The people have spoken
I believe it is safe to say, after three referendum votes, that saw up to 86% of Longboat voters reject any increases in density, that Longboat residents do not want any more people on their island. The voters rejected requests from developers for even one additional house.
Now the Colony developer, and the north end motel developer, are planning to return to the commission with yet more requests for additional tourist units, from the remaining pool of tourist units authorized by voters a decade ago.
It is clear, from the last three referendum votes, that residents on Longboat Key no longer wish to have more hotel/motel rooms in their community, in addition to the private residential and condominium units that are part of the increasing Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) and AirB&B presence in the community.
Longboat Key has seen a sizable surge in upscale residential home building and condominium projects over the past decade. It seems that Longboat has become a favorite of affluent home buyers. Upscale home owners have almost nothing in common with tourists. Residents and tourists, for the most part, want different sorts of amenities.
My anecdotal observations in the village, where I live, is that the current cost conscious tourists are economizing by sharing three bedroom houses with one or two other couples. Where previously two residents occupied their home and had one or two cars, that they used for errands and running into Sarasota for dinner. Now there are six people and three or more cars, that are used far more than the previous elderly residents.
Back to the yet unutilized tourist units. The commissioners have the legal authority to allot the units to perspective commercial tourism developers. As will most likely be the case with the Colony and north end motel developers.
I have heard the argument that if the commissions defy the will of the people, and do not table the remaining tourist units, that the rooms should at least be dispersed evenly throughout the island, to avoid concentrated traffic problems. The north end motel developer wants to develop a hotel next door to the Hilton/Zota, which is already insanely dense and over developed. I cannot imagine the increased traffic congestion caused by adding two hundred more cars to the two hundred already at the 200 room Hilton/Zota hotel. If homeowners think having to wait for dozens and dozens of cars going north, stopped on GMD, waiting to turn into the Hilton/Zota, during season, will be a huge problem, try doubling the number of cars stopped for two adjacent hotels.
Sadly, Bradenton Beach is experiencing an accelerating exodus of residents, as more and more houses are turned into densely occupied short term vocation rentals. The social fabric of Anna Maria Island is being stressed by ever more intense commercial tourism development.
Several commissioners have expressed their desire to preserve our low profile and low density, that has so successfully attracting ever more affluent residents to our community.
Commissioner Brown has said publically that he favors tabling the remaining tourist units. Let’s hope his fellow commissioners concur.
For sure it is what 86% of the residents want.