July 9, 2018   SARASOTA, FLORIDA

Joint Zoning Code Consensus press release-final-20180709

CONTACT: Melvin Sykes
(443) 871-5879

Four Civic Groups Unite to Adopt Zoning Code Principles

Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations (CCNA)
Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association (DSCA)

Sarasota, Florida July 9, 2018 – Four of Sarasota’s civic groups have united in support of six principles intended to enhance walkability, livability and development compatibility in the City of Sarasota. In combination, these groups represent many thousands of Sarasota residents.  These principles will be used in a collective effort to work with the City Commission to repair the City’s zoning code.

The Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations (CCNA) was formed in 1990 to preserve and enhance city neighborhoods, to address the needs of neighborhoods and to stand in support of those needs. The association has 32 member neighborhoods. At its June 3, 2018 meeting, CCNA members approved a resolution jointly introduced by the Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association (DSCA) and the Granada neighborhood association.

DSCA represents over 30 condominiums with over 6,000 residents in the greater downtown area. DSCA has advocated for mandatory community workshops as part of the development review process and that new construction be compatible with the surrounding community.

SHOUT and STOP! were both formed to address specific zoning issues and have particularly focused on public hearings for new development projects and more generous setbacks and sidewalks.

These four groups have agreed to six principles that should guide zoning code changes and construction site management in the City of Sarasota. Those principles are:

1. The current administrative approval process for the downtown does not provide adequate opportunity for public input during the site plan process and must be changed.
2. The practice of approving site plans through an administrative review process conducted by City staff should not be expanded for the areas outside of downtown.
3. City construction site policies and procedures do not adequately protect pedestrians and adjoining properties from falling debris and other safety hazards. Fines should be meaningful and inspections frequent.
4. City policies and procedures do not adequately incentivize developers to minimize street and sidewalk closures for the briefest period of time possible and should be strengthened.
5. Minimum and maximum setback footage should be increased for the downtown zones. Sidewalk width, especially on arterial streets, should be reviewed for the entire city.
6. Development projects should be compatible with the surrounding community: City staff should be proactive in implementing the compatibility standards already in the City zoning code.

These principles grew from:

• the findings of a June 2017 DSCA survey of downtown residents,
• concerns expressed by citizens at town hall meetings organized by STOP! and by SHOUT members at City Commission meetings,
• the results of a CCNA project which developed a list of hot issues.

It is evident that many city residents are concerned about these development issues, and this frustration is reflected in the overwhelming support of residents for these principles.  The members of these four civic groups expect the City Commission to act immediately on these principles and to repair these specific problems in our zoning code. These problems must not be postponed until the long delayed Form-Based Code is addressed. These four civic groups look forward to working with the City of Sarasota staff and commissioners.