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Highlights of January 2, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting

Highlights of January 2, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting


  • The commission reviewed the regional transportation priorities set by the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Maybe, before charging ahead, we should look both ways? For example, there were 3 separate crashes on Christmas Day at the Gulfstream traffic circle, bringing the tally for its first year of operation to over 120 accidents (6x greater than the prior signaled intersection). There have also been accidents involving bicyclists and cars at the wide bike lane at the Ringling / 301 intersection. Will the known trouble spots be addressed before embarking on more road redesigns?


  • From cement crushing plants operating at midnight, to fireworks in residential neighborhoods, to drums within feet of residences, to rooftop nightclubs, to engine revving, to 3-day music festivals in downtown neighborhoods, the air was filled with the sounds of residents complaining about the lack of enforcement of the city’s noise control ordinances. After an inquiry from Commissioner Trice, the city attorney indicated that he would be updating the noise and sound ordinances in February.


  • The new year brings a new engineering design manual for city streets and sidewalks. But what about the ones we already have? Downtown resident Jim Lampl showed an image of impassable city sidewalks, and asked the commission to prioritize public safety, and enforce ADA public access requirements for public right-aways.

  • Upon questioning by Commissioner Trice, City Manager Brown initially reacted by stating that he did not have enough staff to address enforcement of the minimum 5’ window of passage. Commissioner Trice suggested mitigating the ADA issue by adjusting the engineering parameters.


  • The newly-released corridor zoning text changes were meant to promote the creation of affordable housing in commercial zones. Building size was explicitly ruled out as a variable by the city commission. Yet the ZTAs issued over the holidays by the planning department more than double building heights, and quadruple lot coverage, while virtually eliminating trees and open space from all of the gateways to the city.

  • In his closing remarks, Commissioner Arroyo implied that math was political. If he reads the documents prior to next week’s workshop, he will discover that the ZTAs uniformly raise the height limit along 41, 301, Fruitville, and several other major roadways from 35’-45’ now to 91’.


  • For the proposed corridor zoning text amendments, how did Planning staff stray so far off track from the policy direction set by the commission?

  • In his closing remarks, City Manager Brown appropriately lauded development services, public works, and the parks department for their accomplishments in 2023. While notably omitting the planning staff from his statements, Mr. Brown invited residents to clarify who it was that does not seem to be able to hear the direction of the city commission or the input from the residents.

  • Similar concerns with respect to the bar and nightclub definitional changes prompted former city commissioner Mollie Cardamone to write an editorial on the need for a city hall to adjust its posture toward the public, and public service.


  • Residents pointed out the devastating community impacts of losing neighborhoods to short term vacation rentals and urged the city to retain occupancy limits, and enforce its 7 day minimum. Led by Commissioner Trice, the city commission, with only Commissioner Arroyo opposed, agreed to extend the vacation rental registration ordinance citywide.

  • However, the city attorney explained that a state level bill on vacation rentals may impact some of the fee and registration parameters.


  • The City Commission will hold a workshop on January 8 on the corridor ZTAs and parking.

  • The Planning Board will hear the developer’s appeal of Development Services’ rejection of the 347-foot tall skyscraper on Palm on January 10.

  • One Park has withdrawn its development application, but is appealing the judge’s ruling.

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