Highlights of May 15, 2023 Sarasota City Commission Meeting
TRASH / SIDEWALKS
The city commission endorsed the Downtown Improvement District recommendation of raising sidewalk café fees to cover the cost of weekly cleaning. Officials took a deep dive into the topic of dumpsters (and trash, recycling, street cleaning, and litter) at a workshop on solid waste. Tommy’s Express Carwash withdrew its application for a North Tamiami Trail location. A planning board member called the site plan submitted for the second Ritz Carlton Residences at the Quay a defacement of the historic Belle Haven (due to placement of trash pickup and traffic ramp wall), leading the applicant to ask for a continuance to rework the design.
PLAYERS & PARKS
The city can’t seem to pick a course for the clubhouse at Bobby Jones, with commissioners Alpert, Arroyo, and Battie expressing the view that the oldest public golf course in America needs to compete with the mall and provide destination dining, raising construction costs from $2 to $9 million. After Commissioners Ahearn-Koch and Trice expressed reservations about the building size and expense, the commission directed staff to come back in 18 months with final costs and a funding plan for the 15,000 foot clubhouse. The commission welcomed The Players to Payne Park, agreeing to lease mid-century modern Payne Park Auditorium to the community theater. The Sarasota Orchestra announced collaborations with nearly 30 local organizations on planning for its new regional music center on Fruitville. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reopened its inquiry about the One Park project, seemingly focusing on donations at an event held by the Sarasota City Foundation.
THE SKY’S THE LIMIT / THE HOUSING WE NEED
Nine neighbors spoke during public comment about the contextual misfit of the 342-foot tall skyscraper proposed for 1260 Palm Avenue; the applicant has until August 14 to resubmit its plans for administrative review by the city. Sarasota Housing Authority CEO William Russell secured commission approval to increase density to 50 units per acre on the property the authority owns to develop housing for low-income residents. The City Manager announced that short term rentals will be discussed at the July commission workshop. Commissioner Ahearn-Koch raised concerns about the implications of the building height and density components of the new Live Local state legislation.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
NOAA Fisheries published results of its 2022 scoping of possible commercial fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico, 80% of public comment was opposed, with significant concern from chambers of commerce, tourism, and real estate sectors given that commercial fish farms could make Sarasota’s red tide problems worse. IBSSA became the first neighborhood association to endorse a clean water amendment to the Florida Constitution; residents can download the petition, or stop by the petition station at Sarasota Architectural Salvage.