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Highlights of February 20, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting

Highlights of February 20, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting


The absurdity of an unsolicited business proposal to capitalize on public property by turning Ken Thompson into a theme park was spoofed at a recent Parks & Recreation Board meeting with a proposal for a water slide on City Hall.

After a circular discussion befitting a circus, the city commission called halt to Gillespie Park’s garden gnome wars by agreeing to fund a community composting initiative.

Renowned planner Mitchell Silver spoke about the importance of urban parks and green space in a recent sold-out lecture at Architecture Sarasota.


Sarasota celebrated African American artists in its Black History Month proclamation and Florida Highwaymen exhibit. A historical marker honoring Manasota victims of lynching will be dedicated February 24.

At a recent commission workshop, the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation explained how transfer of development rights can help the city shed its tearasota reputation and preserve its placemaking buildings and legacy businesses.

At the same workshop, officials unveiled a new city logo celebrating Sarasota’s arts, architecture, and environment.


In the face of resident complaints about excessive noise from bars, festivals, revving engines, power tools, sporting events, etc. the city attorney proposed changes to various sound ordinances to enable noise disturbances to be better controlled.

With the support of law enforcement, the city attorney suggested augmenting decibel readings with the supplementary objective standard of whether the noise is plainly audible within a specified perimeter from the source. Mayor Alpert asked for research on precedents with regard to distance and time from case law and other cities' practices.

Commissioner Trice asked for a decision table showing types of sound, emission source, and time of day to help determine what cut-off levels and distances and hours to incorporate in the revised ordinances.


Sarasotans who live, work, and play downtown, in Southside Village, Laurel Park, at The Quay, and neighborhoods abutting commercial corridors along 41, 301, and Fruitville gave thoughtful input about why they opposed zoning changes that would allow outdoor bars near residences.

Pointing out that the intent of the zoning text amendments was to add clarity on definitions, Vice Mayor Ahearn-Koch pressed for precision in delineating bars vs. nightclubs on the basis of amplified “and / or” live sound.

Commissioner Trice added enforcement of decibel limits after hours, repeated her objection to the outdoor bar definition, and asked that indoor bars be defined as “enclosed” versus “enclosable”. She also asked that a state-issued kitchen license be added to the restaurant definition.

Mayor Alpert noted that outdoor bars would be subject to conditional commission approval, and like outdoor restaurants, must be vacated by 11:00 p.m.

The motions to adopt the new definitions with the above changes, and expand permitted uses to all commercial districts, passed 4:1.

COMING UP: March 4 - Urban mixed use zoning along 41, 301, and Fruitville.

*Note: The publisher of this newsletter, Kelly Franklin, will not participate in CityPAC's candidate forums and its vetting or endorsement of City Commission candidates because her husband has announced that he is running for the District 2 seat on the commission.

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