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Highlights of April 1, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting

Highlights of April 1, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting


Dr. Dave Tomasko from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program gave a presentation on water quality improvements since the height of red tide in 2018-19.

Senior Planner Dr. Clifford Smith shared concrete insights about the importance of the McAlpin house in Sarasota’s architectural story and cultural fabric. Residents explained that if we allow our history to be consumed by speculative developers who don’t respect our unique city or preservation ordinances, “Sarasota isn’t going to be Sarasota anymore.”

After a blustery Commissioner Arroyo argued that maximizing investors’ bottom lines was the priority, Mayor Alpert moved to continue the item to May 6.


Deflecting ALL empirical data and input from urban design experts, neighborhood leaders, and knowledgeable residents, Commissioners Arroyo and Battie pushed through a zoning overlay formula for the main entries to the city (41, Fruitville, 301) which will invite canyons, overtax transportation infrastructure, and contribute to eroding the livability of the city, while worsening the housing affordability gap.

It was the most generous formula in the state, and a highly profitable one for developers as indicated by an online calculator shared by Vice Mayor Ahearn-Koch demonstrating that a 20% affordability ratio would yield a 20% profit margin. Commissioner Trice moved to exclude commercial centers until the inclusionary targets were refined.

Commissioner Arroyo refused their bids to amend the plan, and bulldozed through a developer-dictated lose-lose-lose formula for Sarasota, collapsing 29 zones and setting uniform zone criteria that will create inhospitable gateways, sacrifice trees and open space, tax infrastructure, and crowd neighborhoods - in essence, giving away the future design of the city, while gaining nothing. Commissioner Alpert asked no questions, repeated specious talking points, and provided the third “yes” vote for the giveaway.

The only positive news to report on this unbalanced recipe for the main roadways is that bad urban design rules can be changed, and a future commission which is willing to walk-the-walk (to experience the mass of structures by SMH) and talk-the-talk (e.g. listen to the advice of new urbanist Andres Duany) can fix the affordability ratios, and set appropriate height, scale, and building placement for busy roads like 41, 301 & Fruitville.


It was standing room only at the packed CityPAC forum (watch video) held at the Selby Library on March 28. The frustration of residents with commissioners who don’t listen to or engage with the people they are elected to serve was accentuated by the fact that the incumbents, all of whom were invited, refused to attend.

City commission candidates have until June 14 to file, and this was the first of several planned forums between now and election day for the 3 district seats on the ballot in 2024.

The CityPAC endorsements committee is gathering feedback from CityPAC advisors and forum attendees, and expects to indicate soon which candidates have earned the CityPAC’s “sunny candidate seal of approval”.

More than one candidate in each district may be awarded the “resident-friendly” CityPAC badge, and it is possible that no candidate will be endorsed in some districts.

We invite neighbors to watch the forum and email us at with their thoughts on the event format, the candidates, and questions they’d like to see included in future “job interviews” for these all-important city commission seats.


Residents spoke AGAIN against the resubmitted boundary-busting rule-defying skyscraper proposed for 1260 Palm Avenue. The barely-changed plan will be considered by the Development Review Committee this Wednesday, April 3.

When is 5 stories 10? When a new property owner wants to manufacture money from thin air. Emboldened by a “non-enforcement culture,” and commission they perceive as friendly, developers of a property on Fruitville are scheduled to come before the city commission to request removal of height-restricting proffers they voluntarily agreed to when the property in question was rezoned.

Can the city be trusted to write good rules for neighborly construction? Can residents count on them to enforce deeds, agreements, and the rule of law? We will find out on April 15.

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