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Editorial Letters – Week ending August 28, 2020

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Longboat Key Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues as well as Sarasota City Hall that address Sarasota issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Private beach question

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Commissioner Bishop, a copy of Mr. Motz’s email was forwarded to me. FYI, I have asked the staff to follow-up with Mr. Motz directly. The Erosion Control Line (ECL) is generally the determining factor regarding public access. They can review that with Mr. Motz and also look at any privately posted signs as related to both the distinction between public/private property and our current sign ordinance.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Private beach question

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Hello, BJ. I’m friends with David Satnick, he suggested I contact you. We are full time residents on Longboat Key. Neighbors on the gulf side have been preventing area owners from sitting on the beach between the sea grass and shoreline for many years. They claim the entire beach area is their private property. I’ll spare you from the rude and off-putting manner in which this point is communicated. Two days ago, metal signs were installed at the north and south edge of their “private beach” and they proceeded to move two chairs and an umbrella from “their beach” to beyond their designated boundaries. Additionally, they have built sea grass mounds on the north and south boundary of “their beach property” extending perpendicular from the sea grass toward the shore.

We are very interested to know if this is in fact private beach property. They don’t like people crossing over this area and certainly do not permit any standing or sitting anywhere within their established boundaries.

Given everything going on in the country and the world, I know this is not high priority. I would appreciate hearing from you when time allows. Thank you, stay well, and I know you’re not someone I need to remind to vote!

Randi Motz

Longboat Key

 

Mask ordinance

To: Longboat Key Town Clerk Trish Shinkle

We are exactly three days away from selling our NY home and coming to our townhome on Longboat Key. Witness New York’s success in controlling Covid-19 infection rates through mask requirements. Science is real. Masks are easy—even stylish. We would not consider staying at our Longboat Key home if the mask ordinance is dropped—simply stated. You’re doing the right thing—keep it up.

Deborah Richards and Christopher Frey

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key mask policy meeting

To: Longboat Key Town Clerk Trish Shinkle

If it works don’t fix it!  With low COVID-19 cases on Longboat Key it seems prudent to keep the town’s Mask Policy in place for the time being.

P. Nicki Bergin

Longboat Key

 

Shuttle service

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

I just read about the proposed shuttle service planned to relieve traffic from Longboat Key to and from Sarasota. I wonder if we could plan a phone conversation, possibly next week, at your convenience, to discuss this briefly.

Maryl Levine

Longboat Key

 

Technological advances

To: Longboat Key Commission

Great job by the PZ&B Department to continue to take advantage of technology and implement a number of electronic opportunities to interact with our customers.  See the most recent example below.  The Town is implementing a video inspection option for mechanical A/C inspections. Manatee County was the first pilot community to test this concept in the State and shared their experiences with the Town.  Our Team has coordinated closely with Manatee County to now offer the same services to the Town residents and businesses.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Video Inspections Option to be Provided by the Town

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Planning, Zoning, and Building Department will be rolling out, to all mechanical A/C contractors, the option to submit videos of their A/C unit installations for inspection by the Town. As noted in the email below, this option will be a significant convenience to both contractors & homeowners. We’ll be eBlasting this out to A/C contractors & sharing via social media. Thanks again to Patti Fige, Stan Dinwoodie, Maika Arnold, Jason Keen, Kari Kennedy & PZB staff for doing the heavy lifting to make this happen!

Another noteworthy milestone has been reached in the Town’s efforts to add to customer convenience options, via allowing for the submission of video inspections! The video inspection alternative was recently approved by the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR), Building Code Administrators and Inspector Board & was piloted statewide by Manatee County. This new service, for mechanical A/C Change Out permits only, will be a significant convenience to contractors and homeowners, eliminating the need for setting aside time to meet with Town inspectors on-site.

This initiative, led by Patti Fige, had a hefty amount of logistical steps involved to get us to this pilot testing point.  Special thanks to Maika Arnold for incorporating Video Inspections into the Town’s on-line permitting/inspections site, as well as developing the attached step-by-step instruction manuals for contractors & for staff. And special thanks too to Jason Keen for helping us acquire the cloud-based file sharing solution called Egnyte that will make submitting & tracking the large video files easier to manage. Thanks to all who worked on this! After pilot testing is complete, we’ll be getting word out more broadly.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

National Flood Insurance Program

To: Longboat Key Commission

See update below regarding the National Flood Insurance Program and recent changes that could impact our mobile home communities. The staff has reached out to the two mobile home parks to make them aware as we review the pending changes. We will update the Commission as we have more information.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

Comprehensive Adaptation Plan (Sea Level Rise Study)

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Below is a brief update to the Comprehensive Adaptation Plan (Sea Level Rise Study):

As you may recall, the Comprehensive Adaptation Plan consists of a four (4) phase effort.  Phase 1 “Initial Assessment” was completed in late 2018.  Phase 2 “Data Collection” is a larger effort, and we have completed sub-task A1 of Phase 2 using a State of Florida Resilient Coastlines Program grant through FDEP.  Although we did not get that grant this year, Finance was able to help us allocate funds to proceed with sub-tasks A2 through A5, which will complete the actual data collection effort of Phase 2.  We are moving forward with a Purchase Order with APTIM to continue that effort.  This continued data collection effort is anticipated to take 100-days, and will include bulkheads, storm sewer lift-stations and other critical infrastructure mapping.

The remainder of Phase 2 includes analysis and public meetings; we will continue to seek funding opportunities to complete Phase 2 and also Phases 3 and 4 as opportunities become available.

Isaac Brownman

Director Town of Longboat Key Public Works

Town of Longboat Key

 

Clarifying Building/Fire Fees Resolution

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Last year the Commission approved the new Building/Fire Fees Resolution after the fee study was completed.  Now that the staff has had some time to work with the new fee schedule they will be recommending some updates to the Resolution.  The proposed updates would correct some minor typos that have been discovered, add clarifications to existing fee types, adjust certain fees, with reductions and a limited number of increases as well as add fees for services that are provided but for which staff time is currently not assessed.

The proposed changes are attached.  The staff will be reaching out to contractors and other interested parties for feedback and plans to bring the proposed updates to the Commission’s October 5th Regular Meeting.   

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Building/Fire Fees Updates Recommendation

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Attached, please find a memorandum outlining several updates staff would like to make to the Building/Fire Fees resolution.  The memo outlines the proposed changes that come as a result of one year of working with updated fees. Staff proposes to bring these changes to the Commission’s October 5th Regular Meeting for consideration as an updated fee resolution.  We will be doing outreach with contractors & other interested parties ahead of the commission meeting.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Shuttle service

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

I just read about the proposed shuttle service planned to relieve traffic from Longboat Key to and from Sarasota. I wonder if we could plan a phone conversation, possibly next week, at your convenience, to discuss this briefly.

Maryl Levine

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Drive North

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz

I had contacted the Public Works Department earlier this week regarding the torn up sod mess left in the street. A truck had driven over the edge of the property next to us while the street was nearly flooded from the tide backup from Poinsettia grates as well as Lands End. Surely you have seen the mess as you leave your gate. I would appreciate your help in expediting this clean up as it is only getting messier and muddier. No one is asking for repair or compensation. Just clean up our streets as is the Public Works Department’s responsibility as I understand.

Judith Chable

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Drive North

To: Longboat Key Public Works Director Isaac Brownman

Trucks have torn up the sod on the town easement on both sides of Longboat Drive North. Who is responsible for this maintenance?   

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Drive North

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz

Thank you Commissioner Zunz, this is related to private construction work occurring nearby, and is being handled by Code Enforcement accordingly.  I will contact the customer and let her know as well.

Isaac Brownman

Director Town of Longboat Key Public Works

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Drive North

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz

Really? This has nothing to do with construction in the area.  It is just a messy street that needs to be cleaned up. Why does this have to be a big deal? Ridiculous.

Judith Chable

Longboat Key

 

Thank you for mask ordinance

To: Longboat Key Commission

First, I want to thank you for taking these jobs. I could not do it, so I really appreciate those who can and will.

The mask has serious constitutional violations, both Florida and U.S. Constitutions. This mandate is unlawful

because it violates our constitutional and fundamental human right to privacy and bodily autonomy, and despite having no authority under Florida law to do so.

Section 2, of the Florida Constitution states as follows: “Basic rights.—All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.”

The Florida Constitution’s privacy right embraces more privacy interests, and extends more protection to the individual in those interests, than does the federal constitution. includes the right to liberty. See Winfield v. Div. of Pari–Mutuel Wagering,477 So. 2d544 (Fla. 1985).65. Florida’s Right of Privacy also includes the right to liberty. State v. J.P., 907 So. 2d 1101, 1115 (Fla. 2004) (holding that the Florida constitutional right to privacy includes the right to liberty and self-determination). An integral component of self-determination is the right to make choices pertaining to one’s health and to determine what shall be done with one’s own body.

Additionally, a 60-day Mask Mandate is unlawful because it exceeds 7 days as required by § 252.38,Fla. Stat.99.

The recent action in Palm Beach County has all the concerns and elements I am taking about.  Please read:

https://www.floridacivilrights.org/florida-civil-rights-coalition-files-civil-rights-action-seeking-declaratory-judgment-and-permanent-injunction-against-unconstitutional-palm-beach-county-mask-mandate/. Thank you for your time and attention. This is very important.

Diane Mason

Artistic director

YES Film Festival

 

Visit Sarasota County update

To: Longboat Key Commission, City of Sarasota Commission

Visit Sarasota County has been relying on digital and social strategies to reach potential customers for Sarasota County who are showing online behaviors that indicate a desire to travel.  As you can imagine, most of these potential visitors are from right here in Florida or within driving distance.

VSC’s social strategy is really paying off thanks to major campaigns in June and July.  The first was Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week, #SavorSarasota.  The second was #SiestaBeachSummer, our celebration of Siesta Beach being named #1 Beach in the US by Trip Advisor.  In the past few months, we greatly expanded our postings on Facebook and Instagram, with slightly less on Twitter.  This paid off with a significant increase in engagements (liking, sharing etc) across all platforms as we reminder people of the great outdoors experiences here in Sarasota County.

Here are the July 2020 numbers compared to the same period 2019.  It is important to remember that July 2019 was a “soft” month because consumers were hesitant to book, fearing a return of the red tide experience from summer 2018.  That said, I am particularly pleased that our lodging property owners are successfully protecting their rates.

Visitors in paid lodging dropped -12% going from 94,800 in July 2020 compared to 106,200 in July 2019

Visitor spending was down -10.8% going from $78,894,600 in July 2020 compared to $88,403,100 in July 2019

Lodging occupancy in July 2020 was 54.7%, down 16.9% compared to July 2019 at 65.8%

Lodging Average Daily Rate in July 2020 was $168.44 AN INCREASE (!) of 3.1% compared to July 2019 at $163.38

Total rooms sold in July 2020 was 186,800, a -16.8% decrease from July 2019 of 224,700

Virginia J. Haley

President

Visit Sarasota County

 

Sarasota High School Perimeter Security Fencing project

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I just want to update you — no response requested — on “a bone that I won’t drop”! About a year ago, at the hearings on vacating School Ave for urgent security reasons at SHS, the School District said in their presentations that they were concurrently dealing with other urgent perimeter security matters including replacing perimeter fencing with more secure (and “more attractive”) fencing, which would also address a plethora of perimeter fence security issues that you also brought up during the hearings.  You may recall their backup documentation with page after page of photos of old chain-link fencing freshly zip-tied to the uprights?

Last I was informed, this project was scheduled for sometime Jan-Aug 2020.  Periodically I send an email to School District (Jody Dumas) requesting an update. This week’s update reply from Jody Dumas:  “We are moving forward…but slowly.  The board will allocate the funds for the fencing project on July 1. [my italics] We will start design work sometime in late July.  Once we start design we will contact you for input.”

I had been under the impression that for this urgent security need, money was made available. Apparently not. In retrospect, regarding my “other bone,” maybe we should have taken Mr. Bowen up on his offer during the hearings to write a $3million check right then and there for the associated mitigating pedestrian improvements!

Anyhow, I just wanted to update you on this matter. As we all know, all budgeting is now subject, quite legitimately, to changes and severe reduction due to the epidemic. I realize you all will have to be making a lot of unfortunate compromises in eliminating already-planned and worthy projects by the City, due to the crisis and what I’m assuming will be severe income stream reductions of every kind. I will not question your difficult decisions about that! Best wishes for health and well-being for you and yours.

Linda Kitch

Sarasota

 

Sarasota High School Perimeter Security Fencing project

To: Linda Kitch

Sorry for the late response, but could we get an update on the progress of the pedestrian path and all the School Avenue updates including fencing?

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Update Sarasota High School Perimeter Security Fencing project

To: Sarasota City Planning Director Steve Cover

Good morning. I’ve been participating in regular meetings with the School Board’s project team for the past year. Design on the East Side improvements is complete. The East Side project has also been permitted, so they should be able to begin construction.  I’ll ask for an update on when that should start.

The design for the West Side improvements is 60% complete.  I understand they’ve been working on the fences, but I’ll ask for an update on that as well.  Adapting to COVID back in Spring certainly took precedence for a few months.

Daniel Ohrenstein

Assistant City Engineer

City of Sarasota Public Works Department

Engineering Division

 

Mask Usage at S. Tamiami/ Siesta Drive/Bee Ridge LA Fitness

To: Sarasota City Manager Jen Ahearn-Koch

The sign at the front door at LA Fitness states, “No Mask No Entry.” But the facility is not enforcing this.

If LA Fitness patrons are required to wear masks while in the facility while not exercising (i.e., walking around, going for a drink of water, going to water fountain, socializing, using the bathroom, etc.), why aren’t the front door employees requiring patrons to be in possession of a mask upon entering the facility?

The fact is, more than half the patrons using this facility at any time don’t even carry a mask to wear!

No one exercises the entire time they are at LA Fitness, they walk around, have conversations, use the bathroom, etc.  So, everyone should be required to have a mask in order to enter the facility.

No Mask No Entry signs? Nothing but a false sense of security for Sarasota’s high-risk seniors that use LA Fitness.

Harry Smith

Sarasota

Mask Usage at S. Tamiami/ Siesta Drive/Bee Ridge LA Fitness

To: Sarasota City Staff

City Code staff has been there on several occasions.  The facility has signs up and masks are available.  The fitness equipment is socially distanced. There is an exemption from wearing a mask if one is exercising.  Business owners/managers are not required to restrict entry if a patron is not wearing a mask.  That was specifically eliminated from the mask ordinance.

Gretchen M. Schneider

General Manager

Development Services Department

City of Sarasota

 

Mask Usage at S. Tamiami/ Siesta Drive/Bee Ridge LA Fitness

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I’m referring to the LA Fitness Westfield Siesta Mall (3501 South Tamiami Trail) and this is within the city limits.

Exercise improves immunity, however, Sarasota City exempted exercise facilities from its mask ordinance, the place that needs it most.

I can see not requiring masks for the cardio machines (not really), but why shouldn’t all the other patrons at LA Fitness (weight machines, Yoga, socializing, bathrooms, stretching, etc.) be required to wear masks? Many older patrons can’t use the facility because of LA Fitness’ voluntary mask policy (with almost no adherence) and there is zero social distancing.

The reality is, exhalation droplets travel much farther than six feet in front of an indoor treadmill, bike or elliptical user (most likely up to 40 feet). Picture row after row of cardio machines (during the busiest hours), all that huffing and puffing of rows of cardio machine users, much worse than a cough or sneeze at a restaurant.

Also, LA Fitness’ HVAC system filters should be required to meet or exceed HEPA standards to help with this Covid-19 hazard. Please help!

Harry Smith

Sarasota

 

Census Push & New Commissioner Orientation

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Thanks for making the census push!

Yard signs

Please inform the City Commission that the Complete Count Committee has access to free yard signs reminding our community of the upcoming census deadline.

We’ve shared this information with CCNA, but the signs are available to whomever requests them.

Procedurally, we can make the signs available at City Hall for pickup, and could easily turn this pick up into a media story, with the assistance of our PIO and Miles and/or John.

Also, it would be good to make some signs available at the Downtown Farmer’s Market and the Newtown Farmer’s Market.  David (or Nancy Kelly), I’m asking for your assistance for coordinating this.

Utility bills

As an FYI, we will be including a census reminder in the upcoming utility bills that are mailed to the areas where are reporting percentages are down.

SCAT Buses

Tom, can you reach out to the County to see if we could get some census messaging on the SCAT buses for the month of September?

Maybe we can get our rack cards to them for distribution as riders get on the bus?  If approved, David, can you assist in getting the flyers to the county?

Election Push = Census Push

Is it appropriate, or legal, or possible, to reach out to all city commission candidates, to see if they would be willing to include census messaging in their electronic communication (e.g. Facebook, webpage, email, etc.) during the month of September?

It would be a request from the city to the candidates that would include a sentence or two on the census with the deadline and the contact information to respond. Nothing partisan at all.  It would be optional (the candidate could decline).

Mr. Fournier, could we legally do something like this?

Access to City Census Computers

As a reminder, we have purchased computers to be placed at RLT and Arlington for the community to respond to the census if they don’t have internet access in their homes.  When can we use these computers?  Are we free to schedule hours for the community to come to these facilities to complete their census surveys in a socially-distant manner?

These are my census suggestions and updates. I look forward to receiving a response from whomever can assist.

Shelli Freeland Eddie

Vice Mayor

Sarasota

 

Census Push and New Commissioner Orientation

To: Sarasota City Commission

With the Census response deadline now set for Sept. 30 city staff and I are exploring all ways to put on a final push to encourage residents who have not yet responded to the census to respond in a timely fashion.  Any thoughts or suggestions you may have are welcomed so please send them directly to me at your earliest convenience.

Also, are preparing orientation materials for a new City Commissioner. Looking back at your experience any specific ideas are welcomed. Please get any specifics directly, to Bob, Shayla or I who will coordinate on this. Thanks.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Sarasota City Commission

I am forwarding this email chain as background for our weekly conversation and because I expect a media story about this matter later this week. Current codes do not allow street showering for the homeless as proposed by Streets of Paradise.

Although the County Fire Department did allow it on their property during an earlier phase of the pandemic they have curtailed the operation after challenges emerged. The proposed new site at Planned Parenthood on Central in the Rosemary District, very near the Salvation Army Shelter and Resurrection House, is not allowed according to the Major Conditional Use Permit granted to Planned Parenthood.

My information is that showers are now available 7 days per week through the Salvation Army, Resurrection House (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) and at the feeding site outside of the city on 3 or 4 days.

The homeless coordination response system does not support unpermitted street showering for a variety of reasons. Although we have worked well with Streets of Paradise and are brainstorming and case working options for those who were having trouble using any of the other showering options I expect they may appeal to you directly or via the media and wanted to get you a brief background.

I am hopeful we can continue to focus on housing and the support systems necessary to continue our successful efforts to get folks off the street and into housing. In 4 years of a coordinated approach several hundred have been housed. If I were to allow a precedent for this with no permits it may make our housing and coordinated approach more challenging via too many independent operations and this or other showering trailers could appear in any neighborhood or roadway.  Nonetheless the coordinated systems many related work elements to improve our group success is continuing and I will update you during our weekly talks.   

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Gretchen Schneider

Thanks for sharing. We are meeting with them shortly. We will discuss this along with other issues.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Apparently, Planned Parenthood is going to let them distribute food instead of providing showers.  This is not allowed at all in the DTE zone district (all DT zones in fact).  There is not an application they can apply for to allow it other than changing the Zoning Code.  Please advise.

Gretchen M. Schneider

General Manager

Development Services Department

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Gretchen Schneider

I spoke to Jasmine who works in the front desk for planned parenthood, she said that two Sundays ago was the last time they are allowing them (street paradise) to have a shower facility trailer on site. They are only handing out food.

Brandon Soriano

Code Inspector

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

I will go ahead and send the Code Compliance Officer over to request that they remove the shower facility. Without it being in the Emergency Order they are operating without approval.  We will request them to remove the shower facility and give them 10 days to do so.

Gretchen M. Schneider

General Manager

Development Services Department

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To Sarasota Executive Assistant Kathryn King

Thank you for helping with this situation, Kathy. We really appreciate the assistance.

The situation is as follows, we, through the support of 100’s of donors and supporters, and in response to the ongoing need and new needs due to the virus for showers and laundry availability particularly on the weekends, had an ADA compliant shower and laundry trailer custom built.

The showers and laundry services are made available on Sundays for those in need of such services in order to meet the basic needs, build relationships and allow us the opportunity to assist people on the streets in connecting with services to help them get jobs or into programs for long term sustainability.

For the last 10 weeks Fire Chief Hartley has allowed us to use the fire station water (though we do have capacity to fill a mobile tank), at 5th and Central. Additionally, we provide food, clothes and personal hygiene items, all via community support and donations.

This past Sunday there was an altercation. To be clear, this is the first one in the history of Streets of Paradise outreach of 2.5 years, including 74 straight days of food distribution in collaboration with the city and county during the shutdown of 15,000 meals.

I received a call today from Officer Stiff of Sarasota Police Department informing me that we would not be allowed to use the fire station water nor would we be allowed to continue at all without a permit. I’ve spoken with special permitting, code enforcement, building permits and one other department I was transferred to no avail as no one knows what kind of permit we would be required or why.

I am sincerely hopeful you can assist as we know that because of these services many, many people have gotten jobs and into programs and housing which is and always will be our primary function. Please let me know how we can proceed. Thank you!

Cathy Bryant

Streets of Paradise, Director of Operations

Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Streets of Paradise Cathy Bryant   

I have received this, and I am printing it for Marlon Brown, Deputy City Manager, to look over. I hope to have some assistance for you soon. Thank you.

Kathryn (Kathy) King

Executive Assistant

Sarasota City Manager’s Office

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Sarasota Executive Assistant Kathryn King

I hope this finds you all well. Due to recent events and conversation with multiple conflicting messages I am now writing to request a meeting as soon as possible. Please let me know how we can proceed with full transparency and appropriate productive conversations to resolve the issue at hand. Thank you again for your support and assistance.

Cathy Bryant

Streets of Paradise, Director of Operations

Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Streets of Paradise Cathy Bryant

I will check with Marlon Brown, Deputy City Manager, and I can arrange a meeting soon.

I now have a ZOOM account, and it would be very easy to set up a ZOOM meeting.   I need to check with Mr. Brown as to who else to invite. Thank you, I will speak with you soon.

Kathryn (Kathy) King

Executive Assistant

Sarasota City Manager’s Office

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

To address your email and provide you some background on the issue, I can provide the following information. Once I was made aware of the public shower and other social services being provided by a private organization on 5th St. I contacted the Lt. on duty at the Fire Department. He confirmed that the showers had been provided to the public for some time on Sundays and he thought it needed to stop because individuals using the showers hang their clothes all over nearby fences and, blocked sidewalks. He advised that, he was no longer going to be providing water to the organization providing the public showers, Streets of Paradise. He indicated that the showers had been originally authorized by SFD administration. I provided him my phone number and asked if the SFD Chief who authorized this action could please give me a call.

I then received a copy of a report from the PD, they responded to the area reference a physical altercation between a couple individuals utilizing of showers. One of the individuals was eventually arrested. I also reviewed the photographs taken. They showed the trailer containing the public showers was parked in the roadway and related tents were set up in the right of way and across the sidewalk.

I then contacted Ms. Cathy Bryant and she advised me that Streets of Paradise had been offering public showers at the location since mid-June. She also implied that they had been asked to do this by the county, the city, and others.  I told her there might be city code and city permit requirements related to this kind of activity. I told her that I did not work for city permitting or code compliance so I could not advise her, I recommended, she contact them for help in this matter.

Later in the week I received a call from the SFD Chief who confirmed that some time ago he had authorized SFD to provide water to Streets of Paradise. He believed at the time this would be only on a temporary basis, but it had turned in to an ongoing, weekly event. He ended by saying that SFD was not going to provide water access in the future.

On Thursday Mr. Greg Cruz called my desk phone and advised he was trying to find out who could tell him what he needed to do to provide public showers. I told him I had no knowledge of the permit process or what permit he would need.

Friday morning, I reached out to Cathy again and asked her if she had been able to locate the information she needed. She advised that she had called multiple people, but no one had been able to tell her what she needed to determine the permits needed to offer public showers. I then sent two emails to Gretchen, one at 10:56am and a follow up at 2:16pm to see if she could provide me a contact for Cathy to call. Gretchen advised she was waiting on input from you but did send me Alex’s desk number on Monday at 9:15 a.m. I did not call Cathy to provide her that number because Streets of Paradise had moved the showers to the Planned Parenthood parking lot, and I was planning to meet with Greg Cruz.

On Wednesday I met with Greg Cruz at Panera for coffee. I began the conversation by saying I was only inquiring how long he wanted to provide public showers and other social services. His response was indefinitely. I asked him if he was aware that there may be some code or permit issues that would have to be resolved to conduct these activities in the city. He advised he has an attorney who works with his organization and he could not find any issues with the property use. We then spent several minutes discussing the homelessness response strategy of “Housing First” into our plan and how enablement could impact the city, neighborhoods, and long-term and chronic homelessness.  I ended the conversation by thanking him for all the long-term social services his organizations provide to individuals experiencing homelessness who are able to obtain housing. I told him I know that I know  we may disagree about offering street level services that may sustain or enable homelessness rather than services targeted to ending homelessness but it was not my hope to change his mind.  I told him that I would contact him again as we move forward and let him know if I learned that any  of his efforts were in violation of city code or required a city permit, so his attorney could review the situation.

Since I am not involved in the city permit or code compliance process and since I have not been given any directives with regard to the above activities by city authorities, I never indicated any official position of the city with regard to permitting or code violations.

Joseph K. Stiff

Coordinator of Homelessness Response

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Kevin Stiff

Thanks for the summary Kevin. Much appreciated.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Streets of Paradise Shower/Laundry Trailer Use

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Thanks. I will copy Bob Fournier and Gretchen on this as well as well as the PIO office.    

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Appeal Boa decision on 8 for wall variance

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Yesterday the Boa voted 3 to 1 to denied the variance for the 8 foot sound absorbing wall requested by the Strand developer and promised to the neighborhood.

This wall was a condition of our approval as a neighborhood.

Everyone was in favor of it and yet the board denied the request.

The letter from Melinda in favor of the variance as the neighborhood association president was read.

Mention of the rarity of developer and neighbor agreeing on something was also note.

We assumed it was a slam dunk and are all stunned by that decision. I feel we were not properly heard and the board did not understand the impact and nuisance of 168 condos in our small neighborhood.

I share 300 plus feet of fence with the Strand – it’s a huge blow for me. We want to appeal and overturn the decision. How do we go about to do that? Melinda is cc in this email as well. Thanks!

Gina Vutera

Sarasota

Appeal Boa decision on 8 for wall variance

To: Gina Vutera

Thank you for the email. I have copied the City Manager, Mr. Bridges (the applicant), and City Staff – specifically Gretchen Schneider- on this email who can advise on the next step and the criteria.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Supporting our neighbors

To: Sarasota City Commission

I was disturbed to read about the City’s code fanangling to prohibit the operations of Streets of Paradise. Given the inadequate amount of or ineffective policies of the City to provide support to homeless Sarasotans, it seems especially cruel to halt the operations of this nonprofit during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

I encourage you, if not to quickly grant an operating permit to Streets of Paradise based on this new interpretation of municipal code, then I encourage you to at least pursue new efforts in creating more affordable housing both near the downtown core as well as elsewhere within the city limits where it is needed. Instead of just halting homeless relief efforts, it would be great to see a counterproposal that addresses the rising homelessness in Sarasota.

The fact that a Sarasotan is without a home does not change the fact that they are our neighbor and fellow citizen. They deserve dignity like you and me.

Proverbs 14:31 – “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

I look forward to seeing how you address this injustice. Thank you, and I wish you all good health and safety.

Alex Koutelias

Sarasota

 

Supporting our neighbors

To: Alex Koutelias

We are in receipt of your note and thank you for taking a moment to write us.   This is an important issue and challenge and one the city has been engaged with for several years now with increasing success. In your email you expressed that we have halted all homeless relief efforts. This is far from the actual reality. Do you live in the City of Sarasota?  If not, may I ask in general where do you live? FYI, in the neighborhood referenced in the discussion, together, the Resurrection House and Salvation Army shelter offers showers I believe every day of the week, literally within one block of the location where street trailer showering was proposed. Also, the coordinated approach we have been working on over the past 4 years in partnership with all agencies willing to work together has resulted in several hundred homeless being housed. Our city has invested millions in affordable housing over the past decade with several more million in the pipeline.

I have copied our homeless coordinator Kevin Stiff who can provide you any additional information you would like on the extend of the city’s efforts to respond to chronic homelessness including case worker information and homeless outreach team efforts, which are investments already embedded in city budgets. Of course, more housing, more counseling, more case workers and especially more mental health and substance addiction services are needed, especially for the uninsured, following decades of cuts by the federal and state governments.   I am very hopeful that many areas can and will be identified where a portable shower where city water and sanitary lines are not available can be utilized. Services must be available beyond one small area which already provides the bulk of services and all must be conducted with adherence to codes and safety standards.    

For the record, we deeply appreciate and have worked well with the organization referenced in the article you have forwarded as well as many others. We welcome any help you can be moving forward as well. Thanks for caring and sharing your thoughts.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

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