proposal drafted by state regulators that would impose new standards on 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state and revise the regulations on 43 other toxins, most of which are carcinogens.

Read mhere:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Letter to the ERC (sample)

Rick Scott wants the Environmental Regulatory Commission to allow more toxins into Florida waters.

There's a meeting today, July 26th, that might see that decision being made.

We can tell them what we think about this.


Sample email:


"Adam R. Gelber" <>,
Carl Roth <>,
"Craig D. Varn" <>,
Joe Joyce <>,
"Sarah S. Walton" <>

Do not allow more toxins in Florida waters

ERC Commissioners:

First, do no harm.

Next, work to improve the public good.

Always, regard your decision with conscience - human lives, environmental health are in play.

Thank you.

Citizens for 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. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fight unfair voting practices

The people's right to vote is being suppressed by unconscionable state laws and manipulated by moneyball gerrymandering.*

One way to fight back (from The Detail):
If you are already a registered Republican, show up on August 30th and vote. If you are not a registered Republican, register with the Republican Party by August 1st.  You can change your party affiliation back after August 30th if you choose.  Just mail in another registration form.  Local election information can be found at 
Here is the specific link for a Florida voter registration form:  
Print it out and to fill it out with black ballpoint pen. You must be a US citizen and a Florida resident to register, and you must be 18 years old by August 30th to vote in the primary (you can preregister to vote at 16 or 17 years old, but you will not be able to vote until you are 18)
Mail the completed, signed form in to the Supervisor of Elections PO Box 4194 Sarasota FL 34230-4194, or
Drop it off at the one of the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections offices:
  • 2001 Adams Lane, Sarasota, FL 34237
  • RL Anderson County Administration, 4000 South Tamiami Trail, Venice, Florida 34293
  • Biscayne Plaza, 13640 Tamiami Trail, North Port, FL 34287

Click here for street maps to all three locations

Update on SANCA/Benderson -- from the News Leader

Excerpts from the News Leader:

September the earliest SANCA representatives can begin regular presentations to County Commission

In May, the county administrator said the updates on the 2017 World Rowing Championships would begin June 8

Rowers compete during the 2013 USRowing Masters Championships at Benderson Park. File photo
Rowers compete during the 2013 USRowing Masters Championships at Benderson Park. File photo

As the Sarasota County commissioners prepared to begin their approximately month-long summer break at the end of last week, Commissioner Carolyn Mason took the opportunity to reprise a matter she had raised in May: The board should be hearing regular updates from the two key people heading up the preparations for the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
She brought up the issue during the board members’ reports on July 12, calling it “one little burning issue.” Referring to a top official of the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA), she told her colleagues, “There are some things that … I need to hear from that board president.”
SANCA manages the events at Nathan Benderson Park, the county-owned facility where the 2017 international event will be held Sept. 23-30.
. . .
The latest from Scerba

Meredith Scerba. File photo
Meredith Scerba. File photo

The June update from Scerba reported that the SANCA board had formally approved the World Rowing Championships budget of $9.7 million and that “meetings with prospective sponsors & local foundations are underway.”
In May, Scerba told the commission the revised budget was $9.3 million, but she emphasized that no additional money was expected from Sarasota County or Manatee County, with each already having committed $2.78 million from Tourist Development Tax revenue.
On Sept. 23, she continued, a ceremony at Nathan Benderson Park will feature the unveiling of public art “that will incorporate a Countdown Clock for the [2017] event.” That artwork will be a permanent installation “as a legacy of the games.” After the event, the memo says, “the clock will be replaced with a plaque.”
The memo added that Harmer “will see the final design options before submission for approval.”
A local artist had been commissioned to do the work, the memo noted.
Furthermore, the update says that the World Rowing Championships co-chairs have been named. They are Rod Hershberger, chair and CEO of PGT Industries, representing Sarasota County; and Ed Chiles, CEO of The Chiles Group, for Manatee County.
The memo ended with the note: “Monthly Updates to the [County Commission] will begin in September.”
A contract amendment

Carolyn Brown. News Leader photo
Carolyn Brown. News Leader photo

In a related matter, the County Commission on July 12 unanimously approved increasing its annual reimbursement to SANCA from $200,000 to $254,500 for routine park maintenance.
That action came as part of the board’s approval of its Consent Agenda of routine business items.
A July 12 memo from Brown, the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department director, explained that in March 2014, SANCA and the county entered into a licensing and operating agreement to give SANCA full authority to host events at Nathan Benderson Park and to maintain the facilities.
Since then, Brown continued in the memo, “maintenance of [the park] has proven to be more costly than anticipated” — especially in terms of dealing with invasive vegetation — so SANCA requested the increase. On July 14, 2015, the board voted to give SANCA an extra $54,500, the memo notes. The amendment before the board on July 12 “provides additional funding in the approved amount beginning October 1, 2015 and continuing through the term of the Agreement,” the memo says. The original agreement says the term will end on Sept. 30, 2019; however, it can be extended another 10 years beyond that date.

Paul Blackketter. File photo
Paul Blackketter. File photo

Finally, the amendment “includes language regarding employee and representative conduct” that is part of “various County agreements,” Brown notes in her July 12 memo.
The new section says, “SANCA agrees that all of its officers, employees and representatives shall conduct themselves in a professional manner and shall communicate with County employees and members of the public in a civil manner whenever in the Park or conducting Park business.”
Prior to former SANCA President Blackketter’s resignation, a YouTube video of an angry exchange between him and another man — filmed at the park — went viral. In it, Blackketter used foul language. Blackketter apologized to the SANCA board and vowed to get professional help to manage his anger issues.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Detox Sarasota: Vote August 30th

Since 1973, every single Sarasota County Commissioner has been a Republican. Every. single. one.

Where are we today? Corruption. Over-Development. Traffic. An environment that is turning toxic.

Corruption - Notorious Jim Ley memo gathering the cabal of developer/owners leading to the evisceration of the 2050 plan:

Corruption in Sarasota County
Thanks Jim!

Overdevelopment - Gated communities receive approval in defiance of the (vitiated) Comp Plan. Whole Foods wins permission from County Commission to pave a wetland:


The Sarasota County Commission election is on August 30th, not November 8th.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Dark Money - gets darker

The Detail:

When it comes to dark PAC money in Sarasota/Manatee, there are relatively few managers. Eric Robinson is by far the leader in managing local dark money. With 30-40 political committees under his management, Mr. Robinson manages millions in political committee donations. As he has explained in the local press, donors to political committees “don’t want to be identified”

By the way, remember that $50,000 donated by Robinson Hanks Accounting to Manatee Against Taxation on June 5, 2013?

On July 3, 2013, Manatee Against Taxation turned around and paid Robinson Hanks $50,000 for accounting services. It’s interesting that a political committee required accounting services valued at 43% of its total 115K in assets, and remarkable when a company can make a 50K political committee donation and then one month later charge the same political committee an exorbitant 50K accounting fee, recouping its original donation. Even more remarkable how the PACs treasurer, chair and registered agent are one and the same – Mr. Robinson. Now Sarasota has Mr. Robinson’s accounting prowess at the helm on the Sarasota School Board.
Eric "Dark Money" Robinson

Complete story at The Detail.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Answer Suncoast acts to protect Wetland in Sarasota

From Answer Suncoast:
Join us as we tell Whole Foods and the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners that we will not stand for the destruction of precious ecological lands in our County for the sake of their profits! 
The destruction of this wetland, which is located on University Parkway and Honore, goes directly against Sarasota County’s Comprehensive Plan, an official public document adopted by the Board of County Commissioners to guide decision-making related to the physical development of the County. 

The plan states that destruction of wetlands will only be allowed if there is no “reasonable alternative”. The County’s own staff have recommended against destroying this valuable habitat, stating that wetlands are “very rare in Sarasota County” and have “a high degree of environmental importance”.

Despite this, Sarasota County has chosen to approve the re-zoning of this land for development. Local elections in Sarasota are largely controlled by Political Action Committees, which are funded by developers and special interests. The commissioners in office do not represent the residents of Sarasota County, they represent developers, builders, and big business.
The Comprehensive Plan is currently being updated, and the draft of the new plan severely weakens controls on developers as well as environmental regulations. This is largely due to the fact that each amendment to the plan is reviewed and submitted by the Planning Commission, which includes two developers and four top executives of construction companies.

In addition to a pending lawsuit being pursued by Manasota 88, ANSWER Suncoast and others will be taking to the streets to raise awareness about the need to protect this wetland, and to fight developer control over the local government.

About Answer Suncoast: A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) is a national coalition of anti-war and civil rights organizations. We are the Florida Suncoast chapter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fwd: breaking: Whole Foods and Monsanto try to Derail GMO Labeling

This is unbelievable.

Plan on being at Whole Foods from 10:00-11:30 on Saturday the 9th, for the next demonstration organized by ANSWERS Sarasota, a radical millenial group, the next generation of activists.  People must be told about this.  Whole Foods and Monsanto, teaming up to lie about what is in our food.  I knew they were bad actors, but never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine Whole Foods would team up with Monsanto, which has covered the world in toxic chemicals, and now wants to poison us more directly, through the food we eat.  It's more than a 4 1/2 acre wetland, at this point.  It is Citizens United, which allows corporations like Monsanto to control corrupt members of congress to develop legislation that makes it illegal to sue them for the effects of their poison chemicals.  Thousands of small-scale farmers have committed suicide in India over losing their rights to farm because of spurious patent infringement lawsuits brought by Monsanto.  These are the people Whole Foods is getting in bed with?

Join me on Saturday the 9th at Whole Foods, downtown Sarasota, corner of 1st and Lemon.

Best wishes for a safe and fun holiday weekend,

You'll never guess who's selling out your right to mandatory GMO labeling - it's ALL HANDS ON DECK, GMO Labeling is about to die.

This is the darkest moment in the history of the GMO labeling movement and we need you to know what's actually happening in DC behind our backs and who is responsible for it. 
Right now we’re being betrayed in Washington D.C. by a group of donation-hungry Senators and a handful of corrupt Corporate Organic Companies that have just brokered an outrageous deal behind our backs in an effort to kill mandatory GMO labeling and make sure that Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling bill never takes effect this Friday on July 1st. 
Monsanto and Whole Foods’ new fake labeling bill would not only preempt Vermont’s bill from taking effect this week, but ALL provisions of the bill are OPTIONAL and the language is so poorly writtenthat it would actually not include 85% of the current GMO products and ingredients on the market - You know, the ones from the Roundup Ready seeds owned by Monsanto!
Additionally, the deal brokered by Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Roberts (R-KS) would not provide any penalties for non-compliance, so cannot even be reinforced if violated, by any company if they refuse to label! 
A vote on this outrageous bargain is expected any day now - this week - and we can’t allow the most corrupt corporations on the planet to get away with it!
Contact your Senators now to tell them that Monsanto, DuPont, Stonyfield, Smucker's and Whole Foods don'tt represent you on GMO labeling.

In reality, this bill was written and approved by Monsanto and America’s most corrupt food companies in a last ditch effort to avoid common sense, mandatory labeling of GMOs, while keeping the doors wide open for a flood of campaign cash from companies such as Monsanto, DuPont, Pepsi, General Mills, Stonyfield, Smucker’s, Organic Valley and Whole Foods’ executives to their campaign coffers. That’s right, there were major corporate organic interests at the table and they just sold us out! (The full details on this deep betrayal of our movement will be forthcoming, but we need to be laser focused right now on killing this dangerously corrupt bargain right now!) 
This is an outrage and we can’t allow them to rob our movement of the basic right to know what’s in our food and who’s actually behind the rising exposure to toxic chemicals linked to GMO foods in America. 
We need your help today to make sure that Vermont’s historic GMO labeling bill is allowed to go into effect on Friday, July 1st at the end of this week. 
A vote in the Senate is expected in the coming days and we need you now, more than ever, to contact your Senators once again to make sure they hear YOUR voices and understand that you oppose any corrupt corporate sell out of your basic democratic rights - on an issue that 90% of the American population supports! 
For the past 5 years, this community has taken on the most powerful companies on the planet - Monsanto, DuPont, General Mills, Coke and Pepsi - the same companies that are responsible for releasing the planet-polluting chemicals, pesticides and junk foods that harm you and your family's health and future. 
So far, because of YOU and your tireless dedication, we’ve stopped Monsanto and the corporate elite in this country 3 times in the Senate in the past 8 months! We keep winning, but every time Monsanto and their corporate allies give us a new sinister bill to rob us of our basic rights. We continue to believe that Victory is our only option. And we desperately need your help to stop this incredible betrayal of America’s food movement! 
Help DEFEND Vermont’s historic GMO Labeling Law from this outrageous assault brokered by Senator Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Roberts (R-KS), Monsanto and Organic Traitors. Who are these Organic Traitors and why is this important now? 
What we have now confirmed, we are sharing with you today because a handful of corporate-owned organic companies that the organic community has mistakenly trusted over the years have been working against us behind-the-scenes and now publicly support this sham of a backroom deal brokered in the halls of Congress.
Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb Climbs in Bed with Monsanto
In the past 72 hours the American GMO labeling movement has been rocked by the most outrageous betrayal imaginable. While you and your friends have been fighting for mandatory GMO labeling, the giant corporate organic companies that are owned by parent companies have just climbed into bed with Monsanto and stuck a knife in the back of every American who’s ever fought for GMO labeling.
According to a Politico story that came out yesterday, Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb joined his friends at Stonyfield, Smucker’s and Organic Valley in selling out the American food movement. 
Interviewed while on vacation, Walter Robb is now peddling this monstrous sell out that protects Monsanto’s and Whole Foods profits, to the national media: 
An "incredible thing" that the senators came together and compromised during a dysfunctional time. He said he hopes that lawmakers can soon move on to other things. Incredulously, he went on to claim that “we need to…talk about much bigger issues.”  
Stonyfield Yogurt and Just Label founder Gary Hirshberg Exposes Real Agenda 
In an even more outrageous lie, Stonyfield Yogurt chairman Gary Hirshberg and founder of the bogus corporate organic front group, Just Label It, who's been working behind the scenes with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, former biotech Governor of the Year, is now telling the press: 
"We are pleased this proposal will finally create a national, mandatory GMO disclosure system, protects organic labels, and will cover more food than Vermont’s groundbreaking GMO labeling law". 
After years of using Just Label It as a corporate front group to undermine real grassroots campaigns and GMO labeling ballot initiatives and people like you, Gary Hirshberg and Just Label It are finally showing their true colors and working publicly to make it easier for corrupt Senators to vote for this toxic backroom deal that will undermine every American mother's basic right to know what's in the food they're feeding their children, like mothers in 64 other countries around the world already possess. 
In reality, it's easy to recognize that this deal brokered last week in DC is a "non-labeling" bill and does nothing to secure your right to know, as we've fought so hard for over many years. Sadly, a handful of corporate organic lobbyists at the Organic Trade Association (OTA) helped broker this deal and are now peddling the lie that it represents what our national GMO labeling movement actually wants your Senators to vote for. 
These corporate organic lobbyists know that this corrupt bargain, which protects their corporate parent companies toxic GMO junk foods, will actually leave the vast number of GMO products and ingredients on the market unlabeled and intentionally leaves out some of the newest forms of genetic engineering that companies like Monsanto are now using. This level of intentional corporate sabotage of our rights is the ultimate betrayal, and we can't let it stand or be silent any longer! 
More details of this outrageous betrayal will be forthcoming as our movement needs to stay laser focused on defeating this toxic deal in the Senate before they leave for recess on Friday of this week. 

Thanks for participating in food democracy,

Dave Murphy
Founder / Executive Director
Food Democracy Now!

1. “Roberts, Stabenow reach deal on GMO labeling”, Agri-Pulse, June 22, 2016 "JLI Reacts to GMO Labeling Deal in Senate", Stonyfield Yogurt's Gary Hirshberg's Treasonous Lie “EXCLUSIVE: Just Label It organization a GMO greenwashing corporate front group, say industry insiders”, Natural News, March 06, 2015 Corporate Sabotage of the GMO labeling Movement: How Stonyfield, Just Label It and EWG sold us out! “The Organic Elite Surrenders To Monsanto: What Now?”, Huffington Post, Ronnie Cummings February 28, 2011 
For historical reference: This is not the first time Stonyfield, Whole Foods and Organic Valley have worked together to sell out the American public and organic farmers. Remember, there are no accidents in politics.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Giving It Away to Developers: Defend Sarasota County Wednesday

From Dan Lobeck

July 6

9 am
County Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota

Neighborhoods, Nature and Mobility under Attack

Giving It Away to Developers
County Commission Public Hearing on Comprehensive Plan “Update”

The Sarasota County Commission's Comprehensive Plan “Update” is up for its last public hearing this Wednesday before it goes to the state and comes back for its final public hearing in October.  Citizens will be allowed to speak for up to five minutes each.

This thinly disguised move to eliminate important controls on developers is being promoted with the slogan, “Today, Tomorrow, Together.”  The only people moving together on this, however, are our County Commissioners and their patrons in the development industry.  The rest of us get left behind, with traffic gridlock, threatened neighborhoods and increased destruction of the natural environment.

Please attend the Wednesday hearing and speak against this assault on the public interest, if you can.  Also, you can email the County Commission at:  Email Your CountyCommissioners

It would be well to identify specific changes you oppose, together with comment generally on the others.  It is possible the County Commission could relent on some of the changes.  At least one County Commissioner, for example, recently expressed reluctance to support the proposed change to the neighborhood compatibility policy.

Among the many measures on the chopping block are the following:
  • Neighborhood compatibility protections
  • Concurrency, the rule that developers must produce traffic studies and pay their proportionate share of needed road improvements
  • The square foot limit on the size of commercial centers
  • The requirement that the County plan for needed infrastructure over a ten year period, leaving only planning for five years at a time
  • The requirement that affordable housing built with density bonuses in mixed use centers remain affordable, be built to green standards and have a jobs-housing balance
  • The level of service C standard for county roads, lowering it to D and thereby accepting more traffic congestion
  • Current protections of wetlands and other natural habitat from development impacts
  • Environmental and other “quality of life” standards for new businesses sought for the County

A fuller analysis of this proposed destruction of important protections of the public interest is set forth below.
  -- Dan Lobeck
      Join Control Growth Now


The policy which for decades has required the County Commission to reduce the density or intensity of a proposed development if needed to achieve compatibility with a nearby neighborhood would be deleted.  Also deleted would be a provision for increased lot sizes in the new development for compatibility.  All that would be left is basically nothing, that is just a recognition that the Zoning Code already has measures to reduce some incompatibility by measures that include buffers, setbacks, open space and locations of roads, dumpsters and the like.  This would remove an important tool the County Commission has used frequently (including recently to lessen the impacts of a high rise development next to Wellington Chase homes and requiring an enhanced buffer and berm next to Silver Oak homes, both in Palmer Ranch).  [Policy 1.2.9(A)]

Expands commercial development at I-75 Interchanges by allowing it all four quadrants, rather than only to west and south as at present.  (Policy 2.5.6)

Promotes urban sprawl by deleting the words “within the Urban Service Area” to describe where public  facilities and services needed to support development will be provided.  (Core Principles)

Eliminates the square footage limit on the size of Commercial Centers.   Also, the maximum “floor area ratio”, that is the amount of a lot in a Commercial Center which may be covered by building of various stories, is greatly increased.  These changes would seriously worsen traffic congestion at some of the most overcrowded intersections and roadways in Sarasota County, to no good end. (Current Policy 3.2.4; others including Policy 2.5.4)

The requirement for “affordable housing” in return for density increases in “mixed use” areas would be gutted, by eliminating the requirement that the units remain affordable “perpetually”, that is after the first sale or rental.   This would allow an apartment developer to simply subsidize the initial rentals to get the density bonus and then raise the rents after that, without creating an affordable product.   Also deleted are requirements for "green" construction and for a study shows a good balance of jobs and housing.   These changes were pushed through the Planning Commission by a developer and a construction company executive on that body who build apartment complexes.  At least their proposal to increase the density bonus to 100 units per acre was opposed by the County Commission at their initial hearing.  In any event, this policy does little for truly affordable housing, in return for a density increase which can create traffic and other problems.  It does this by merely requiring that half the units which are granted in excess of the regular density limit are "affordable" to those making 100 percent of area median income (that is mortgaged for not more than $243,849 or rent not more than $1,518 per month for a family of four) and one-fifth of those are "affordable" to those making 80 percent of that income.   Again, though, that requirement is illusory if it just applies to the first rental or sale.  [Policy 1.2.7 (A),(C) and (D)]

Allows development where adequate roads capacity is not available, by tying that policy only to “concurrency-related” facilities, considering that the Transportation Chapter would eliminate transportation concurrency. 
Broadly allows developers to exceed maximum densities in the Plan by deleting all limits on “Residential Enclaves” anywhere in the Urban Service Area except barrier islands.  [Policy 1.3.3(B)]

Deletes the current prohibition of development in a 100 year floodplain which would adversely affect the function of the floodplains and degrade water body quality, by allowing that development so long as it is “mitigated”, a very loosed and weak standard.  [Policy 1.2.4(B)]

Deletes the policy which states, “Establish a system to measure new developments and determine whether the developments employ smart growth principles to help promote a sustainable community.” (Former Policy 4.1.2, was previously proposed a Policy 3.2.6 but is now proposed to be deleted)

Changes various important “governing” principles instead to only “guiding” principles.

Eliminates the provision that the County’s mobility policy be “neighborhood-based.”  [Policy 1.2.6(c)]

Deletes the important goal of protecting the natural environment, neighborhoods, agriculture and historical resources . (Goal1)

Deletes the provision to “preserve” agricultural lands.  (Policy 2.3.a, former Objective 1.3)
Deletes the requirement that the County will coordinate future land use with environmental characteristics and the availability of facilities.  (Goal 2)

Deletes the statement that the County ensure that adequate public facilities are available concurrent with (that is, at the same time as) development.  The new wording shifts to accommodation of development.  At a minimum, the sentence should be changed to re-insert the word “ensure” so that the objective is not subsumed into the encouragement of development.  (Objective 3.1, former Objective 2.2)

Deletes the  requirement that the County plan for needed infrastructure improvements, such as roads, schools, parks, utilities and other facilities, for a ten-year period.  (Objective 3.1, was Objective 2.2)
Deletes the statement that development will be accommodated “to the extent such growth is financially feasible.”  Stating instead, as proposed, “Encourage development where public facilities are provided or scheduled to be available” is much less restrictive.   (Goal 3)

Adds “intensity” to what may be increased in multi-modal overlays, which would allow increased nonresidential development in addition to the increased residential density allowed at present.  Doing so could be used to allow incompatible commercial and other nonresidential development near neighborhoods where it is not allowed today, and increase traffic congestion. (Policy 4.3.2)


Eliminates concurrency, the long-standing requirement that developers must pay for and submit traffic studies and pay their proportionate share of needed road improvements that exceed their impact fees. (Policy 1.3.12)

Lowers the level of service on County roads within the Urban Service Area from C to D.  While it has been stated that the current standards are unrealistic and that we must accept more traffic congestion than we do today, that would at least partially be resolved if the County abandoned its 47.5% cut in impact fees throughout most of the urban area, and other impact fee cuts.  This revision is part of the move to embrace traffic congestion in order to allow developers to overcrowd our roads, a move which is strongly at odds with public opinion and the public interest. (Policy 1.3.2)

Promotes a “Complete Streets” program which staff clearly states includes  the crazy concept of “road diets” to shrink existing roads -- such as turning a four lane road into two lanes --  in order to make driving more difficult and force people out of cars onto walking, biking and riding buses that get caught in traffic too. (Multiple places in the text)

Requires that a new major (arterial) road be built within the next three years east of the Interstate between University Parkway and Clark Road to include the Bee Ridge Extension, to serve new urban sprawl planned in that area.  This would take priority over other needed road projects where people live today, including improvements to River Road required to eliminate deaths. (Policy 1.5.7)

The support materials for the Transportation Chapter should be revised to include the Introduction to that Chapter in the Comprehensive Plan at present, in particular the following paragraph, which at present is proposed to be deleted:  “Periods of rapid population growth and seasonal fluctuations in population, with the resulting increase in the number of automobiles, have combined in Sarasota to produce traffic congestion. This has been manifested not only in the conditions found on thoroughfares but also in the spillover of heavy traffic into residential neighborhoods as drivers sought to bypass the thoroughfares. In addition to congestion, traffic circulation issues include the need for adequate hurricane evacuation routes, and provision for police and fire emergency services.”


Destroys this very important requirement on developers:  “The clustering of residential developments or the implementation of other measures to first a void, then minimize and mitigate adverse environmental impacts shall be required whenever areas of significant native habitats are involved.”  This would be eliminated by striking the words “shall be required” and inserting the word “Encourage” at the beginning.  (Policy 1.3.6, replacing Policy 4.5.11)

Allows currently prohibited environmental destruction and adverse impacts so long as they are deemed “de minimus” (minor) by the developer’s consultant and accepted by the County.  That is a potentially serious new loophole, particularly because the standard is undefined.  (Principles for Evaluating Development Proposals in Native Habitats)

Weakens the current wetland protection being litigated in environmentalists’ challenge to the County allowing the developers of Whole Foods and Wawa stores to pave over a valuable urban wetland.  At present, if a wetland has value, it must be preserved unless “no other reasonable alternative exists.”  The amendment would allow that finding based on the “landscape context” and “long-term viability of the native habitat.”  In other words, if there is development around a valuable wetland, particularly if it is at all harmful to any habitat, the developer can use that to justify paving over the wetland.  (Principles, VI.2.j)

Deletes the strict requirement for 30 foot wetland buffers and 50 foot mesic hammock buffers, providing that a developer may provide “variable buffer widths” so long as the developer’s consultant says (and the County agrees) that will provide “equal or greater native habitat value.” (Principles, VI.2.j)

Deletes the County Objective to “Identify, manage and protect all ecological communities, habitat corridors and wildlife, especially critical habitats and endangered, threatened, and species of special concern identified in official federal, state, or international treaty lists.”  That is replaced with a much weaker Objective to “Identify, manage, and protect ecological communities, and native habitats.”  (Obj. 1.1, replacing Obj. 4.4)

Deletes the requirement that prior to disturbing any listed species and its habitat, a developer must identify them by recognized sampling techniques and provide such documentation to the County.  Instead, simply prior “coordination” with the government is required and as such the species and habitat identification can be conducted later.  (Policy 2.1.3, replacing Policy 4.4.4)

Deletes the Policy requiring that open space in a development “favor factors such as onsite and adjacent off-site habitat connectivity”, leaving in place only a weaker policy that requires connectivity to established greenways.  (Policy 1.3.3, replacing Policy 4.5.4)

Weakens the requirement that a developer remove invasive and nuisance vegetation in native habitats and conservation areas, by removing the word “maximum” from the present requirement that it be done “to the maximum extent practical.” (Policy 1.5.6, replacing Policy 4.6.6)

Weakens scrub jay protection by protecting them to “support” their persistence rather than “ensure” it, as at present.  (Policy 2.1.0, replacing Policy 4.4.8)

Deletes the conditions of necessity and feasibility for additional access to Gulf and bay waters. (Objective 4.3, former Obj. 1.3)
Deletes the requirement for the development of a Beach and Inlet Management strategy.  The statement of six short bullet points that deserve “consideration” by the County in managing its beaches and inlets is not a sufficient substitute for the plan which the Chapter currently requires be created by 2015. (Policy 4.7.1, replacing Policy 1.2.3)

Deletes the requirement of an Urban Forestry Management Plan (which has been overdue since 2006).  The new policies proposed to, in one sentence each, promote tree canopy and community gardens are sparse and unclear and do not adequately substitute for the presently required Plan.  (Policies 1.5.1 and 5.1.7, replacing Policy 4.6.1)

In a matter of some recent local controversy, deletes, “The County shall support and fund the Environmental Library.”  Originally, the proposal was to replace that with, “The county shall support and fund environmental education programs.”  Since public and press objections to actions even now  to dismantle the Environmental Library, on June 1 staff added to that, “,including a collection of environmental resources accessible to the public through the county library system.”  However, even that wording could allow the county library system to follow through on its moves to eliminate the Environmental Library at Selby Library and disperse what remains of the collection through the broader library and to colleges and elsewhere where the materials would be accessible “through” the library system, although not in it.  (Policy 5.1.2, replacing Policy 4.7.2)


Provides for increased densities in the Zoning Code by allowing more “accessory dwellings”, that is second homes on a one-home lot, than are allowed today.  This was added by a Planning Commissioner who is a building contractor and complained that he was limited by the current code.  (Policy 1.1.16)

Weakens a policy by deleting the word “most” from the requirement that housing density be effectively balanced with neighborhood compatibility, environmental sensitivity and housing diversity. (Policy 1.1.12)

Replaces the call for more affordable housing for persons of “extremely low, very low, low and moderate income” with housing merely for “households with an income of 120 percent or less of the AMI” (Adjusted Median Income).  (Objective 1.2)


At present, the Economic Development Chapter presents a balanced approach to the economy in Sarasota County, not only calling for new business but also serving existing businesses and recognizing the value and importance to our economy of tourism, adequate infrastructure, the natural environment, neighborhoods, education and arts and culture to the County’s economic development, as well as its quality of life.  The replacement Chapter strips all but a bare remnant of that away and leaves in its place a small handful of policies which promote workforce development, diversification of the economic base and agriculture, while imprudently advocating the repeal of regulations which may be beneficial to the public interest.

The staff explanations for these deletions show the contempt for these deleted values, such as “Neighborhood revitalization is not economic development” and “Tourism does not diversify the economic base.”
Proposed new Policies 2.2.2 and 3.1.3 should be eliminated.  It is reckless, for example, to call for the elimination of regulations that have the effect of prohibiting the attraction or expansion of a business.  That is because those regulations may serve an overriding public interest such as protection of important natural resources, neighborhood compatibility or transportation mobility.

The revision should not eliminate the current “Intent” which precedes the Goals, Objectives and Policies, in particular the statement, “The County has the responsibility to support and accommodate projected economic development activities while serving the public interest and not compromising the quality of life.” 

Most certainly, the “Guiding Principles for Determining Desirable Business and Industry” should not be deleted from the Chapter, with factors that include whether a business  “can meet or exceed Sarasota County environmental quality standards”, “promote long term, year round employment stability and promote long term, year-round employment opportunities”, “ will attract employees having a high degree of technical skill and education while at the same time offe r career opportunities for those having lesser skills or education”,  “will not consume large volumes of water and energy resources”,  “will not emit noxious fumes, odors, or waste products into the atmosphere, ground, or water”, “will share an interest in the well being of Sarasota County”, “will help Sarasota County maintain its superior quality of life”, “will vigorously work for better employment, education, medical, and cultural facilities for all Sarasota County's citizens”, “will work in harmony with and will support by doing business with existing business and industry in the area as feasible”, “will incorporate sustainability principles and practices into their operations and services” and “will be certified as a Sarasota County ‘Green Business’.”  The “Examples of desirable business and industries” also included in those Guiding Principles should also not be deleted.

Objective 1.4 should not be deleted.  It states, “Ensure County policies and regulations are consistent with and promote economic goals, develop public understanding and support for the economy and its connection to a sustained quality of life, and align community development issues, such as affordable housing, with economic efforts.”

Objective 1.5 should not be deleted.  It states, “Ensure the enhancement of business development opportunities by maintaining a “Quality of Life” component of those desirable community elements consisting of the preservation of the natural environment, enjoyment of arts, culture and recreation, educational excellence, and promoting social wellbeing, a healthy community, and keeping the community safe.”