The high cost of Longboat’s homeless snub

Editor & Publisher

Sarasota County asked for $8,000 from Longboat Key to help offset the $40,000 cost to hire a consultant to implement a coordinated effort between the County and its municipalities. The City of Sarasota paid its share of $8,000, as did Venice and North Port. But Longboat Key not only refused the $8,000, it offered $1,000 instead and is shamelessly asking for oversight and input in the process in trade.

Here is why that is embarrassing for such a world-class and privileged and socially conscious community.

The bottom line is whatever happens to Sarasota happens to Longboat Key. Sarasota is the cultural anchor to our community. Realtors and tourism agencies tout all of Sarasota’s arts, ballet, galleries and restaurants when they advertise our properties and our lodging. Even more importantly, homeowners all love to enjoy the Downtown and its arterial draws. We love to walk at Marina Jack and jog and bicycle on the Ringling Bridge. We love to stroll around Whole Foods and we catch our movies in Sarasota. In short, we are all in this together.


Drawbridge of solipsism

To isolate and insulate and create a drawbridge of solipsism hurts the very soul of our own community. It is symbolic of yet another wrong direction. We have the opportunity to make a strategic investment that will enhance our values and we balk and joke and falter and make ‘token’ gestures.

Our Commission, which is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fashion policies they cannot arrive at themselves — namely Urban Land Institute consultants, revised land-use codes and beach policy — balked at the opportunity to take a lead role in what is arguably in every resident’s and visitor’s vested interest.

There are few worse experiences than being accosted by a stranger on the street. But there is no worse response than when a community has the means to assist and balks at the opportunity and actually laughs at what the Commission saw as the ridiculousness of the request. It was joked that we do not have a homeless problem on Longboat Key.

That kind of thinking and sentiment I pray is not that of our taxpayers who would have rather spent collectively one dollar each in their tax bill to take a real part in solving one of the area’s most tragic and depressing situations. Helping solve the homeless issue is good for business, good for the arts and good for our real estate values. It is in our interest to take a lead role and not increase the insular and uncaring sentiment that the Commission reveled in its attitude and token gesture of $1,000. It is symbolic of the wrong mindset that pervades this current Commission.

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12 Responses for “The high cost of Longboat’s homeless snub”

  1. Alan Janssens says:

    I used to joke about becoming the first ‘Homeless of Longboat Key’, and friend told me I’d be whisked away and taken to County Jail in about 30 seconds. Clearly, that’s not what would happen. Any police action would be carefully watched and Federal Constitutional issues would be raised. The roadways, and the beaches of Longboat Key belong to the people of Manatee and Sarasota Counties as much as they do the residents of Longboat Key. If ‘Longboat’ needs to be reminded of that, I’m sure it will be in a timely fashion if it keeps going down the geographical isolationist road.

  2. T.F. Ryan says:

    It would appear that your current Town leadership is made up of the Leona Helmsley’s of the eastern sea board.
    Shameful act of political ignorance and arrogance.

  3. Ross says:

    Snubbing a community call for help with the homeless and talking pictures of all vehicles coming on the key we are kind of becoming a “private” island/community kind a like in Stepford Wives.Yuk! We can/must do much better!

  4. Ross says:

    Let’s help out with this community homeless project because it is the right thing to do.

  5. Ross says:

    Well said, Blake

  6. Dottie Rutledge says:

    My hat off to you Steve, for calling this out. One of the things people naturally do when they are afraid of something is to distance themselves from it. It is not always true that if you watch out for others, others will watch out for you. But you are more likely to get out of anything what you put into it, from study to society. And the farthest that anyone is allowed to fall in your society is the farthest that you will be allowed to fall. If no one is allowed to starve, you will never starve. If it is unacceptable that anyone be outside without shelter, you will never be outside without shelter. If the dignity and civil rights of all persons — including those who annoy you — are respected, your own dignity and civil rights are safer.

  7. Blake Fleetwood says:

    Its a no brainer Steve,,,If we are to be human, Christian, Jewish, etc,,, we have an obligation to those in need. We need to do this and much more, because it it the right thing to do, and because it will make us better human beings, and because it will help LBK economicly in the long run, and because we will all feel better.

    Its sad that it take courage to say and write what should be obvious to all.

  8. Troy Montana says:

    Let just shoo the homeless to Longboat for a place to hang out… their attitude is unacceptable those snobs, This really upsets me.

  9. joe jordan says:

    That is how longboat rolls. I say lets not hire this guy and instead give each homeless person $50 to relocate to longboat key. If I was homeless I rather panhandle in the longboat key publix than downtown Sarasota.

  10. Nancy Ambrose says:

    WELL SAID Steve!!!

  11. What's on Second says:

    If indeed “Sarasota is the cultural anchor to our community”, then what is Bradenton, and for that matter anything north of our county line? Your story evokes the elitism of South Longboat and those often empty condominiums along the beach. I would posit that there is culture in Manatee, where goods and services abound. Just reflect on the weekend fashion shows at Wal-Mart on Cortez, where fashion forward models strut their stuff, and the gastronomical delights found at high end eateries like Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, and Checkers. Sure, Longboat might look to Sarasota for culture, but for comfort and convenience, a look to the north end and the magnificence of Manatee is in order. And, as an added benefit, you don’t have to transit St. Armand’s Circle to get to all that culture.

  12. Peter O'Connor says:

    Good for you, Steve. I trust I will be forgiven for agreeing with my Editor. I’d like to be praised for my agreement on this one. I have some experience with homelessness, and those tragic folks who find themselves without a home. To my notice this is as true in Sarasota as in Boston. I have been critical of Sarasota’s city fathers (and mothers) over what I thought was a callous attitude towards these least among us, e.g. taking the park benches out of the Selby Library park. Maybe they have learned. The engagement of a knowledgeable consultant in the field can only help. Only LBK has shirked our share. Our elected body shows again that it does not get much; it surely does not get it on this issue. Many, many people on this Key do get it, and should remember.

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