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Editorial Letters – Week ending December 11, 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.

Resident only parking permit program

To: Pete Rowan

The Mayor looped me in on your much appreciated offer to help spread the word about the Village Resident Parking Permit. The Police Dept. is working on the logistical components of ordering permits, taking in payments, etc.  Once those elements are in place, there will be an effort to get the word out via the media, social media, website & through organizations such as the Longbeach Village Association. The Police Dept. will also be putting out a variable message sign along Broadway to inform drivers. We’ll be sure to reach out to you to help with getting the word out.  Thanks too, again, for all of your and your group’s efforts.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

US 41 & Gulfstream Roundabout Project-FDOT Virtual Mtg-Dec. 16

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I was just notified, by Virginia Haley, about this very important meeting that FDOT is holding in regards to the proposed US 41 & Gulfstream Roundabout Project. The meeting will be held on Wed., Dec. 16th from 5pm-6pm.

We have had 3 years of major business interruption-Red Tide, Hurricanes, all of the construction that we have been dealing with for the past two years and now COVID-19. This is an opportunity for your voice to be heard to request a delay, with this project, so that our businesses can all catch a break & get back on their feet again.

Below is the information and the link to register.

I have registered for the meeting. I hope you will, as well.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District One will conduct a virtual public meeting regarding a roundabout construction project at the intersection of US 41 at Gulfstream Avenue in Sarasota, Florida. The meeting will include a brief presentation followed by comments and questions from the public. Click the link below for more information or to register for this event. https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5509486051509451791

Gail Loefgren

President

Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce

 

US 41 & Gulfstream Roundabout Project-FDOT Virtual Mtg-Dec. 16

To: Gail Loefgren

This meeting is on my calendar and I plan to sign in.  Tom and a number of others have been negotiating with Sarasota and the FDOT for many months about the G/41 circle, with the result that no construction in the roadways will begin until after this Season, the period of construction has been reduced by 100 days (and should finish before next Season), penalties have been added for late completion and incentives for early completion, and FDOT is working with the Ritz Carlton to construct a “temporary” pedestrian overpass over Route 41 that we hope could be made permanent and serve as a model for other overpasses in the future.

So, while we would still prefer to have no roundabout, it is clearly coming.  But we are closely monitoring that all promises made are kept.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

New Longboat Fire Truck

To: Longboat Key Commission

I mentioned at yesterday’s Commission meeting that we have taken delivery of the new fire truck.  It is in Town and will be put in service over the next week or so after they finish outfitting it and completing their initial training.  We have scheduled the Truck to be at Town Hall (by the back side of the Library) on Monday, December 14th from 10-11:30 a.m. for any Commissioners that would like to stop by and see the new truck. Thank you on behalf of the staff and the Fire Department for your continued investment in public safety capital needs.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

New guidance per CDC & FDOH

To: Longboat Key Commission

Updated guidance from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health on the amount of time an individual should quarantine when they have had a close contact with an individual with COVID.  The 14 day recommendation remains but they have identified cases where a 7 or 10 day may be appropriate.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

New guidance per CDC & FDOH

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Please see attached for new guidance per CDC and FDOH.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a scientific brief that provides options to reduce quarantine time frames. While a 14-day quarantine is the current recommendation of the CDC, there are some additional options for asymptomatic close contacts to end quarantine earlier than 14 days. As a reminder, close contacts are those individuals who have been within six feet of an infected individual for a cumulative of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, regardless of mask usage.

Edward J. McCrane Jr., FPEM

Emergency Management Chief   EM-1

Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center

 

Last 14 Days

To: Longboat Key Commission

Commissioners, as a follow-up to Mr. Henry’s meeting he went back through the State database for all of Longboat Key for the entire duration of the pandemic and tracked the number of new positives by month from March to current. He also identified the actual numbers of new positives over the past 4 weeks.

is helpful and the first time we have received this level of detail.  Based on his update yesterday he had noted that there are currently 7 positives on the island (still within in quarantine period). I asked him to continue to produce this information on an on-going basis.  He said he will attempt to provide a weekly update of the information to the Town going forward.

It doesn’t address all of the questions we have regarding the State data, but I wanted to share this new information as I think it was a direct result of the discussions yesterday with the Commission and will help in our planning efforts.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Last 14 Days

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with your Board today. I had staff verify the total numbers and we got 99 for a cumulative total. The attached charts break those down by month and for the last month, by week.

This is perhaps a good way to look at your numbers since it captures the increase in cases in October and November. Please note that December is only counting the first 6 days. Also be aware that cases are added as reported so the numbers often change in the most current weeks as that occurs.

Chuck Henry, MPA

Health Officer, Department of Health in Sarasota & Director

Sarasota County Health and Human Services

 

COVID-19 Update 12-04-2020

To: Longboat Key Commission

Sarasota County is now sending COVID 19 reports out on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Their December 4th report is attached. They have changed their report timing and plan to issue their update in the morning, prior to the State website update.  We are currently using the State data posted after their report- so the Sarasota County numbers may be slightly different than what we reflect from the State dashboard.

Statistics from the dashboard on the State website:  www.floridahealthcovid19.gov   The comparison from the day before is included.  We are continuing to see higher positive rates, over 5%).

Florida (an increase of 10,177 positive test results and 124 new deaths)      

Thur 12/3           1,029,030 confirmed cases with 19,112 deaths (positive rate 8.18%)

Fri 12/4               1,039,207 confirmed cases with 19,236 deaths (positive rate 7.48%)

Sarasota County (an increase of 127 positive test results and 8 new deaths)    

Thur 12/3         14,257 confirmed cases with 391 deaths (positive rate 5.52%)

Fri  12/4            14,384 confirmed cases with 399 deaths (positive rate 4.36%)

Manatee County (an increase of 126 positive test results and 4 new deaths)    

Thur 12/3         17,324 confirmed cases with 383 deaths (positive rate 5.96%)

Fri 12/4             17,450 confirmed cases with 387 deaths (positive rate 5.41%)

The current Sarasota County Heat Map for the Longboat Key zip code as of December 4th continues to reflect 0 positive cases in Sarasota County.  The State website data for the Manatee County zip code has 95 cumulative cases for December 4th (up from 92 yesterday) and Sarasota County continues to  reflect <5.  We have been advised that the State data is defaulting to Manatee County for 34228 and the positives are reflective of the entire zip code. Therefore, it is not clear how many cases are in the Sarasota County portion of the island versus the Manatee County portion.

Regardless of the breakdown, we are seeing a spike in numbers within our zip code and that trend is also reflected in the Sarasota County Heat Map with noticeable increases in the zip codes on the mainland. Here are the December 4th statistics for Sarasota County Hospital Beds.

Total beds-1406

Occupied-   1085

COVID related-132

Total ICU beds-114

Occupied-93

COVID related-20

Here are the December 4th statistics for Manatee County Hospital Bed information as listed in their daily Report.

Non-ICU

Total beds-645

Available-64

ICU

Total beds-67

Available-9

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

COVID-19 Update 12-04-2020

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom:  Does Manatee have a heat map, like Sarasota County?  If not, maybe they just allocate county “positives” proportionally across the county zip codes?

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

COVID-19 Update 12-04-2020

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Thanks Mayor-No, Manatee County does not have a heat map. That is produced separately by Sarasota County Emergency Management (not Department of Health) as their planning tool. The County wanted some way to look at actives versus cumulative. They pull the new zip code numbers each day from the State DOH info but it is unique to Sarasota County.

We have asked Manatee County to do something similar. So far, we are only receiving a verbal update once a week. But those numbers don’t necessarily reconcile with the State Dashboard either.

When the numbers were very low it wasn’t obvious that the State was defaulting to Manatee County- with the recent increase in positives it has become obvious.

We haven’t explored the idea of proportionally allocated. We have asked previously that Sarasota County just report on the entire island.  There may be a way to proportionally allocate the numbers – we can have further discussions with Sarasota County on that and/or the single reporting of actives on the island overall.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Correction Needed to Ordinance Providing for Resident-Only Parking Permit Program

To: Longboat Key Commission

Commissioners, see note below from Allen on Ordinance 2020-09 on Monday’s agenda. He just notified me that the Ordinance to the attached staff report does not reflect all of the changes from 1st Reading to 2nd Reading.  It appears that the source document was correct when the agenda item was finalized but something may have happened when converted and published as part of the overall agenda. We will investigate that.

Allen has provided a copy of the Ordinance in PDF format with all the proposed changes (attached). He will also highlight the changes from 1st Reading as part of his presentation on Monday.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Correction Needed to Ordinance Providing for Resident-Only Parking Permit Program

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

In reviewing the agenda materials that were distributed for the Town Commission 12/7/20 Regular Meeting, I noticed that the Ordinance 2020-09 attachment to Item 10B was not accurately displaying all of the text edits that occurred between 1st and 2nd Reading.  I am at a loss as to why that would be, as the source file for Ordinance 2020-09, within the Commission folder, is correct.

I am attaching a copy of a .pdf version of  Ordinance 2020-09 that I just generated from the MS Word source file, which is correct. I have also attached a “Clean Version” that does not depict all of the underline/strikethrough changes. Can you please distribute this corrected version to the Commission prior to the 12/7 meeting?

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Bay Access – East end of Russell Street

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I am not sure who to write to about this problem, so I am writing to you, copying Commissioner Zunz and Mr. Parsons and hoping that one of you will be able to pass this on to the appropriate person at the Town for me.

My wife and I own the house on Russell Street.  For the past 10 years, we and many of our neighbours have used the Bay Access at the east end of Russell Street to launch our kayaks.  I went down there yesterday and found several things that greatly disturbed me.

Firstly, the owner of the house at the corner of Bayside Drive and Russell Street, who has been placing fill on his property between Bayside Drive and the Bay for the past week or more, seems to have recently placed fill on the Bay Access property at the end of Russell Street, adjacent to his land.  I presume that he was entitled to place the fill on his property, but I am surprised that he would be permitted to place fill on the Bay Access property.

Secondly, the blue sign that identifies the location of the Bay Access and the hours that it is open has been pulled out of the ground and is lying there, with the sign itself broken.

Thirdly, the large black plastic stormwater pipe that is supposed to drain Russell Street into the Bay is disconnected from the structure in the water and is arching up several feet in the air, making it impossible for it to fulfill its function of draining stormwater.  It is also now blocking the access to the bay, making it very difficult, if not impossible to launch a kayak there.

I spoke to one of my neighbours about these issues and he advised me that he has recently been told by the owner of the Bayside Drive property that he is the owner of the Bay Access and can do what he wants with it and that he is only allowing the Town to use it.

None of this seems right to me. Certainly the stormwater pipe needs to be fixed.  Can you please have someone check out what is going on there and let me know if the situation of public ownership of this Bay Access from Russell Street has changed?

I appreciate that you are busy, but if you could take a moment to pass this on to the appropriate person, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your help.

Stephen Garrod

Longboat Key

Bay Access – East end of Russell Street

To: Stephen Garrod

Thanks for your email. I wanted to give you a status update on our findings and what we’re doing.

1. PZB has started code enforcement action and issued a Stop Work Order the site.  The fill activity requires the submission of a Shoreline Permit, which will be reviewed for compliance with the Town’s Shoreline Construction and Flood Control requirements.

2. The sign appears to have been removed by the contractor/homeowner doing the work and will have to be reinstalled by them.

3. Based on site inspection today, the stormwater pipe appears to be disconnected from the existing outfall structure. Public Works Department is coordinating this work.

Please do feel free to contact me or the Town’s Building Official, Stan Dinwoodie or Town’s Code Enforcement Officer, Chris Kopp (both CC’d) with any questions or if you see other questionable activities going on.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Main Street Holiday Party

To: Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody

I wanted to give the City the courtesy that I will be having a block party in front of Evie’s on Main Street.  We plan on having this party on the Saturday, Dec. 19.  I have scheduled two bands and it will be a free concert.  I will start setting the stage up at 4 p.m. I will have someone out front re-routing the traffic when we do. I feel this is a great way to be proactive and push business towards downtown with Covid. It is clear that permits are needed in the City anymore to have a block party or a special event. This has been proven for the last 7-8 months in our City limits.  We plan on making sure this is a peaceful event and I have hired security as well. The plan is to start at 9 p.m. and go to 3 a.m. I will send the social event pages later today.

Michael Evanoff

Evies Sarasota

 

Main Street Holiday Party

To: Michael Evanoff

Your email was not clear as to whether you obtained a permit for this event. I am copying the city managers, the police chief, deputy police chief, and our permits director to make sure they are aware of the event.

Liz Alpert

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Raffurty’s/ Major Conditional Use Application (Nightclub) and Site Plan Application

To: Sarasota City Planning Board and Interim City Manager Marlon Brown

I will be testifying at your public hearing Wednesday afternoon regarding the Raffurty’s application for a Nightclub designation, as referenced above.  I ask that this email and the attachments hereto be placed into the record of that hearing.

I live and own at Rivo at Ringling Condominium, 1771 Ringling Boulevard, Unit 1207, with co-owner Xin Akawi.  Our unit is directly in the line of site, and more to the point, the line of sound, of the subject Raffurty’s restaurant at 1888 Main Street.

Since Raffurty’s opened in February, 2019, we have on numerous occasions been subjected to extremely loud and obnoxious amplified noise from that site, which we hear even somewhat through the thick hurricane-grade windows and which precludes us from the enjoyable use of our balcony.  (Although I like to think that I have a wide range of musical tastes, the typical cacophony and stridence of the performances which boom from Raffurty’s strike Xin and I as annoying).

I was surprised upon inquiring that the Sarasota Police Department has only one formal report of a noise complaint about Raffurty’s, because several Rivo owners have reported in Association meetings that they called the police to complain.  We did not, because we were misinformed by the condominium’s management that we had to have the police come to our unit and we chose not to do so.

I did discover, however, from a public records request that there have been other formal reports by the Police Department related to Raffurty’s, some describing very disturbing conduct on and about the property related to alcohol consumption by patrons.   A copy of those reports is attached, for the record.  Such incidents are admissible for consideration of the Planning Board and City Commission in whether the grant the requested conditional use for a Nightclub.

Although it is proposed that Raffurty’s will be required to continue as a restaurant despite being approved as a Nightclub, that does not seem feasible in any meaningful sense because the Nightclub designation will drop the requirement that a majority of Raffurty’s sales be in food.  Without that requirement or any other criteria for the extent of food sales, Raffurty’s could well transform into what would effectively be an entirely alcohol service and entertainment establishment.  Section II of the Zoning Code merely defines “Restaurant” as “A structure in which the principal use is the preparation, cooking, consumption, and sale of food and beverages.” Sell some pretzels at the bar and you’re good to go, it seems.

If Raffurty’s is relieved of operating primarily as a restaurant, it is evident that it will intensify its nightclub operations, or at least maintain them more than is allowed if it is even now violating its liquor license by making most of its revenue from alcohol sales.  Indeed, whether Raffurty’s has been in violation by making most of its revenue from alcohol sales is evidence which the Planning Board should require before acting on the application.  That is particularly true in light of Mr. Raffurty’s prior conduct in this regard at the Old School “restaurant” across Main Street.

To protect the valid interests of the residents of Rivo and of the condominium development now underway across Main Street, any Major Conditional Use approved for Raffurty’s should include the following requirement:

There shall at no time be any live music or amplification of sound outside of a fully enclosed building so as to prevent it being heard outside of that building.

The current proposed condition that merely prohibits live music or amplification on Raffurty’s second floor outdoor patio area, except for special events, is woefully inadequate.  Note that this does not even include the “Soundstage” which the Site Plan depicts as adjacent to but separate from the second floor patio. There could be other locations from which sound could blast, including if the City was to grant a COVID-related permission for use of public property.  And, of course the exception for special events is a huge loophole that sanctions the problem and with indeterminate frequency.

Please note that the City Zoning Code includes the following provisions:

Sec. VII-602. – Specific standards for certain uses.

(r) Sale of alcoholic beverages.

(1) Wherever bars and taverns, nightclubs and alcoholic beverage stores for the sale of alcoholic beverages are allowed by conditional use under the terms of these regulations the planning board shall be authorized to consider the following criteria, where applicable, in addition to the criteria applicable to conditional uses generally:

a. The adverse effects, if any, that the hours of operation of the proposed establishment will have upon neighboring properties, with particular attention to the effects of noise, parking and glare from exterior lighting or headlights on nearby residential properties.

b. The amount and degree of law enforcement activities which could reasonably be anticipated to be generated by the proposed establishment, both outside and inside, with particular emphasis upon noise, vehicular use by patrons and vandalism.

c. Whether the proposed conditional use makes adequate provision for the elimination of the potential for adverse impact upon adjacent residential areas from hazardous or illegal overflow parking.

d.  Whether the proposed conditional use makes adequate provision for the elimination of noise in the form of recorded or live music and for the elimination of common parking lot noises, which could disturb the peace and quiet of the surrounding neighborhood, by means of soundproofing, architectural design, buffers, air conditioning or any other available means.

I have also attached excepts of the City Zoning Code regarding Major Conditional Use applications (with emphases added) which are relevant to this matter and which underscore the need for either denial or the added condition which I have recommended.

Additionally, I adopt and endorse the letter which you have received in this matter from The Rivo at Ringling Condominium Association, Inc.

Thank you for your considerations.

Dan Lobeck, Esq.

Law Offices of Lobeck & Hanson, P.A.

 

Raffurty’s/ Major Conditional Use Application (Nightclub) and Site Plan Application

To: Sarasota City Planning Board

This is to add to my earlier email below.  Again, I ask that this be included in the record of the October 14 Planning Board hearing.

Raffurty’s Application claims there were “no reported calls to the Police Department to our knowledge within the first year of operation,” and boasts that “Raffurty’s has a clean track record during one (1) year of operation.”  It was also reported that staff was aware of “only one disturbance/fight.”

That was all written on April 16, 2019.  (Raffurty’s opened sometime in early March, 2019).

It is false and misleading.

On October 14, 2019, police were called to deal with a “highly intoxicated” woman asleep in her car in the garage who upon being awakened threw up and had to be Ubered home.

On December 10, 2019, police were called for theft of a purse and its contents, including $120, from the back of a chair.

The verbal altercation mentioned did result in a call to the Police Department, by Karl Raffurty himself, on March 18, 2020.

And the Applicant apparently did not consider worth mentioning that on March 19, 2020 (even if barely more than one year after opening) police were called and arrested a Raffurty’s patron for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (a .45 caliber handgun) and use of a firearm under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Much trouble continued after that, as set forth in Sarasota Police Incident Reports.

May 15, 2020:  Shots fired, six times (as evidenced by the bullet casings) into the air just outside of Raffurty’s.

June 11, 2020:  A woman claiming to be part-owner of Raffurty’s called police on a man for assaulting her with his hand “brushed down the center of her chest” (although she declined to press charges).

On July 7, 2020, Karl Raffurty called the police to remove two homeless men asleep on the patio.

On August 9, 2020, the police were called in response to an alleged physical altercation between patrons, but no one was arrested.

The Police Incident Reports are attached for the record to my previous email.

So much for a “clean record.”

I recite all this because it goes to the credibility of the Applicant as well as the sections of the Zoning Code which require consideration of such incidents in a request for Major Conditional Use for a Nightclub.

Also false is the Applicant’s claim in its April 16, 2019 submission that there is “no nearby existing or planned upper story residential development.”  Staff’s report states twice that my condominium, Rivo at Ringling, is “just over 500 feet away” from Raffurty’s, which most people would consider “nearby.”

Indeed, consider the following two photos taken from the Raffurty’s page on Yelp.  That’s Rivo in the background, and my unit can be seen facing Raffurty’s on the 12th floor.  Again, from my unit I clearly hear the loud amplified live music from the patio in the foreground of these photos, which by that audibility  — even at Raffurty’s property line much less just over 500 feet away — is a violation of the City noise ordinance, as detailed in the letter to you from the Condominium Association.

Also, certainly Mr. Raffurty and his land use attorney were well aware on April 19, 2020 – although they falsely claimed otherwise — that there is “planned upper story residential development” directly across Main Street, on the site now being cleared for a new multi-story condominium development.

Speaking again of the noise, Raffurty’s application is false in stating, “All live music in Raffurty’s occurs inside and complies with all City noise ordinances” and “To the extent that the restaurant conducts live music such takes place inside the restaurant and complies with all City of Sarasota noise ordinances.”

Not only is the sound from the amplified live music demonstrably in violation of the noise ordinance but it is an outrageous falsehood to claim that it takes place only “inside the restaurant.”  An outdoor patio with speakers blaring towards Rivo is by any standard not “inside the restaurant.”

An additional issue not yet discussed is the request for approval of a revised Site Plan for Raffurty’s – one that explicitly depicts a “Performing Stage” outdoors adjoining the outdoor “Patio”.

Raffurty’s Application for that approval and for the Major Conditional Use claims that the new Site Plan depicts the same identical layout as the existing Site Plan for the property.  Again, that appears to be false.  There are two site plans included in the Agenda materials for this Application and neither contain the detail which the City is now being asked to approve.  Do the Planning Board and the City Commission really want to approve a Site Plan for Raffurty’s which the Nightclub can then cite to allow a ‘PERFORMING STAGE” for outdoor live music, when City staff proposes to ban it on the second floor patio?  We can hear it now:  “The live music is not on the Patio!  It’s on the Performing Stage next to the Patio, and you approved it!  What do you think we were going to put on the Performing Stage – mimes?”

If Raffurty’s is going to allege that all of its live music is only indoors, that is “inside the restaurant”, then it should have no problem with the Planning Board adding a Condition which actually requires that, as I drafted and offered in my previous email.  And requiring that the Performing Stage be removed from the Site Plan.

Or perhaps the Applicant can understand being handed a denial for failing to be forthright with the City in its Application, and for all the other reasons supporting that action. Again, thank you for your considerations.

Dan Lobeck, Esq.

Law Offices of Lobeck & Hanson, P.A.

 

This Is Why Raffurty’s Nightclub Conditions Should Be Put To Public Hearing

To: Sarasota City Commission

A compelling reason why you should set the Raffurty’s Nightclub approval for public hearing when this comes up at your meeting Monday afternoon is to fix an error in the Conditions.

Under Section IV.905(b) of the Zoning Code, you have three choices on Wednesday: (1) approve the recommendation before you, (2) deny it, or (3) set it for public hearing and at that time deny it or approve it with Conditions that you approve.

The problem is this.

The original Conditions recommended to the Planning Board by staff included the following:

No live or amplified music shall be performed or cast directly from the second floor outdoor patio area except in conjunction with an approved Temporary Activity or Special Event permit.

Somehow this wording got changed at or after the Planning Board meeting, for your consideration Monday, to the following:

No speakers are allowed on the second-floor outdoor patio area except in conjunction with an approved Temporary Activity or Special Event Permit

At no time however did the Planning Board discuss or explicitly determine to strike the phrase “live or amplified music”.  Instead, the focus was on the number and location of speakers on the second-floor patio area which the Board wanted to be removed and how portable speakers could be used during temporary and special events.  In any event, as I communicated to the Planning Board in my emails below, the use of the phrase “second-floor outdoor area” is very problematic.

The problem is that loud music from a band, particularly with amplifiers on the Performance Stage, will still create the acknowledged noise problem into Rivo at Ringling Condominium.  Very significantly, the “Performance Stage” is depicted on the proposed Site Plan as a separate area from the Patio Area, divided by a line, both on the second floor.

At the Planning Board hearing, Karl Raffurty testified that he does not have bands perform on the second floor, instead only from the patio on the first floor.   That may be the case in recent months, in anticipation of the Nightclub application.

In fact however, I can tell you from personal observation that he has in the past had bands performing from the Performing Stage on the second floor.  Their music, very loud and raucous, transmits directly into my Unit 1207 at Rivo and into other units.  Please see the attached letter from Rivo at Ringling Condominium Association which staff determined to omit, together with my emails and all but one email from a resident supporting the application, from the “Public Comment” materials included in your Agenda materials for Monday.

Rivo is just over 500 feet from Raffurty’s.  Its proximity is evident from the following photo posted for Raffurty’s on Yelp, taken from Raffurty’s second floor patio:

I recently spoke with Karl Raffurty and he agreed to work with me in an attempt to draft revised wording of the Conditions which meets the concerns of Rivo at Ringling and are also acceptable to him.  Last week Steve Rees, the attorney for the developer of the condominiums being built directly across Raffurty’s, who also opposes the Nightclub Application with the present Conditions, has also expressed an interest in seeking such a win-win outcome.

In order to fix this problem in the wording of the Conditions, hopefully in a manner agreeable to all concerned, the Application for Major Conditional Use for a Nightclub must be set for a public hearing on a future date.

Also of course, it is only right and proper for the City Commission to hold a public hearing so that the affected public can receive proper notice and be fully heard. Thank you for your considerations.

Dan Lobeck, Esq.

Law Offices of Lobeck & Hanson, P.A.

 

Raffurty’s Nightclub application

To: Sarasota City Commission

While it appears to me that the Commission has a reasonable basis to direct that this Major Conditional Use Application be set for public hearing tomorrow if you decide to do so, there is one thing stated below that I should comment on to avoid confusion.

The three choices recited below are actually the choices that the Commission would have if you scheduled a public hearing on the application rather than the choices you have tomorrow.  Upon the closing of a (future) public hearing the City Commission could: (1) approve the major conditional use application with no changes (i.e. affirm the Planning Board recommendation); or (2) approve the major conditional use application with modified or additional conditions (i.e. differing from the conditions set by the Planning Board); or (3) deny the major conditional use application.

Tomorrow though, you have only two choices, which are: (1) approve the major conditional use application with no changes (i.e. accept and affirm the Planning Board recommendation); or (2) direct that a public hearing on the application be scheduled in the future. If the Commission selects choice number 2, then at the time of the future public hearing the Commission will have the three options set out in the preceding paragraph available.

Tomorrow is not an advertised public hearing on the major conditional use application, so no new evidence or testimony on the merits of the application can be considered. The only public hearing on the application so far has been held by the Planning Board.  That hearing resulted in a 3-2 vote for approval. The City Commission can lawfully reverse or modify this approval, but only after the City Commission conducts its own public hearing to hear testimony and receive evidence, which can include new testimony and evidence not considered by the Planning Board.

If in fact it turns out there is an inaccuracy in the Planning Board’s Resolution in that it does not correctly state one of the conditions contained in the Planning Board’s recommendation made at its hearing, then that will have to be looked into and corrected either way, whether the City Commission accepts the Planning Board recommendation or decides to schedule a public hearing on the application.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

Last night’s Botanical Gardens ZTA

To: Sarasota City Mayor Hagen Brody

Thank goodness the first step to Selby Gardens Master Plan is almost behind us with a positive result for Selby Gardens.

What was most frustrating about last night was the large number of public members who did not talk about the ZTA in front of the Commission yet rambled on ad nauseum without being reminded their comments weren’t relevant to the issue before the Commissioners. This diminishes the value and purpose of the legislative public hearing, a formal process, and increased the length of a public hearing without cause. It’s one thing to provide the public a forum in which to speak about their feelings, but those feelings need to be relevant. You’re not just wasting the Commissioners’ time, but confusing the heck out of the public about what the real issue is. And it sounded as though at least one of the Commissioners was confused too. Why couldn’t either the Mayor or the City Attorney remind people at the beginning of the public input portion of the public hearing that they need to address the agenda item and nothing else. If speakers don’t do that, intervene and ask them to stop. Commissioners should be held to the same standard. If irrelevant issues are being raised the process becomes muddled making it harder for the Commissioners to make an informed decision. And it makes it harder for the public to understand what transpired.

Another issue for me was the Notice issued by the Clerk’s Office about agenda item XIII.2. it was long, wordy and complicated. Whatever happened to plain English? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that it so confused people that they weren’t clear that this item was the creation of a new zone district and nothing else. The map of Selby Gardens property on the back of the Notice also may have led readers to believe this was really about Selby Gardens Master Plan as previous hearings were. Couldn’t these public hearing notices make it clear in simple English what the issue is? Thanks for listening and have a joyous holiday season.

Ken Shelin

Sarasota

 

Last night’s Botanical Gardens ZTA

To: Ken Shelin

Thank you for your comment in regards to the Notice issued by my office and I truly do understand your frustrations. We legally have to publish the Ordinance or Resolution title as written. We cannot paraphrase the language for plain English because we risk errors in translation. We try to provide numbers where the public and get information or ask questions.  I apologize if this causes any inconvenience. If I can be of further assistance please feel free to contact me.

Shayla Griggs

City Clerk

City of Sarasota

 

Commissioner’s Corner

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch

I’ve asked Mike Adkinson and Jim Ludwig (both copied) if they would join me at the Thursday, December 10th (morning) Commissioner’s Corner meeting via Zoom.  Together, the three of us can speak to the impact of Hotel Houses on St. Armands and Lido Keys.  This is now 17 days away.  Please send us any details, or ideas about how this might go, when you can.

Chris Goglia

Sarasota

Commissioner’s Corner

To: Chris Goglia

Thank you for making yourself available to participate in Zoom Commissioner’s Corner and to discuss the issue of Hotel Houses. If you could send a brief bio for each of you as a short intro that would be helpful along with an outline of the discussion. Also, if you could gather some images to use, that is a good idea as well.

Miles would like to schedule a meeting to go over the details and to see the set up of each of us as this will be done via Zoom. He wants to make sure we all have good internet connection and good Zoom set-up. This should take 15-30 minutes. I have copied Alexya on this email along with Miles Larson and John Nopper so we can set up a Zoom meeting and work out those details together. Thanks again!

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

A few thoughts of support to you before your proposal at the City Commission meeting

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

I am from Lido. We have met a few times. I have written to you (a card) about van Wezel, and seen you around town. I am currently stuck in London. I have been trying to call since Friday – just to give my 2 cents opinion:

I am grateful for all the work you have been doing. Please please don’t retire! Especially not right now in such a dangerous time.

I am deeply disturbed that within 24 hours of Erik Arroyo becoming deputy Mayor and Hagen Brody becoming Mayor, there was a conversation (don’t know the contents) resulting in your offering to retire.

I am deeply disturbed at how already the new Commission now we have lost Shelli Freeland Eddie and Willie Shaw is looking, eg the conduct of a recent meeting where the Unconditional Surrender statue was discussed and the concerns of Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch were rather brushed aside. I’m also not sure from where some younger male Commissioners gain the audacity to lecture the meeting’s audience about whether women should be offended by the statue. I am personally not offended by it, but it’s not up to a couple of guys to tell the women of Sarasota what they should think of it. It’s the kind of thing that shows a questionable judgment. I do not want our great and beautiful city run in a kind of tumultuous way at such a difficult global/national time anyway.

I am very pleased with the mindset you bring to City work – I don’t always agree with what you do, but mostly I do, and I admire the sense of judgment that you bring to the job.

I have also appreciated the mask ordnances that you brought in – unfortunately it seems to be a minority sport in Sarasota at the moment to view Covid as a fact of science, rather than a figment of politics (my family is full of medics and scientists-  and we like to deal in the unavoidable truth of facts; and despite coming from a full spectrum of political views, we don’t hail to the gnashings of the leader of a movement with the hallmarks of a bizarre cult that seems to have taken over lately.)

If you must retire, and I do understand the attraction of enjoying the place rather than having to firefight for it (still hoping to enjoy that myself someday!), could you please do it as slowly as possible.

Could you also please be involved in the selection of a new City Manager – because I am very concerned about it being in the hands of this new Commission. I am very happy with the work of Jen Ahearn-Koch, we need more like that. And although I don’t agree with everything Liz Alpert does, there is a sensibleness of approach.

More concerning still, is the undermining comments made of you and of Jen Ahearn-Koch by others who have now taken the baton-  that the City Manager acting with the Mayor has too much power and Mayor is only ceremonial. Five minutes later there seems to be talk at least in the press of a City “Strong Mayor” – all the power effectively in one person – that is a terrible idea for a place like Sarasota at the moment, so divided as it is on its priorities, and it is a relatively small city – we are not talking of something like the Mayor of New York.

It seems to me the City Manager has been made very much a scapegoat for some of the dysfunctional behavior of the Commission of late. I think this is wrong. I support what you do and am very grateful for your work and your demeanour even if I don’t agree with all your decisions – because I know the decisions are coming from a place of reasoned decency. Reasoned decency is in short supply lately in much of public life. Also the City Manager is and at its best always has been a somewhat visionary role – just look at Ken Thompson. (As you well know) he was not a mere functionary to do the mundanities of implementing what a Commission which isn’t allowed to talk to each other because of sunshine laws so brings its silo’d members to the chamber with who-knows what motivations tells him to do. It’s not like we’ve never seen conflicts of interest or campaign donors try to influence a commissioner.

So for the stability of this City (and some stability is what it needs – every neighbor I talk to is worried about its future, its overbuilding, its water quality, its culture and its traffic) I would ask you to stay in post. I don’t kid myself that my views will make any difference to your decision. But I wanted to express them anyway, so you know that you are more supported than the press and some Commissioners make out, and your work and the way that you approach doing it, are very important to us. You seem to have a much better sense of that than some shorter term commissioners in some cases who have very set own agendas, don’t want to listen to the public and don’t remember that they work for all of us who pay our taxes to their salaries. Please do stick around.

Laura Thompson

Sarasota

 

A few thoughts of support to you before your proposal at the City Commission meeting

To: Laura Thompson

Hi, I apologize about the delay getting back to you, I was tied up in the City Commission meeting until 1 am last night.  But I can let you know, I walked Lido this morning and although a little blustery, (the winds of change) it was wonderful and as big as it’s probably ever been over the past 25 years.

Thanks so much for your email, it’s one of the nicest I’ve ever received (and spot on I might add, LOL).

I do recall meeting you on Lido and I hope all is well in London, and with your, as I recall, fairly demanding business.  I hope you can get back as you need or want.   Let us know if we can help with anything.

We are living through such unprecedented times, strange and complicated times. And I think they had something to do with my readiness to take a quick break, reflect, and open up a new chapter or two while I still can and enjoy good health.

Perhaps if and when things settle down we will run into each other again, perhaps when both of us have more than 5 minutes to share updates.   

Until then, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for your wonderful note, caring and sharing. And Best Wishes for a wonderful holiday season and safe travels and in all of your future endeavors.

PS. I had a superstar in city management backing me up and I think he will do a wonderful job continuing to lead the team I mostly hired.   

PSS. My private email is tombarwin@gmail.com. And I do plan on living in Sarasota for the foreseeable future and helping the community keep getting better, just in a different way.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Civility

To: Sarasota City Mayor Hagen Brody

I believe that public hearings are preceded about a statement of civility. I know this to be the case for each and every Longboat Key Commission meeting. Mr. Hyde has a right to speak as he did the other night at the Public Comment period. I thought he was rude, disrespectful, vicious, sarcastic and I could go on with more descriptive language but that would not be civil. Mr. Hyde’s Merry Christmas finale was the height of hypocrisy after his tirade of personal invective against Commissioners Alpert and Ahearn-Koch and Mr. Barwin.

It is what Mr. Hyde said and what was not said in the aftermath of his verbal bloodbath.

And what should have been said should have been said by you, our Mayor. The silence was deafening to my ears.

Larry Grossman

Sarasota

 

Civility

To: Larry Grossman

Thank you for sharing your insights and observations.  I can not understate how demoralizing allowing these consistently untrue and hateful invectives are to the victims of the assaults ( who are good people in already tuff jobs) and how weakening it is to the social fabric of the community likely discouraging others to participate in hearings, or running for office or serving the public in a public administration role.  I haven’t seen anything remotely like this in 43 years of attending over 2,000 public meetings.

I pray your advice is heeded and somehow this finally runs it’s course and we get back to basic civility even when people legitimately disagree, which as you know is the hallmark of local government, or has been up until recent times. Take care, be safe and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Lift 87 Project – Continued Impacts on S. Osprey

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert

We are dismayed and very disappointed that we have not received a response (or even a simple acknowledgement) from you to this email sent one week ago. Are you not the one who represents District 2 where we reside?

We have also gotten no response from City Manager Barwin or Mayor Brody.  This apparent lack of concern by city leadership including our elected representatives is hard to understand.

James and Cheryl Openshaw

Sarasota

 

Lift 87 Project – Continued Impacts on S. Osprey

To: Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody, City Manager Tom Barwin

Please see our email below to Lift 87 Project Manager Anthony Centurione and Utilities Department Director Bill Riebe, which has thus far gone unanswered.

We were thrilled at the start of 2020 to be moving to the City of Sarasota full time into a home we purchased last year.  We were initially told the Lift 87 project work in front of our house would take place during the hot summer months in 2020 when we would be indoors mostly and perhaps traveling to cooler climates.   Then the delays mounted…and mounted.  Work that was to take place in the summer was pushed to October; then November; and is now slated to occur in December just in time for the long-awaited nice weather and the holiday season.  Work on S. Osprey to date by the Lift 87 phase 3 contractor has taken 10-1/2 weeks instead of the 3-1/2 weeks forecasted on September 1 by the City at a public meeting.  That is 3 times longer than expected.

We have tried to be accommodating.  Based on ever changing work schedules from the City, we have planned and taken 3 separate trips since late September (totaling more than 5 weeks) in a futile attempt to escape the loud noise, dust and inconvenience of it all.  As you can imagine, scheduling trips away from home during the pandemic, especially for those of us over 60, requires careful planning and considerable expense.  Now, just as we are set to return from our latest trip, the harshest impacts will be upon us.

Our attempts to be away when the work in front of our house is taking place has been driven not only by our desire to avoid the noise and inconvenience of it all, but to also spare our dog who has extreme anxiety around loud noises.  Trying to take her for a walk when loud equipment is operating is incredibly stressful for her and is sometimes impossible.

There have been no lovely afternoons spent on our lanai due to extreme noise and dust, and the noise and vibration even inside our home is intolerable.  We are hesitant to have family visit us for the holidays, as planned, for fear they will be told they cannot access our home.  Earlier this week, someone attempting to get to our neighbor’s home was denied access.  They had to turn around and leave because the contractor refused them access.

Access to our block on S. Osprey has been restricted at both Lincoln and Alta Vista due to this project which is ridiculous. Despite assurance from City officials, we fear what might happen if a house fire or medical emergency were to befall a resident along this section of S. Osprey Ave.  Is there a guarantee that first responders know exactly how to get to our houses right now?  Will they be able to get whatever equipment and personnel the situation requires to our houses? Will the current situation mean the loss of important and potentially life-saving seconds? We simply do not know. We hope you will agree that this is unacceptable.

The new schedule given to us last week outlines +/- 150 feet of new sewer line installation, new manhole installation, several sewer line service connections and roadway restoration up through base asphalt over a 3-week timeframe (e.g. 11/30 through 12/19). A similar scope of work just north of our house took two months to complete.  Therefore, we have no confidence in the new schedule and our concern, despite City assurances to the contrary, is that continued delays will result in the road being torn up in front of our house for an extended period of time when the Lift 87 project’s phase 3 contractor demobilizes for the Christmas holiday, leaving us with limited access and an unsightly mess until sometime in January.

Quite frankly, we feel we are being denied the use and enjoyment of our home well beyond what is reasonable for the City to expect a resident to endure or accept.

We request you take immediate steps to improve the project’s track record.  We also want assurances from you that we will be able to resume normal, unrestricted use and enjoyment of our home in the near future, especially over the holidays.  We also request residents such as ourselves who are suffering direct negative impacts from this project be compensated for the inconvenience, expense and hardship the project has caused us.

James and Cheryl Openshaw

Sarasota

 

Updated Schedule

To: Sarasota City Capital Projects Engineer Tony Centurione

Thank you for your 11/23 email with the updated schedule of work on S. Osprey between now and the end of the year.

Since our initial meeting with you last spring, when you advised us that the Lift 87 project work on S. Osprey Ave. in front of our house would all take place in late summer, the credibility of your schedule updates has steadily eroded. The project team’s record of missing milestone dates provided in the several schedule iterations that you have provided, particularly since the September 1 public meeting, gives us little confidence in these new schedule dates. As you know, the Phase 3 construction work performed to date on S. Osprey was expected to take 3-1/2 weeks but took 10-1/2 weeks instead – an increase of 233%!   Importantly, the delays experienced by the phase 3 contractor due to ineffective dewatering in September and insufficient preparation for Tropical Storm Eta in November were of their own making; however, these events alone do not explain the extensive delays since September 1.

We have tried to be accommodating.  Based on the original schedule and subsequent delays as they became apparent to us, we scheduled and took 3 separate trips away from our home between late September and early December (totaling 5 weeks) in a futile attempt to avoid the mess, noise and inconvenience and at the same time minimize the interruptions our access needs would cause to the progress of the work.  As you can imagine, travel and staying away from home during the pandemic, especially for those of us over 60 years of age, is not easy and requires careful planning and considerable expense.

Now, just as we are set to return home from this latest trip, it appears that the harshest impacts will be upon us.  It is worth repeating that crews will now be performing work that was to have been completed in October according to your office on September 1.  Our attempts to be away when work is taking place in front our house was driven not only by our desire to avoid the noise and inconvenience of it all, but to also spare our dog who has extreme anxiety around loud noises.  Trying to take her for a walk when loud equipment is operating is incredibly stressful for her and is sometimes impossible.

The new schedule outlines +/- 150 feet of new sewer line installation, new manhole installation, several sewer line service connections and roadway restoration up through base asphalt over a 2-1/2 week timeframe (e.g. 12/01 through 12/19).  A similar scope of work just north of our house took two months to complete.  Again, we have no confidence in the new schedule and our concern is that continued delays will result in the road being torn up in front of our house for an extended period of time when the contractor demobilizes for the Christmas holiday leaving us with limited access and an unsightly mess until sometime in January.

As for vehicular access to our house during this next phase of work, we do not think it practical to schedule our daily comings and goings in advance, including ad hoc trips to the store because of some last minute need, so that the contractor can move heavy equipment out of the way and make the roadway safe and clear for car travel.  That will be inconvenient for all involved and certainly will not help the project schedule. We have previously asked for designated parking spots within an easy and safe walk to our house and re-iterate that request now.  We believe designating 3 parking spots for us on the newly re-opened section of S. Osprey just north of our house would be reasonable.

Given that the project update you provided to all neighborhood stakeholders on 11/24 indicates intersection improvements at Lincoln and Osprey will be finished in December, please explain how that work will impact neighborhood vehicular access through that intersection.  Will use of that intersection be restricted in any way in December?

Also, please be reminded that we have a few important home improvement projects scheduled for mid-December.  These will be coordinated with you as specific dates are confirmed with our home improvement contractors.  Access to our house by box delivery trucks and pickup trucks on those days will be necessary.

This time of year for us in our new Sarasota home was to have been filled with family visits, holiday celebrations and enjoyment of the nice weather.  Quite frankly, we feel that we are being denied the use and enjoyment of our home and it has been impossible to plan and schedule anything around the contractor’s activities because they have been ever-moving targets.  At this point, we request the City provide us with some sort of compensation as our patience and understanding is exhausted.  We also request firm assurance that we will have unrestricted access to both of our driveway entrances between December 19 and January 4 regardless of the contractor’s success in meeting these latest schedule milestones.

James and Cheryl Openshaw

Sarasota

 

Updated work schedule

To: James and Cheryl Openshaw

Following up on our conversation from last week, Garney has produced an updated schedule that details the work planned through the balance of the year (see below).

The goal is to get the gravity sewer installed past the driveway of 986 S. Osprey Ave (this is STA 48+00 listed below). Being able to get the pipe to this point would have all the sewer services on Osprey Ave moved over to the new pipe and enable Garney to restore up to the driveway of 986 S. Osprey Ave so that all residents on Osprey will have access from the North.

For the Christmas holiday break (12/24 – 1/4), Garney will remove their trench box or put road plates over it.  Equipment will be relocated away from the worksite, so you can expect to have access from the North and South on Osprey Ave.

This schedule assumes 20 feet of pipe installed per day, which is doable.  The key will be to get the curbs, road base, and asphalt in quickly after the pipe is installed.  I think it would be helpful to have a follow-up conversation about what level of service will be acceptable to you.  If you are willing to drive on road base until the road is paved, that will enable to Garney to move much faster. Garney is also willing to cover your expenses if you would like to stay somewhere else.  Can we setup a meeting / call after Thanksgiving to discuss the details of the work plan?

Tony Centurione

Capital Projects Engineer

City of Sarasota

 

Updated Schedule

To: Sarasota Capital Projects Engineer Tony Centurione

Task Name Duration Start Finish Predecessors

Install first lift of pavement from STA 51+88 to STA 49+853 daysMon 11/23/20Wed 11/25/20

Install Gravity Sewer from STA 49+70 to STA 49+531 dayMon 11/30/20Mon 11/30/20

Install MH-12 2 days Tue 12/1/20 Wed 12/2/20 2

Install Gravity Sewer from STA 49+53 to STA 48+00 8 days Thu 12/3/20 Fri 12/11/20 3

Install Service Laterals 2 days Thu 12/10/20 Fri 12/11/20 4FS-2 days

Install Curb from STA 49+85 to STA 48+00 2 days Sat 12/12/20 Mon 12/14/20 5

Install Road Base from STA 49+85 to STA 48+00 4 days Tue 12/15/20 Fri 12/18/20 6

Install Pavement from STA 49+85 to STA 48+00 1 day Sat 12/19/20 Sat 12/19/20 7

Install Water Main from STA 41+00 to STA 47+00 7 days Sat 12/12/20 Sat 12/19/20 4

Install Road Base from STA41+00 to STA 47+00 7 days Sat 12/12/20 Sat 12/19/20 9FS-7 days

Install Trench Patch from STA 41+00 to STA 47+00 1 day Sat 12/19/20 Sat 12/19/20 10FS-1 day

Kevin Kraus

Garney Construction

 

Growing talent

To: Sarasota City Commission

As I continue to quickly wind down my role at city hall, it dawned on me that there are some things the administration does to grow our talent from within, that may help some additional comport and confidence that operations are a strength of the city. Like a great pro sports franchise we strive to grow our talent from within as much as possible. This strength allows policy makers to truly focus on polity and the decisions before them each month.

With your busy schedules you may not have time to take in our last emerging leaders presentations, but the first one really does a great job giving you some insights to the Deputy City Manager and Assistant City Manager, and how and why they are so well regarded within our city government, and why the city runs most days so smoothly.   

Although there is always more that can be done, and resources are limited, this internal program should help assure you, especially new commissioners, that your staff has not, nor will they be resting on their laurels.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Civility effort

To: Sarasota City Commission

On my first day in office, I committed to promoting civility at the Sarasota City Commission. It is evident from what has transpired in the past month that this has not been reciprocated by some of my fellow commissioners. Speaking negatively and insultingly of other commissioners to the media lowers our collective value and representative authority. Instead of addressing the issue directly, lashing out in public spectacle at your peers in the City Commission Chambers because you disagree with a course of action is not only disrespectful and unprofessional, but it violates oaths of conduct and duty that we have undertaken when assuming office. We also have to make sure this is not violated by anyone else entering our chambers. Although I wanted to address this matter during our last meeting, it was well after midnight and I felt that it was an improper forum for the aforementioned reasons.

Repeatedly, I have attempted to foster civility by making concessions and compromises regarding board appointments, resolutions, and other decisions based on a strong opposing and compelling position taken by fellow commissioners. This same courtesy in considering opposing views has not been afforded to me. We all need to do better.

When we meet again in January, it will be an opportunity for a fresh start and to leave the fatuous rhetoric behind by deliberating matters in a way that sets the standard for future commissions. This new beginning includes the active participation of those elected to represent. Many of the precautions taken by the City Staff—which includes spending over $30,000 in machines, plexiglass dividers, masks, seating separations, and additional personnel—was done at the request of some commissioners who have since refused to attend regular meetings under the new commission. Additionally, a virtual appearance does not count towards our quorum requirement.

Due to these reasons, I urge the entire Sarasota City Commission to be physically present at all future meetings. The challenges that await us cannot be addressed passively. I, therefore, promise to be there, to respectfully disagree, to interrupt less, to listen attentively, to avoid jumping to conclusions, and to always welcome a fair compromise. I hope that you will too.

Wishing You a Happy and Humbling Holiday Season.

Erik Arroyo

Vice Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Scheduling of Selby for a special meeting

To: Sarasota Interim City Manager Marlon Brown and City Attorney Robert Fournier

It is my humble opinion that the Selby ZTA and other items should be scheduled for a Special City Commission Meeting in January and not be scheduled at a Regular City Commission meeting on January 4, 2021.

This item took 13 hours at the Planning Board Meeting conducted over two days. The BG ZTA alone took 3+ hours at the City Commission’s last meeting, and caused our meeting to go until 12:40 a.m.

On the heels of a New Year and in the spirit of trying to work with the Mayor in his efforts to make the Regular City Commission meeting more predictable (time-wise), this would undermine that effort. It would not be a good start to the new Commission Year or to the new Mayor’s efforts. Respectfully, we should give the Mayor’s initiative an honest effort and scheduling the Selby (and city-wide) ZTA and other applications would have – in my opinion – the opposite, and unintended, effect. We could work proactively, now to schedule a special City Commission Meeting in January for this item, perhaps January 11 or 25, 2021. I appreciate you all carefully considering this suggestion.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Media Contact: Selby Gardens, ABC 7

To: Sarasota City Senior Communications Manager Jan Thornburg

Reporter/Media Outlet: Francesca Constantini, ABC 7

Contact info: 941-400-4806, fconstantini@wwsb.tv

Query: Reporter is doing a story about the Selby Gardens application and requested background information about Monday’s City Commission agenda item.

Response: Communications provided general information about the zoning text amendment to create a botanical gardens district that was approved at Monday’s meeting. A second public hearing is required, and it is tentatively planned to be held at the commission’s Jan. 4 meeting, which would also include hearings on Selby’s site plan/rezone application. More specifics about their proposed plan will be considered at that time, and the reporter was encouraged to contact Selby Gardens leadership for additional details.

Coordination: Communications

Note: Story is expected to air during today’s 5 p.m. broadcast.

Jason Bartolone

City of Sarasota

Communications Specialist

 

Commissioner’s Corner TV Show

To: Sarasota City Vice Mayor Erik Arroyo

The Clerk’s Office produces a show called “Commissioner’s Corner” on a monthly basis, rotating through the Commission, one Commissioner per month. It’s a 30-minute talk show where the Commissioner has on a guest or guests to discuss a topic of his or her choosing. We’ve been on hiatus for most of 2020 for obvious reasons, but we’re gearing back up to restart.

We’re recommending that the interview be done on Zoom as it’s easier to schedule, safer for all, and the audience considers it ‘normal’ nowadays. We’re putting together a schedule and wanted to see if you’re interested before getting you lined up. The tentative schedule is as follows:

Ahearn-Koch: 12/20

Brody: 1/21

Alpert: 2/21

Battie: 3/21

Arroyo: 4/21

So, with this schedule (not confirmed), you’d have a few months. You’d shoot yours in March for air in April. If you have any questions, please give us a call.

Miles Larsen

Manager Public Broadcasting

City of Sarasota

 

Commissioner’s Corner TV Show

To: Miles Larsen

My schedule will not allow me to be present on April 21, 2020.

Could we perhaps change it to April 19, 2020?

Erik Arroyo

Vice Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Commissioner’s Corner TV Show

To: Sarasota Vice Mayor Erik Arroyo

Sorry, I wasn’t specific. Your Commissioner’s Corner Episode will be airing the month of April 2021. Which means you’ll be shooting the interview sometime during the month of March 2021. So, if you have a topic/guest in mind, the interview could be scheduled for sometime in March. Then we’ll edit it together (graphics, open, etc.) and air it during April. Any questions, give a shout!

Miles Larsen

Manager Public Broadcasting

City of Sarasota

 

Commissioner’s Corner TV Show

To: Miles Larsen

Thank you for clarifying that. I can be present to interview on a Monday in March. Please coordinate with Alexya, as she knows my schedule better than I do. I’d like my guest to be Cal. He’s a homeless individual that sleeps by the park at Marina Jack.

Erik Arroyo

Vice Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

New Interim Deputy City Manager

To: Sarasota City Commission

On Monday, you gave me the authority to appoint an interim Deputy City Manager to assist me in the leadership transition and restructuring of the organization. I am extremely pleased to announce that Pat Robinson, current Deputy Chief of Police, will be the interim Deputy City Manager effective Monday, December 14. Pat’s length of service within the organization, positive relationship with our employee base, and the respect he has within our community, plus his in-depth knowledge of our strengths and challenges ahead will greatly assist me in my new role. Even though he is already a part of our amazing leadership team, this new role will present new opportunities (and maybe challenges) for him. Please join me in congratulating Pat. Thanks and be safe.

Marlon Brown

Interim City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

New Interim City Manager

To: Sarasota Interim City Manager Marlon Brown, Interim Deputy City Manager Pat Robinson

Good morning Mr. Brown, I would like to congratulate you on your well-deserved appointment as the interim City Manager for which as well as so many have every confidence in You and Your abilities. I would also like to congratulate Mr. Robinson as your newly appointed interim Deputy City Manager. Though Mr. Robinson and I have never met I again have every confidence in your hiring. Mr. Robinson as well comes with a great deal of support and respect for which I have every confidence in him and his abilities and what he has added to our great city with his years of dedicated service. Again, Congratulations to you both for this city is the better for having you both in your new and extremely important and well-deserved positions!

Kyle Battie

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

New Interim City Manager

To: Sarasota Interim City Manager Marlon Brown

Excellent choice Mr. Brown and congratulations Pat! The experience and expertise you’ll bring to our city management team will no doubt take our great city to new heights. We are delighted to have you at City Hall and look forward to working with you.

Hagen Brody

Mayor

City of Sarasota

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