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Highlights of November 20, 2023 Sarasota City Commission Meeting

Highlights of November 20, 2023 Sarasota City Commission Meeting


  • Reviewing the City’s Development Review Committee (DRC) process is one element of the City’s Strategic Plan which was approved today.

  • The DRC process hasn’t been examined in over 12 years. Former planning board members Kathy Kelley Ohlrich and Eileen Normile met with the assistant city manager and director of development services to discuss the role of Sarasota’s PD in the review process. The consensus was that Crime Prevention through Environmental Design ( standards should be considered going forward.

  • City ordinance guidelines and zoning code definitions were not followed in issuing a sidewalk cafe permit for Corona Cigar (only restaurants are eligible for public sidewalk cafe permits).

  • Speaking of shared spaces and places, despite the high number of noise and public disturbance reports and police incidents related to “transformer” restaurants operating as nightclubs, there was also no police review of the impacts of the public safety impacts of the planning staff’s proposal to allow outdoor bars and bars by right.

  • The city’s rules for the roads (and sidewalks, and street lights) are defined by the engineering design manual, which is being updated. While applauding the context-sensitive design standards, at a recent commission workshop Commissioner Trice raised questions about the classification of certain areas (e.g. Rosemary) as Downtown, and how engineering, staff, and applicants’ interpret “shall” vs “should” in terms of exceptions to the design rules.


  • Explaining that she was "in the room where it happened" when the decision was made in the late 1990s to convert the Van Wezel to an award-winning Broadway touring theater, former Mayor Mollie Cardamone invited purple ribbon committee members to view the video from the Community Conversation about the Sarasota landmark.

  • Whether the structure can be floodproofed to allow continued use in that capacity will be the first and primary charge of the panel, which has two years to complete its analysis.

  • The Bay Park updated its conceptual master plan to reflect the addition of 3 waterfront restaurants, accessible by boat, in the canal district. Commissioners Ahearn-Koch, Arroyo, and Trice pushed for greater community and elected official involvement in the implementation design and approval process as the plan (which remains vague at this point) is built out.

  • Local golfers celebrated news that resident fees will be 40% off the list price when Bobby Jones Golf Course re–opens mid-December. The city recently held a public workshop to discuss ideas for the Bobby Jones Nature Park.


  • The commission is scheduled to discuss bar and restaurant regulations at a workshop December 5 at 9:00 a.m. Residents will not be permitted to speak, but can attend the workshop. The city is also tentatively planning on holding a town hall to discuss changes to its special events ordinances in December.

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