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Highlights of October 2, 2023 Sarasota City Commission Meeting

Highlights of October 2, 2023  Sarasota City Commission Meeting


  • The developer of several of the hotel houses on Lido Key has threatened litigation against the city for imposing occupancy limits. Longtime Lido Key President Carl Shoffstall gave an impassioned plea to protect the inland neighborhoods from turning into vacationer-only business strips. Arlington Park Neighborhood President Flo Entler said it is already happening to the formerly affordable housing there. The commission voted to fight the Bert Harris claims.

  • When the discussion turned to extending the vacation rental registry to the mainland, Commissioner Arroyo minimized input from neighbors and staff, objecting to the idea of government regulation, and ignoring the costs to the community of not enforcing the laws we already have in place. As Commissioner Trice pointed out, the city’s 7-day minimum vacation rental already applies citywide, but it is not being enforced - the city is losing tax revenue, and residents are losing affordable rental housing and neighborhoods. She also explained that New York was able to crack down on abuses by requiring that all listed properties on rental platforms carry a city registration (as well as the state registration that is already required). Commissioner Ahearn-Koch moved to extend the registry citywide, which passed 4:1, with Commissioner Arroyo against.


  • “Change is inevitable, but not all change is good” said a resident during public comment, pointing out that the city plan and zoning rules are the guardrails to direct growth. Citing compatibility with the city plan and desired characteristics for a walkable, inviting street, staff denied several of the requested variances for the 342-foot Obsidian skyscraper. The developer has appealed the decision. Will the planning board and city commission follow the advice of staff professionals and uphold the city plan?


  • Although it passed, 3:2, both Commissioner Trice and Commissioner Ahearn-Koch voted against the parklet ordinance, pointing to the fact that it was privatizing public parking spaces and helping some businesses at the expense of other businesses and residents.


  • Olympian Jake Ilarhdi rolled out his idea of all-wheels skate spots in open spaces and city parks beyond Payne Park. Behind the scenes, there are greens, and the Bobby Jones Golf Course will be re-opening later this year. The commission also voted to convey 17 acres of the land protected under the conservation easement at Bobby Jones to the county for creation of a regional playground.


  • The planning staff has been holding informative open house presentations and workshops on attainable housing along major roads. New zoning codes, with guidelines on height, setbacks, etc. are expected this fall/winter. The rustic block Burns Court home built by Sarasota founding father George McAlpin may be on the block for demolition. After discussing how to balance growth with preservation, Commissioner Alpert moved to continue the demolition request until March to give the developer time to rework their site plan or find a suitable receiving site.


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