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Highlights of March 4, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting

Highlights of March 4, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting


Honored for his longtime service on the Downtown Improvement District, Dr. Mark Kauffman said developers should follow the "treat fractures without surgery" philosophy he used as an orthopedist and a community builder: if a project is good for Sarasota, it should be built; otherwise it should not.


Although the need for more attainable housing has been discussed for years, parameters for building height, width, mass, and placement for the new Urban Mixed Use zones impacting 700 commercial lots alongside every major road into the city were not released until the January 8, 2024 city commission workshop.

The goal of promoting attainably-priced infill that would fit comfortably alongside existing neighborhoods was complicated when the planning board collapsed what the Planning Department had intended to be 3 different zones (with different height and building mass and placement parameters) into essentially 1 zone which would allow buildings of up 70-feet high and 200-feet long lining every major roadway into the city.

City commission candidate Ron Kashden explained that when it comes to the scale and placement of structures in an existing built environment, “right height, right place” is the secret sauce of a recipe for sensible growth that won’t overwhelm the neighbors, urging a 50-foot building height cap for south 41, Fruitville, 301, 10th, and 17th street.

Neighborhood residents spoke about how building scale, mass, setbacks, and design give the city of Sarasota its unique look and feel and character, and implored the commission to set good building guidelines that will enable Sarasota to keep its charm and appeal as it grows.

Commissioner Trice asked why floor area ratio wasn’t factored in for the residential portions of the mixed use. She also pushed for a 4-story maximum along the South Trail (MU-1) zone - pointing out that height limit would be far more compatible with the existing 1-2 story neighborhoods.

Vice Mayor Ahearn-Koch gave examples of inclusionary zoning used elsewhere in the state. The matter was dropped after city staff expressed concern that Sarasota (among the most desirable cities in the United States) could not attract developers unless it gives away the most generous density bonuses (triple density - 2x any other municipality) and among the lowest affordability requirements (11.2%) in the state.

Ignoring this input, Commissioner Battie moved to approve the ZTA exactly as proposed by staff. Commissioner Arroyo seconded. Mayor Alpert provided the third vote to give the developers exactly what they wanted.

COMING UP: March 28, 2024 City Commission Candidate Forum

CityPAC is hosting a "job interview" with the candidates who have filed to run for a seat on the Sarasota City Commission.

The forum will be held at the Selby Public Library (1331 1st Street) Thursday, March 28 from 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public.

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