Sunday, July 29, 2018

NACA Candidates Forum July 2018

Several candidates from both parties responded to the invitation of the Nokomis Area Civic Association to answer questions at at forum held on July 24, 2018 in Nokomis.

Candidates for the Sarasota County Commission in attendance:

Wesley Beggs
Alex Coe
Mike Cosentino
Ruta Marie Jouniari
Lourdes Ramirez

Commission Candidates who did not attend:

Al Maio (incumbent)
Christian Ziegler

Candidates for U.S. House District 17 in attendance:

Bill Akins
Julio Gonzalez
Greg Steube

Follow-up: Strongly worded email from John Ask to Commissioner Maio: 7.30.18 
It’s a sorry state of affairs when you’ve become so toxic to your community that you aren’t comfortable showing your face in public. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Fresh Start Presentation 4.25.18

County video of the April 25th Fresh Start presentation of four proposals for Quad Parcels 1 and 2 to the Board. 

The four proposals to the Board were outlined and Fresh Start was encouraged  to refine them and return with a report before the Board's vacation break.

Fresh Start returned on July 11 to present its proposal, which can be found here.

The April 25 begins at the 30 minute mark, and ends at 1 hr. 27 minutes:

UPDATE: Four housing tracts will overrun east Sarasota County without a public long range plan

Updated as of July 24, 2018:

If you live in Sarasota east of the Interstate, or if you like to experience the country roads of rural Florida, prepare for the shock of large-scale development. Several super-sized housing tracts are coming to East Sarasota. Four projects alone will add nearly 28,000 housing units on 20,705 acres.

Major developable swaths of east Sarasota County are either already underway or set to be approved before the inevitable next crash in the Sunshine State's housing cycle.

Sarasota County Map of developments to the East of I-75, north of Palmer Boulevard 

One of the four largest, Lakewood Ranch (LWR), ranks #5 among the "fastest growing suburbs in the US":

Sprawl: Fastest burbs in the US: LWR = #5

The four largest are Waterside at Lakewood Ranch (Rex Jensen), Hi Hat (Turner), LT Ranch (Turner) and Grand Lakes (Pat Neal). Stretching from University down to 681 near Venice in East Sarasota, these ambitious projects will replace East Sarasota's rural ranchlands and open space with huge tracts of housing.

And more gated housing projects are coming, including Lindvest, Lakepark Estates, Worthington, Palmer Place, Sylvan Lea, Hidden Creek, Rivo Lakes and more.

While quickly granting concessions to private developers, Sarasota County's elected Board displays no evident awareness of its civic responsibility to gauge cumulative impacts, nor, as the public steward of the land, to integrate these impacts within a larger vision of intrinsic tradition and commitment to public uses. One looks in vain for a discussion of bringing greenways or waterways into alignment to create walking paths, wildlife corridors, kayakable sloughs and riding trails that could offer the people of Sarasota public recreation North to South, and East to West.

During a public discussion of a County proposal to reduce open space requirements for developers, one resident put it this way: "If we make changes like this, it changes the character of Sarasota County that was the reason many of us came here."

Here's a brief overview of the four largest developments that are either underway or whose plans have received approval:

Rex Jensen's Waterside at Lakewood Ranch
It’s the first project coming to fruition in Schroeder-Manatee Ranch’s Waterside at Lakewood Ranch, a 5,144-home, 5,500-acre development in Sarasota County set around a series of seven large lakes left over from SMR’s aggregate mining operations. 
The Waterside project generally runs from Interstate 75 to east of Lorraine Road and between University Parkway and Fruitville Road. It is located south of the Sarasota Polo Club and the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park.


"Waterside" will add 5,144 units, 5,500 acres


Turner Family: Hi Hat Ranch 

Stretching from Fruitville Road to Clark Road, this 10,000-acre mega-development of a former ranch will add an estimated 12,000 homes. 

Hearing July 11, 9 a.m. County Commission Chambers.

UPDATE: Board Action: Hi Hat Petition Approved July 11.

Add: 12,000 units, 10,000 acres


Turner Family: LT Ranch

This former ranch is approved and underway. It will start with 3,450 units and grow to some 9,344 units stretching from Clark Road down to 681.
LT Ranch
". . . the 1,725-acre property owned by the Turner family will break ground in the “2050 South Village” mixed-use development plan for the largely rural stretch leading out to the Myakka River State Park. 
"The massive project includes up to 3,450 residential units throughout the neighborhoods, up to 300,000 square feet of commercial space at the corner of Clark Road and Bee Ridge Extension, and a host of environmental and road improvements throughout the area, according to the plans." Herald Tribune 11.9.2016

UPDATE: Apparently this wasn't "massive" enough, because the Sarasota County Board in 2014 deviated from the Comp Plan to allow a more ambitious development:
Property owners planning to add a village on 4,672 acres near Clark Road and Interstate 75 got a lot more leeway Wednesday on how and when they build. 
County commissioners decided to amend the county’s 2050 growth plan to allow the owners, 3H Ranch LLC and LT Partners LLLP, to create 9,344 homes on the land, roughly 5,500 to 6,300 more than the guidelines permit. Herald Tribune 3.5.2014

Add: 9,344 units, 4,672 acres


West of LT Ranch, Pat Neal's "Grand Lakes" proposes to put 1,000 homes on 533 acres south of Clark Road at Ibis. The number of Pat Neal dwellings all told in Sarasota County will soon approach 10,000 units.

Hearing continued to July 11, 1:30 pm at Commission Chambers.

UPDATE: Board Action: Neal's Grand Lakes approved despite one-road access* was approved. The action raised a potential public safety issue for this giant cul de sac -- an issue acknowledged, but not addressed, by the Commissioners. Neighbors are considering options for an appeal, and say the Board ruling could open the way to sprawl across East Sarasota County.

See also the Letter to the Editor titled "Something is suspicious in Neal project approval":
All of the 300 current homeowners on Ibis were confined to their property earlier this year when a fire closed the road for hours. Now the county approves 1,100 additional homes, nearly a 400 percent increase, without fixing the egress issue on a dead-end street.
Grand Lakes
Add: 1,000 units, 533 acres


If all these tracts are approved as planned, they'll add more than 27,600 units to 20,705 acres of a rural area sparsely connected by two-lane country roads, which has no commercial, park or recreational areas. More are on the drawing boards -- including the 450-acre Lindvest tract at Fruitville and Dog Kennel Road, with 900 units. Changes to the 2050 Comprehensive Plan have helped Lindvest progress. Is Sarasota County going to answer these private developments with a balancing vision of public uses -- open spaces, trails, adequate roads and and recreational areas available to all? 

Here's a December 2017 Sarasota County map of developments between Fruitville Road and University Parkway:

Developments in NE Sarasota County: Source: Sarasota County

It's time to ask our elected officials: What are you thinking? Are you even thinking? What is this Board, as our representative, doing in response to this appetite for rampant growth? 

Here, for example, is a map of East County, with athletic fields open to the public. For those living east of the highway, one must drive 9-10 miles to the west or south.

Will our elected commissioners address the need for public planning and adjust impact fees to prepare for the coming demand for roads, trails, amenities, commerce, arts and recreation, or will they abdicate responsible governance, do nothing, and have us all go hang?

*Sarasota News Leader story made available through kind permission of the publisher.

Monday, July 23, 2018

How American Economics is Ruining Your Life

Why America Collapsed Instead of Joining the Modern World
Umair Haque
“Hey, everyone! I have a great idea! Let’s replace public libraries with…Amazon!” Cue thousands of mocking, ridiculing, and outraged replies. LOL. Have you ever heard a more tragically foolish idea? But wait.

The really jaw-dropping part isn’t what was said — it’s who said it. The man making the statement above is…the head of an economics department at a major university. What the…? Do you see how weird and funny and terrible this is? It’s like if a doctor told you to go out and smoke more. If an engineer told you to build a Golden Gate Bridge out of Styrofoam. If a stylist said to dress like Donald Trump. The oracle has become the nitwit. But why? What does it tell us?

American economics is a dismal failure — so much so that it’s not an understatement by now to say it’s one of history’s great failed ideologies, like Soviet Communism. Not because I say so — but simply because the evidence more or less irrefutably proves it. Americans live uniquely terrible lives. Short, nasty, brutish, lonely, mean, unhappy. How much so? Life expectancy is higher in Chile, for example. It’s almost impossible to overstate just how uniquely bad American life is — school shootings, medical bankruptcies, young people trying to crowdfund insulin, skyrocketing suicide rates, opioid epidemics, one year olds on trial. These things don’t happen anywhere else in the world, really. Not even poor countries. And yet Americans live uniquely wretched and ruined lives not because the hand of fate fell — but largely because American economics destined them to. How so?

Consider a tiny fact. You’ll never, ever, ever once hear an American school of economics suggest that a society should have more of any of the following: Hospitals, schools, universities, parks, libraries, safety nets, pensions, retirements, incomes, assets. Don’t you think that’s a little odd? I do. After all, those are precisely the things that elevate our quality of life the most. I’ve never once heard an American economist of any renown calling for an American NHS, BBC, French pensions system, free German college — let alone the awesome Scandinavian idea of paying people to get an education, which we’ll return to. Have you? In fact, aren’t they always suggesting privatizing everything in sight, so that societies have less of all those things? Don’t you think that’s well, weird and tragic? Something like medieval doctors calling for blood-letting?

(Sure — they might call for them in the guise of “stimulus.” “Freshwater” economists, to be precise. But that’s as a response, as a reaction, to economic difficulties. It doesn’t change the fact that they won’t recommend better public goods, as we often say, a priori, something that is good in and of itself, prior to circumstances, as a cause, not as an effect. See how weird it is?)

Now, what’s the result? Well, the result is a society without those very public goods — no American BBC, National Health Service, and so on. So the basics of life, healthcare, finance, education, transportation, and so on — are in chronic shortage which means everyone must compete bitterly for them. These good are attached to jobs; they aren’t rights. And that means life has become something like a brutal, omnipresent contest for existence. Every man for himself — every person against every person — for what? For the basics of a decent life. There aren’t enough of them because economists say there shouldn’t be.

It’s obvious to say that American economists have been proven badly, fatally wrong. Laughably so — like the engineer recommending the styrofoam bridge. The world doesn’t listen to them, and is much better off for it. Europeans live vastly better lives — longer, happier, richer, closer — precisely because they don’t have American economists teaching them foolish, mistaken, lessons. So they didn’t end up with societies strip-mined of the basics of decent lives, but societies rich in them. Think about it. If Britain had listened to American economists, it never would have had a BBC, or NHS. If Germany had, it never would’ve had free education and a working retirement system. See how funny — and how tragic — it is?

Which brings us back to the question: why is American economics something like the 21st century’s most explosively, spectacularly failed set of ideas? Why will American economists choose Amazon (LOL) over public libraries? It sounds like a tiny example — but it contains in it the whole story.

When you think about a “civilized” place, what do you think of? Public goods. Paris, New York, London: subways, museums, art galleries, avenues, squares, hospitals, libraries. So to have public goods is the defining act of this thing we call “civilization” — and it’s always been true. The Romans weren’t civilized because they made war on half the world — but because they built aqueducts and forums and Senates. Do you see the link?

Why are public goods the beating heart of civilization? On one level, you might think, “well, they’re a way for people to pool their resources, and create things no one alone can enjoy.” I can’t afford a whole library. I can’t afford a whole park in the middle of a city. I can’t afford a hospital. But together, we all can — and then we all have the right to use them, too. Simple — and in a way, beautiful. But that’s only the beginning of the story of public goods and civilization — the very story that American economists never seemed to learn.

I have a working healthcare system — a public one. What happens next? Well, I’m healthy. Physically, and mentally, too — I don’t live my life in constant fear and pressure and despair of getting sick. So I’m a happier person. My relationships are better because I’m a happier person. Because my healthcare isn’t tied to a “job”, I can go out and start that business, go get that degree, go write that novel. Maybe I discover a cure for a great disease. Maybe I invent something grand and noble. Maybe I write a novel that teaches people a great moral lesson. What’s happened in my tiny example — which is overstretched, to be sure? A chain reaction of better lives. Me, my family, my community, society, democracy. Ignited by one public good — healthcare.

Now. In economic terms, we’d say that public goods have “positive externalities”. That is, they have hidden benefits, which are difficult to see at the outset, even to count. But that’s precisely why they are so desirable. Think of the public library. We don’t know which kid, spending all his afternoons there, because he’s different, will be tomorrow’s Einstein, Hawking, Jobs, or Malala. The hidden benefits are uncountable, in a very real sense.

American economics preaches the very opposite of all the above. Whenever something has positive externalities, those very hidden and uncounted benefits should be “internalized”, it says — owned. And so you go very naturally from public libraries to Amazon. Amazon “internalizes” the “positive externality” so that “investors” can get their return — or else things are “unproductive”. But then we need corporations with shareholders to divide up the profits — voila, Amazon, instead of that public library. Hence, everything’s privatized — and nothing’s public. Only capitalism is allowed — ever. Remember the medieval doctors and the bloodletting? Exactly.

Only none of that’s true. Just because I don’t know who tomorrow’s Jonas Salk will be, doesn’t mean that I don’t benefit from a polio vaccine. Just because I don’t know who tomorrow’s Einstein will be, doesn’t mean I don’t benefit from a theory of relativity. And just because I don’t “capture”, financially, the benefits of your use of a public healthcare system — you’re happier, you have better relationships, you’re more creative, fearless, and wise — doesn’t mean that I don’t receive them. Sure I do. I benefit from the things that you create in indirect ways. That great novel you write helps stabilize the democracy I live in. That disease you cure might save the life of the person I love. And so on.

So public goods, through positive externalities, vastly amplify a society’s potential quality of life. They do that by elevating the human potential of everyone in it. Why do we charge people hundreds of thousands in America for an education? Wouldn’t we all be better off if it were simply free? It is in Germany. In parts of Scandinavia, you’re paid to get an education. That’s the fairest deal of all — because that knowledge and creativity and intellect will go on to benefit everyone. So why not pay you for something that will benefit everyone, forever? Do you see how obvious all this is — and how much more the bizarre that American economists don’t seem capable of getting it?

We should want everyone to go the doctor regularly. Get a good education. Have a retirement. Read books. Go to the museum. That is when everyone else benefits most, too — from having intelligent, humane, wise, courageous people around them. What benefits do we all have when everyone realizes themselves in that way? We sustain democracy. We keep on generating breakthroughs. We don’t succumb to authoritarians. We are gentle people, living happy and meaningful lives — not barbarians trying to mow each other down, to outdo the next person, because there isn’t enough healthcare to go around. Do you see the link?

When you think about it, all that’s just another way to say “civilization”, isn’t it? And the weird, sad, gruesome tragedy is that American economists denied that people should be civilized. And so here America is. Something like the rich world’s first failed state — the one that, even though it grew rich, never really invested in civilizing itself. And that is how America never modernized. it collapsed instead.


July 2018

Friday, July 20, 2018

Candidates at the Waldemere Fire Station

Tony Mowry gets up to answer a question at the Waldemere Fire Station r.: Mowry, Linda Yates, Liv Coleman, David Shapiro, Jan Schneider

Five candidates came out to the Waldemere Fire Station Thursday evening, July 19, at the invitation of the Florida Veterans for Common Sense. They are:

District 16 - Buchanan’s seat

David Shapiro  
rial Lawyer - candidate for US House of Reps.

Jan Schneider
Lawyer - “running this time for healthcare.”

State House District 74 

Tony Mowry
Veteran, elder law attorney, lives in Venice. Military JAG - defense council

Commissioner, North Port - originally from NY.

State House District 73

Liv Coleman - 
Grew up in Minnesota, 38 yrs old. Teaches int’l affairs and poly-sci in Tampa, husband teaches at New College. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Traces of corruption in Sarasota County?

Two excellent letters to the editor:
The recent text messages between Sarasota County School Board member Eric Robinson and Sheriff Tom Knight provide an unpleasant yet much needed glimpse of local politics.
Mr. Robinson should theoretically favor a balanced budget, with more money spent on education. Instead he is caught trying to undermine the institution he should protect.
Clearly the public life of Sarasota County is run by political “elites” in conjunction with the real estate developers who fund them. The methods are chilling.
Public support? No problem. Sheriff Knight can start a “letter writing campaign” to deceive residents into thinking the public agrees with him.
More pressure? Evidently the county commissioners are in the bag for Robinson. He makes a few calls and the puppets move as directed.
Need county staff? Another Robinson phone call assures their support. Manipulate the press? Covered.
If this is only one public document request, what have we missed?
We are entitled to elected officials who actually support the institutions and boards they are elected to serve and whose first concern is the public good.
If Mr. Robinson controls county commissioners and staff, we deserve to know it. We are also entitled to believe that public input actually reflects people’s opinions, instead of a manufactured “letter writing campaign” meant to deceive.
I urge voters to carefully research political candidates, including their campaign finance reports on the supervisor of elections website,
Let’s hope more comes out of this than officials talking on the phone to avoid a public-records request.
Deborah Anderson, Venice

I want to draw attention to the latest attempt by developers to gain influence in Sarasota County civil institutions, in their never-ending scramble for profits. Their latest target is the one institution that should be above politics and special interest — our court system.
Judge Judy Goldman submitted her “surprise” resignation letter shortly before the qualifying date for potential candidates, to become effective four days before her term ends. The timing precluded a November election, allowing our governor to pick the next judge instead of the voters.
Who suggests judicial nominees to our governor? A committee that includes developer Pat Neal and several attorneys who list real estate and construction as their specialties. Why bother to sue a developer when they help pick the judges?
So what do we have here? A judge who times her resignation to prevent voters from exercising their right to vote, a governor with a demonstrated affinity for developers based on his previous appointments, and a judicial nominating committee dominated by development interests.
The losers in this situation? The residents whose right to vote has been stolen and who will predictably end up with another judge who owes his or her job to development interests.
The rule of law is the foundation of our country. We are entitled to a fair, unbiased judiciary that is above politics and special interests. I urge residents to educate themselves about the wholly inappropriate influence that developers have in our community and vote accordingly.
Deborah Anderson, Venice

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Florida "lawmakers" fight the Law - Stop the Appeal!

From Becky Ayech:

Court follows will of the voters to fund land conservation but Legislature fights to keep the money!  Stop the appeal!

You can help stop the effort to overturn the biggest conservation victory we had in Florida in years (and maybe ever).
Remember back in 2014 when 75% of Florida voters approved a ballot initiative known as “Amendment 1” to secure annual, dedicated funding for land acquisition? That victorious constitutional amendment effort should have ensured billions of dollars for conservation land but the Legislature diverted the money leaving us with dying springs, algae-choked rivers, bays and estuaries, a alternatively parched/drowned and polluted Everglades, and tourists and businesses running away from our beaches.

Now, after waiting over 3 years for the court to weigh in on the Legislature’s refusal to abide by the constitution, we have gotten justice:  On June 15 the circuit judge ordered the state to use the nearly $700 million a year to acquire, manage, and restore new conservation lands
Conservation won big at the ballot box and again in court!  But wait - the Legislature is now threatening to appeal this important ruling.  We have to stop the appeal in its tracks.
The Legislature is wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting this case in court. Every day they fight the voters is another day wasted when we could be preserving the most beautiful places in Florida and protecting the state’s economic bread and butter – our natural resources – forever. 

The court decision on June 15 that would give us 700 million a year to buy and manage critical conservation land is being challenged – help stop the appeal!

PLEASE bcc  This is my email account that I want to use to keep tract of the number of emails sent.  I will NOT keep, share or use for any other purpose.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Public Uses for Public Lands at the Celery Fields: July 11, 2018 Report, Fresh Start

Note: The entire Fresh Start report (111 pages) can be downloaded here.

Here is the report of the Fresh Start Initiative to the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners:

To:     The Board of Sarasota County Commissioners
From: The Fresh Start Initiative
Re:     Update Report
Date:  July 11, 2018

The Executive Council of Fresh Start is pleased to present this update report, Public Uses for Public Lands at the Celery Fields, which offers our communities’ sense of the highest and best use of the quad parcels at Apex and Palmer Boulevard at the Celery Fields.

This update focuses on progress made since our last report of April 25th, 2018 (our prior reports are attached for ease of reference). We anticipate that you will address this community request for action after your summer break, and we look forward to a positive outcome for our community.

Brief background

On Nov. 28th, 2017, the Board granted the Fresh Start Initiative time to determine the priorities of our communities in the area of the Celery Fields with regard to appropriate and feasible uses for two of the three Quad parcels. Specifically you removed parcel #1 from the surplus list, and chose not to put parcel #2 out for sale pending the Fresh Start effort. You directed that a consultant be hired to rezone parcel #3 for “highest and best use,” with the intent to sell it. [Minutes (1)]

On April 25th, we reported that our residents and an advisory panel had examined over 40 conceptual ideas and proposals from our communities. Through a process of expert evaluation and rigorous community selection (method described in April 25th presentation), four proposals were deemed to best meet the four criteria of feasibility, compatibility with the area, utility to the neighbors, and economic viability:

For Parcel 1:
1. A multi-use community facility - trails, gardens, a wedding pavilion, meeting area.
2. A Celery Fields-themed nature lodge/restaurant with platforms for birders.
For Parcel 2:
3. A boulevard style set of shops, fooderies, and upstairs residences.
4. Outdoor sports courts and fields built, run, and maintained by the Sarasota YMCA.
The community expressed the highest support -- 84% -- for option 4, the $1 million YMCA proposal featuring pickleball, tennis, basketball, a shaded exercise area, open sports field, parking, pavilion and gourmet food truck area. Since April, at your direction we have focused on refining that proposal and addressing questions raised in our individual meetings with the Board and with staff in May and June.

Survey and Site Analysis

In May, Fresh Start performed a short survey (4) of its HOAs asking what sports fields -- for soccer, baseball, football -- and sports courts -- pickleball, tennis, and basketball -- currently are available to them. It turns out that none of these facilities are publicly available East of I-75. To reach the nearest tennis, baseball or soccer fields required drives of up to 9 miles. It turns out that nearly all public sports fields and courts lie west of the Interstate at Colonial Oaks, Fruitville Park, 17th Street, each with limited facilities to serve its nearby communities.

Also in the past couple of months, Tampa-based SEER Analytics performed a site study authorized by the Sarasota YMCA which is attached to this report (3). It reveals a substantial user base within a short radius of parcel #2: More than 43,500 households would be within easy driving distance of the facility. The SEER study includes detailed demographic data and finds a ready community of households to make use of a YMCA facility there.

Learning & volunteering: YMCA and Audubon

We’ve also learned more about the YMCA’s range of programs for children. In certain counties, YMCAs lease parklands to provide summer camps. At the Celery Fields, the Sarasota Y could offer a rich array of children’s programs making great use of the natural treasures right next door. Think of kids birding with Audubon volunteers, and fishing, hiking, and kayaking with YMCA leaders. A YMCA at the Celery Fields would amplify the range and richness of what our community’s seniors and children can experience.

Zooming Out

We thank you for the opportunity to present these proposals, which grew out of a half-year of serious community outreach, consultation, feedback and choices. The ball is now in your court. As a final consideration, let’s zoom out from this present moment, and remember what brought us to this point.

On August 23, 2017, this Board experienced the community’s shock and outrage that an open air industrial waste facility would even be considered for parcel #2:
  • Residents of neighborhoods that didn’t exist when the area was zoned MEC in 1983 spoke of profound changes the area has seen, and how much the Celery Fields means to them. 
  • Environmental groups reminded you of the County’s extraordinary good fortune in having an eco-tourist wonderland attractive to 224 species of birds evolve from a stormwater project. 
  • Citizens wondered what planning principles and vision would allow consideration of heavy industrial uses in this ecologically sensitive area with fragile roads.
After the August 23, 2017 hearing, many believed the Board would direct staff to take a fresh look at this area, consult residents, and work to optimize its potential. Fresh Start arose out of that concern. Even now, a year later, an industrial proposal could compromise the community.

If we zoom out further, big projects are coming. Large-scale housing tracts plan more than 27,000 homes on 20,700 acres stretching from University Parkway at the north end down past Fruitville, Bee Ridge, and Clark roads to SR 681 near Venice. Sarasota County’s open spaces and country roads are vanishing forever.

Commissioners, it is the responsibility of your office to evaluate these large proposed developments in light of public infrastructure, services, and amenities. We take this opportunity to assert the public’s right to a vision that balances private development with public needs.

Fresh Start urges the Board to take this small step towards a proactive vision and a positive direction for the future of Sarasota’s people. On behalf of our 50 communities we ask your support for a YMCA sports facility on the 10.6 acres of Quad Parcel #2. Ideally, all four quad parcels should be dedicated to sensible, interrelated uses that will become more acutely necessary as East Sarasota builds out. Staff has outlined the requisite re-zoning actions for each of our four proposals (8).

Sarasota County is at a significant crossroads: The Board can dedicate these public lands to optimal public uses, or sell them to industrial developer

                               THIS        . . .               or                      THIS? 

Vote for your community’s future: Let’s make a healthy fresh start at the Quads for East Sarasota County.

Thank you.

The Fresh Start Executive Council

Glenna Blomquist, Carlos Correa, Tom Matrullo, Gary Walsh

Public Parcels at Apex Rd. and Palmer Blvd.

                                                          Parcel 1: Off Surplus List
                                                          Parcel 2: Fresh Start
                                                          Parcel 3: Consultant Rezone

Supporting Documents

Single Member District Board Actions - SAFE Notice

Single Member District supporters:



Please put the August 29 1:30 meeting in Sarasota on your calendar as well. That is where opponents may be out in force.  “All interested parties are invited to appear and be heard.” 

Here are the relevant documents:

FOLLOW us on Twitter and DONATE whatever you can to help our campaign reach VICTORY in November.  Every contribution helps, no matter how small.
Together we can change history in Sarasota County!

Kindra Muntz

Monday, July 9, 2018

Grand Lakes opens way to sprawl, homeowners say

Below is a Press Release expressing concerns with the Pat Neal proposal for Grand Lakes, a 1,097 unit housing project that violates core principles of 2050 planning, according to neighboring homeowners. 

According to this analysis, the Neal proposal "would set aside the compact mixed-use development requirements that are intended to prevent urban sprawl east of I-75."

Coupled with these concerns is a critique of County staff review of this proposal. The homeowners, who are working with a planner and an attorney, state that  
. . . the current staff report ignores the county’s previous findings that this change violates a core principle. This time around, staff doesn’t bother to analyze the proposal or say why their 2050 Revisited analysis doesn’t still apply.”
 If allowed to proceed under the proposed changes to the rules, the development of Grand Lakes
 will promote sprawl and encourage disjointed patchwork development—exactly the things the 2050 plan is meant to discourage,” says another critic, R. N. Collins.
Part of the concern is that the relaxation of the core 2050 principles would open the way for future, large-scale developments such as 12,000-unit Hi Hat Ranch to sprawl rather than conform to contained village templates that link residential and commercial use in a constructive and meaningful manner.


The integrity of the Sarasota 2050 plan faces a two-pronged attack this week. 
In addition to the proposed relaxation of village development rules at the 10,000-acre Hi Hat Ranch, the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners will consider developer Pat Neal’s proposal to eliminate a 2050 plan requirement that every village either contains a mixed-use commercial center or is directly connected to one.
According to county staff, Sarasota 2050 is based on three primary tenets that include open space and connected systems preservation, compact mixed-use development, and fiscal neutrality.
Neal’s proposed change—which would apply to all future village developments—would set aside the compact mixed-use development requirements that are intended to prevent urban sprawl east of I-75.  If approved, Neal would be able to build a 1,097-unit subdivision, called Grand Lakes, on a 533-acre sod farm two miles south of Twin Lakes Park on a dead-end country road.
Eliminating the village center was considered in 2014 when the county reexamined the entire plan in a public initiative known as 2050 Revisited.  A group of large landowners and developers, including Neal, proposed eliminating the mixed-use center.  But the change was rejected because the county’s analysis determined that, without direct access to a commercial center, a core 2050 plan principle would be violated.
Neal is again asking for the same change, but through a privately initiated process that sidesteps the more rigorous scrutiny under a public initiative process that the proposal faced during 2050 Revisited. 
Dave Anderson, a homeowner who lives near Neal’s proposed subdivision, says, “In fact, the current staff report ignores the county’s previous findings that this change violates a core principle.  This time around, staff doesn’t bother to analyze the proposal or say why their 2050 Revisited analysis doesn’t still apply.”
Anderson leads a group of concerned citizens who oppose the proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment and the proposed subdivision.  The group says that the county is ignoring its own rules.  They have engaged an expert planner and Ralf Brookes, an attorney specializing in land-use matters, to help them.
“If approved, this proposal will have far-reaching effects.  It will allow developers to reap the private benefit of additional density without providing an offsetting public benefit. It will allow traditional subdivisions to be built in the village areas, and it will promote sprawl and encourage disjointed patchwork development—exactly the things the 2050 plan is meant to discourage,” says another critic, R. N. Collins.
“It is a shame when citizens have to dig into their own pockets just to make sure the planning officials follow their own rules,” Anderson laments.  “It is very discouraging to know that, if the board ignores the merits of our arguments and approves these proposals, the only recourse available to the public is very costly litigation.”
The group notes that recent approvals over citizens well-reasoned objections make it appear that the board favors developer economic concerns over the public interest of orderly, long-range planning.   
For more information, contact:
Dave Anderson
(941) 228-0309

This link goes to video of the Grand Lakes Hearing of May 23, 2018, which was continued to July 11, 2018.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Meet the candidates at the CONA Forum

Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations—CONA 
meet candidates at 6:30 pm and attend forum at 
7:00 pm Monday, July 9, 2018

_____ candidate forum _____ 

county commission district two race

Alexandra Coe, Ruta Maria Jouniari, and Christian Zeigler have been invited to participate in the CONA forum at 7 pm on Monday, July 9, 2018. They are all of the candidates qualified to run in the district two race for the county commission in the August primary. Voters elect all county commissioners, who are supposed to represent the entire county. Candidates run in the race for the district in which they reside.

The forum is free and open to the public. Written questions may be submitted in advance or at the forum to be included, as time allows, following the questions posed by our moderator.

_______ plus ______ 

meet qualified candidates for all local primary races

Qualified candidates for any scheduled local race are welcome to attend the 6:30 social before the 7:00 CONA forum in order to make contact with voters and to distribute literature and yard signs, even if not scheduled as a member of the panel for the forum. Because so few forums are scheduled, we are providing this opportunity for all local race candidates.

CONA election forums will be held each month through October at the Sarasota Garden Club 1131 Boulevard of the Arts see for calendar dates and directions