Sunday, April 30, 2006
The new school proposal apparently is still in the preliminary design phase and viable options could be considered.
This is the focus of a small group of concerned architects and preservationists. The group is currently composed of Carl Abbott, Mollie Cardamone, James Bowen, Guy Peterson, Dick Clapp, Mark Ramaeker, Joe King, and Janice Green.
Members of the group have met twice with the School Board President and the Superintendent to discuss options and ideas. It appears that there is a willingness by the school leadership to consider options.
The architects have pointed out that historical designation would make a "restoration" proposal eligible for grants that could significantly reduce costs to the school system. They have also shown sketches that show how the Rudolph building could be used in a new campus layout.
The committee is hopeful that a way can be found that accomplishes the school systems needs for a new campus yet retains the historically significant Rudolph designed structure.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Bilyeu commented: I know that all of you are disappointed with your commissioner, but I am not disappointed in you. [This was met with silence.]
He said he was not trying to jam something down your throats. He said he knows your concerns and wants to work with a group to address those concerns....
He said he represents not only the voters in his district but even those that didn’t vote for him--- people like those that own property in the district, people that work in the district and those in nearby areas like downtown.
Question: why was there no discussion of, nor questioning of, the neighborhood concerns with the developer; why didn’t you bring up the neighborhood concerns? Bilyeu’s answer: silence.
Question: Did you consult with anyone in the neighborhoods in your district, or anyone in your district before this hearing? Answer: No
Question: Federal Law established 3 districts in Sarasota so that citizens would have a representative that would look out for their interests. Did you look out for our interests? No response.
Question: Why the rush to vote on this proposal. Response: I did not see it as a rush. I had plenty of time to read it and understand it.
Question: when did you see it? Answer: at about 3:30 PM - I was probably the first to see it. I saw everything I needed to see.
In between questions he rambled about taking a year and a half to understand land use issues, that he had been through these exact same issues before in his own neighborhood - and a good project will result from it in the end.
The Alta Vista residents expressed displeasure at having spent many months and many hours in meetings with neighbors, commissioners and city staff becoming familiar with the process and the implications of the proposed changes. What was particularly galling was the last minute major change in the project and the subsequent vote to approve with without any analysis at all.
There were no answers as to why their commissioner turned his back on his district voters while embracing yet another developer's money making scheme.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
A recent study aimed at Washington, DC includes the following excerpt:
Regardless of specific type of strategy implemented, our research suggests that three criteria need to be met to foster successful affordable housing efforts: land availability, city government responsiveness, and community involvement.
Another important criteria is city government leadership and dedication to creating and retaining affordable housing. District government plays a key role in creating regulatory supports and removing barriers to housing development, providing project financing or technical support, and marketing the message that affordable housing is a priority. Attentive city management of regulations and city programs can help create opportunities, and neglect on the part of city government can hinder them. The city's task force similarly recommends that the city's administration be more responsive to and streamlined in facilitating affordable housing production, retention, and administering housing programs.
Finally, community involvement can make or break affordable housing plans. City officials and developers who believe they can implement a project without support of the local community will be sadly mistaken. Community members can identify special needs of a neighborhood and develop workable ideas, as well as motivate government and nonprofits to support affordable housing initiatives. Without consultation, community members may also attempt to block any change, and our case studies provide examples of where this occurred.
The critical findings are:
- find land and bank it
- city government responsiveness
- and community involvement
Today’s editorial in the SHT echoes this message, again:
Sarasota needs more affordable housing -- but won't get much of it by alienating neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, that's what three city commissioners did Monday when they green-lighted a developer's plan to parlay a land-use change into a large condominium project along School Avenue.
Why do our commissioners not listen to their constituents? Why do they make no attempt to get community and neighborhood consensus? Why are neighborhoods excluded from the process?
We were told by Commissioner Servian last week that she voted for the density bonus program even though neighborhoods and many citizens told them that the process was too fast, will result in unknown consequences and made no effort to look at infrastructure, traffic, environmental and parking costs. She indicated her reason was to get citizen involvement in the affordable housing process.
There were many citizens involved in the process, and they continue to be involved. What is wrong is that the commission does not listen to the residents. This causes serious questions among the citizens about why should we continue to "waste our time" when our commissioners choose to listen to special interest developers (and their business associates) instead of the citizens. Why should we put our time and effort into a process, hoping to make our community a better place for everyone, only to be faced with seeing developer interests trump the community interests again and again.
Not listening to citizens that vote is a risky path to take.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
At 9 AM on Monday morning, Stan Zimmerman of the Alta Vista neighborhood called the City Planning Department and asked if any change had been submitted for the proposal that was to be considered. He was told none had been submitted. Later, it was indicated to him that a change had been submitted.
In the SHT it was reported that Commissioner Servian complained that she did not see the changed proposal until "just hours before the meeting", adding that she couldn’t be expected to make a decision on something she only had "10 minutes to look at."
The Planning Staff did not make a recommendation because they did not have time to review the proposal.
The city attorney indicated that one of the options for the commissioners was to delay a vote on the proposal until a later date so they would have time to review it. A motion to delay the vote was turned down.
It was also been indicated that the Habitat for Humanity Director committed Habitat involvement without discussing this with the Habitat for Humanity Board.
Are our politicians and community leaders so anxious to show they are doing something that they are willing to completely bypass due process? Is this the kind of leadership we want for Sarasota?
This is the second time this group of commissioners has voted to place the most intense and dense land use right next to single family neighborhoods. The first time was the change in the Downtown Master Plan to make the Burns Square area Down Town Core instead of the recommended Down Town Edge.
Yesterday’s vote was done at the very last minute with less than a few hours notice to commissioners, neighbors and the community. Despite this, the Downtown Partnership and the Young Professional Group apparently knew this was happening and were at the hearing to voice their support for the proposal and discount the concerns of the surrounding neighborhoods.
This was a sad day for Sarasota and the citizens who live here. Without due process why have a city government?
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Hell, Ken, did you ask us to participate? Did you ask us to explore the concept of providing affordable housing? First I heard of a Town Hall Meeting was from another Commissioner on the 17th.
No, you directed staff to create a density bonus plan and directed a consultant to find a way to support it. The staff and consultant are saying that "the commission" added areas Six and Seven.
City Staff applied for the re-zone of the Scotties site without ever asking any of the neighbors for their input aforehand.
When the neighborhood discovered what you were up to, they protested at every opportunity and were simply ignored.
The neighbors all support low impact development on that site and heard visions of two-story townhouses and retail establishments with living quarters above at several of the public hearings. But that all went down in favor of dense high-rise development and, now, bonus density to turn 36 units into four hundred and fifty.
Ken, most of your neighborhood constituency doesn't ride a segway and those of us with a bit of a back yard and breathing room value it highly - we've our life's savings tied up in that little postage stamp lot and it means a lot to us.
Your comment that "Experts world wide have said that density bonuses lower costs" was out of context and disingenuous. Some of those Young Professionals might have understood you to support the idea that increasing density will increase the likelihood they'll find an affordable home in downtown Sarasota, Florida.
Why, the very experts you paid $125,000 to for a report on the concept said it would not work in downtown Sarasota. Who are you going to believe? The "experts" you've but read about, or those you paid to study the matter for you.
By the way, I did a little study of my own using the Montgomery County Maryland efforts as the prime focus and found their experience anything but comparable to the situation in Sarasota. Indeed, in terms of their own criteria for "affordable housing," none of the density bonus/inclusionary zoning public private partnerships provided a single affordable home. Those achieved did so with significant public subsidies. Let me send you a copy of the report.
If you had wanted the community to come forward with proposals to enhance affordable housing opportunities within the City of Sarasota, why did you not ask?
Why, you could have posted a notice to SarasotaVoices. You could have taken time to make a segment for Channel 19 (they did one AFTER you made the decision to hire the consultant - I saw part of it). You could have asked the NPO to advertise the request for input through their newsletter and contacts on the various Neighborhood Associations and CCNA or CONA. You could have written a guest editorial for the SHT. You could have asked those assembled at the Kennedy-King Dinner when you had the floor.
Instead, you and the commission frame the debate and then chastise those who oppose the density bonus solution for not having hired their own consultant or ICARDMERRIL to come up with alternative approaches.
And, you did not listen to those of us who did offer suggestions. Despite my several smoke breaks, I heard a few.
Have employers of Young Professionals increase their salaries, contribute to their health insurance. The City has, itself, gone in the opposite direction by reducing the contribution to health care and holding salaries down despite increasing tax revenues.
And tax revenue should hit home for the Commission. The City has spent millions on the Van Wezel only to have them request trading it off and building a bigger facility. What an impact 20 million would have had on affordable housing had the City spent the money on acquiring property for housing.
Government tends to spend every dollar of tax revenue that comes to it. Instead of holding to a budget and reducing the millage rate for landlords, say, they take in the windfall and discover something to spend it upon.
I know I've missed several of the suggestions made by the "Nos" and hope those I missed will remind you of their suggestions via e-mail after hearing your assertions this evening.
Please don't infer a "tone" to my messages. It is the nature of e-mail to be perfunctory "short and to the point." In the instant case, the medium is not the message. CHARLES
Saturday, April 22, 2006
From the Wall Street Journal:
The slowdown means more houses are piling up on the market. On Cape Cod, the total number of homes for sale has risen 62% since this time last year; in some places in Southwest Florida, home listings are up as much as 75%, say local real estate boards.
And in many coastal communities the number of single-family home sales is down dramatically from last year. Sales have fallen by nearly half in Sarasota, Fla., one-third on Cape Cod and nearly 15% in Newport Coast, Calif.
From the SHT
Speculation was rampant in '05
A national study of housing sales during 2005 confirmed what many had suspected -- that speculation has been rampant in the booming real estate market.
For example, in Charlotte County, 53 percent of homes bought in 2004 did not carry the state's homestead exemption compared with 29 percent for all homes in the county. In Sarasota County, the respective figures were 44 percent and 27 percent; in Manatee County, 39 percent and 27 percent. [Assumes lack of homestead exemption is a strong indicator that purchase is an investment]
From the latest rankings of over priced housing markets in the U. S. (National City Inc):
Sarasota is 23rd on the list being 59% over valued. (Naples is number 1 at 95% over valued)
Friday, April 21, 2006
Notably absent were YPG members, developers and the real estate business people.
John McGruder, the chair of SURE’s Affordable Housing Committee presented the list of requests and commissioners gave a response. City Commissioner Servian answered most of the questions, County Commissioner Mercier spoke and City Mayor Atkins also spoke. Martina Guilfoil, the new director of the Community Housing Trust also briefly spoke.
The format of this "Public Action" is to make a request of public officials and ask them to respond. Audience questions are not allowed.
SURE has done much research on affordable housing solutions. The recommendations are not new as most were presented to City Commission candidates last year and McGruder has discussed these with all commissioners.
The requests and response were:
Request that in the next 60 days the City Commission send the County the necessary request to expand the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) into Newtown such that the current TIF dollars can be spent in the expanded area.
Servian: last year the city pushed to get the CRA expanded into Newtown. So far the city has spent zero dollars on affordable housing. The consultant has said that downtown is not the best area to spend dollars on affordable housing. She shares Mayor Atkins commitment to a city wide plan.
Request that in the next 60 days the City Commission commit to spend not less than $25 million in future TIG dollars to advance the rental and homeownership housing needs of very low, low and moderate income households.
Servian: I will bring this to the commission table. She indicated that she did not know if $25 million was the right number.
Request that in the next 60 days the City Commission submit the necessary documentation to partner with the Community Housing Trust (CHT) established by the County Commission.
Servian: we have made a commitment to partner with the CHT - the city has taken a step back in this area and let the county take the lead in establishing the CHT. She endorses the CHT.
Request that in the next 90 days the City Commission provide sufficient funds to the CHT to hire a professional fund raiser who will seek significant contributions from major commercial, civic and private donors.
Servian: City will support the CHT Executive Director in financial requests.
Request that within the next 90 days the City Commission seek to schedule the first of what would become a regular (perhaps quarterly) meeting with representatives of the County Commission and the Community Housing Trust to review mutual goals of funding, perpetual affordability, regional cooperation and other interests as may be appropriate.
Servian: likes the idea of better communication - ie., City, County and CHT. Quarterly seemed to be a good time interval.
Request the City Commission continue to pursue options that could lead to the City of Sarasota paying all City workers a living wage.
Servian: Has thought about the idea of paying all City employees a living wage. Have asked City HR department to look at a definition for "living wage". In this year's budget discussions City will begin the process to move toward this.
Other comments from Servian: Only two of our department managers live in Sarasota, can’t afford to live here. We do not have adequate staff - no one with housing expertise. She will attend a "Housing Summit" next week in New Mexico. Other cities will share what has worked.
Mercier’s comments: he doesn’t know why there would be opposition to the TIF/CRA ideas.
Atkins' comments: the City is priced out of downtown. We did not buy land back when we should have bought it. The idea of Asset ( Commissioner Atkins likes the word "access" instead of "asset") Based Community Development - ABCD - relies on community members giving of their time and talent to address community issues. "What can I do for the community?" as opposed for "what can the City do for me?". He also spoke strongly about the need for a living wage - if the community businesses (banks, hospitals, etc) don’t step up, how can the City possible build enough houses for them?
Dale White's article in todays SHT says "A coalition of 21 churches is becoming impatient with the city because it has yet to expand a redevelopment district into Newtown". This has been apparent as SURE has been working on the housing issue since 2000. As indicated above, the City has spent zero dollars on affordable dollars.
[I will publish more of the SURE information in subsequent posts]
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Nixing the School Ave. area was good. It leaves time to assess what is compatible with the nearby neighborhood and avoids the possibility of putting Down Town Core smack up against single family residential zoning.
Including the Park East, Rosemary and Central Cocoanut areas was probably OK since the surrounding neighborhoods were OK with it and the effect on infrastructure will probably be minimal.
But including the Bayfront and the rest of downtown in the density bonus without any concept of the consequences and costs to residents is wrong.
Commissioner Atkins has it right. We need to stop giving the downtown luxury condo developers bonuses and start working on housing for all of Sarasota - with an emphasis on those residents of our community that need it the most, those that make less than $35,000 or $17.50 per hour. This is where nearly every employer indicated their greatest need was.
The developers got what they wanted: the ability to build more units with no added cost - they are kept whole as the proposal was designed to keep their 20% expected profit margin. Meanwhile the community as a whole suffers; we pay for added infrastructure, we pay for road improvements that result from the inevitable traffic increase, we pay for added parking needs, we pay for needed upgrades to sewer systems and storm water mitigation. In short, we end up in the hole.
Whatever happened to the idea that those benefitting from development, pay for development? How did this suddenly change to "lets keep the developers whole and let the residents pay"? Aren't we paying enough already by keeping the TIF funds downtown, continuing to subsidize profitable developers by giving away public property and paying twice for parking?
The comments from Commissioners Servian (I voted for this in order to keep the community engaged) and Shelin ( I saw no suggestions from those opposed) were gratuitous at best and wrong at worst. Apparently it is politically correct to throw salt on wounds when you again cater to special interests.
The Herald Tribune's comments about this include: "While the Editorial Board supports the concept of using extra density to incentivize affordable housing, we believe that the strategy should be used only where it yields a fair return of work-force housing; where infrastructure can handle it; where it's convenient to jobs, schools and transportation; and where it respects the character of neighborhoods." These were among the many comments made by those citizens that suggested establishing a city wide strategy for increasing our attainable housing supply as opposed to the density bonus for most expensive part of downtown.
What was a serious and open discussion by citizens of our community ended up with a negative vote, the commissioners said no to those of us that offered suggestions, no to those that offered reasons to slow down, no to those that asked for better explanations about the effect of this change. A group of interested, committed and involved residents spent much time and effort trying to make this proposal better and the commissioners said NO.
Just a deeper hole.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Toll Brothers, a publicly-listed housing construction firm, is one of the largest in the United States, and it specializes in using its financial and political clout to profitably and legally address zoning problems.
During 2005 Toll reportedly earned a massive disclosed average profit of $92,000 per new home built.
"Dean Baker, a national housing expert, called Toll's per-home profit 'incredible' and an example of how the so-called housing bubble has fueled growth at home builders. The profitability likely propelled Toll Bros. to construct and sell as many of its high-priced luxury homes, some call them suburban mansions, as it could, he said.
But Toll Bros. is paying for the good times. New orders for its homes fell almost 30 percent in the quarter that ended Jan. 31 as the housing market cooled. The company's stock price has plunged 40 percent since early August, closing Thursday at $32.74.
...Toll Bros. used its pipeline of low-cost land to its advantage in 2005, too, he said. When it can, the company acquires land that is legally contested and then sues for the right to develop it.
'Not a lot of builders have the stomach to sit on the land, fight city hall, and fight the environmentalists,' East said. 'But it's what they believe they are good at.' "
Read the article. Enough said.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
My name is Jude Levy. I am a renter and I am a member of the tenant landlord coalition.
I do not think that the current density bonus plan is designed for affordable housing. I think it is designed for the developers. As the consultant said many times, it is about making the developer “whole.”
I would like to see this affordable housing conversation broadened to include the 50% of the City’s households who make less than $55,000 annually and to include the discussion of rentals for those households. In the main, this group cannot afford to buy in the current market. Though GoodHomes, Habitat and some other groups are providing home ownership for low and moderate income families, the numbers are small. There are currently 61,000 rentals in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. A few years ago over 40% of the living units in the city were rentals.
Who are low income renters? A wide range of folks – young and old, single and married, as well as families. They include newcomers deciding where to settle, students from New College and the Ringling School of Art, service workers, elders on fixed incomes as well as City staff and hospital employees – for so many this is the only housing option if they are to live here and contribute to this community.
In last week’s Herald Tribune business section, it was announced that a collection firm would be locating here. The jobs they will offer will be in the $25K to $30K range. Approximately 20% of our households in Sarasota make $30,000 or less. They are considered by the Community Housing definitions (HUD) as extremely low and very low income groups. It is for these two groups that housing is called “affordable.” Even income from $28K to $44,700 is considered low income.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition Report, to rent a 1 bedroom apartment in Sarasota one must make $27,400 and to afford a 2 bedroom, one would need to make almost $33,000. Or in other terms, one must make $13.21 an hour (working 40 hrs a week) to live in a one bedroom.
Will these new collection agency employees find an apartment in their affordable range, i.e. spending 30% of their income on housing?
Households making from 0 to $28,000 need apartments available in the $430 to $722 range.
I looked at this past Sunday’s classifieds in the Herald-Tribune. I only saw one apt for $550 and none for less than that. I counted all the apartments, condos, houses, rooms, duplexes available for rent in the $550 to $900 range. I only found 43 listings. For folks making $40, $50, $60K who can spend $1,000 to $2,000 in monthly rents, I stopped counting at 300 rental offerings.
I hope you will give some of your focus and incentives to the needs of low income renters and the landlords who provide real affordable housing for residents who live here year around.
(After thought: Consider how the developments of high end condos downtown have been given free land, TIF funds, overlay districts, zoning breaks so that now we have a seven year glut of luxury units downtown. This has been a boon to speculators and the wealthy buying second, third and fourth residences.)
I ask this of you in the service of keeping Sarasota diverse, vibrant and alive.
Sources: Herald Tribune, Community Housing in Sarasota County brochure dated November 2005, “Out of Reach” the December 2005 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition on Florida.
[Submitted e-mail from Jude Levy]
Monday, April 17, 2006
The initial plans got the neighborhood upset for a variety of reasons. Apparently the developer (Kalu Watanabe) listened. From the article:
Faced with the protests -- and the prospect that the city might reject a setback waiver request the developer needed to move forward -- Watanabe's Rand Hillview LLC went back to the drawing board.
The developers told architect James Soller, of Venice, to make numerous changes. Soller lengthened the distance of a proposed setback and slanted the Residences' three buildings on the site to make sight lines more pleasing.
He found a way to mask the trash Dumpsters, striking a balance between the city's need for access and residents' desire that they be invisible.
Soller's revamped drawings saved the massive [oak] tree, too.
Rand Hillview also pledged to install lighting and construct 8-foot-wide public sidewalks on Hyde Park, adding 3 feet of width. Its changes will also reduce storm-water runoff onto East Avenue by half.
When developers and neighborhoods listen and work together common ground can be found. When this happens everyone is happy.
A couple years ago Henry Rodriguez listened to the residents in Osprey and the result was community welcoming of a WalMart.
Residents that live in a community know their community. Developers that work with residents find that their proposals quite often are improved and are met with approval.
At this point the community is still divided over the downtown density bonus issue.
[Joe Moraca comments on this on his blog. The proposal is in Arlington Park, Joe's neighborhood.]
Sunday, April 16, 2006
The editorial in Sunday’s paper concerning the density bonus proposal was right on the money. Everyone in our community wants to have more affordable housing and everyone wants it yesterday. Yet many questions remain and the proposed comprehensive plan amendment does little to put us on the road to achieving this objective.
One requirement in the plan stands out. It requires that we develop a "comprehensive city wide attainable housing strategy that includes attainable housing supply, demand by neighborhood, regulatory review, public outreach and recommended policies for funding."
This is an excellent requirement in the proposed comp plan change. If we were to follow this, we would have community consensus on what elements would work for downtown and the nearby neighborhoods.
Putting the cart before the horse, in this case putting "solutions" in place before developing a strategy that the community buys into, just causes further division and mistrust. Particularly among those neighborhoods and residents that already have a good deal of skepticism.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Save Our Sarasota remains convinced that the implications of this proposal are not understood by the citizens and that unintended consequences are likely to accompany this. Issues of traffic, parking, infrastructure, etc. have not been addressed.
The following was provided by Kate Lowman as an accompanying part of the condensed version. While it may not be exactly word for word, it is very complete and has not been edited.
Shannon Snyder (Planning Board Chair)
CLOSE THE PUBLIC HEARING.
WE'LL HAVE THE CITY COME BACK DOWN.
Shawn Fulker (Planning Board Member)
(This first question refers to Doug James ‘(Planning Staff) earlier statement that overall density in the downtown area would not increase, but that instead density would be unevenly distributed across the downtown area.)
I DON'T WANT TO BE ACCUSED OF GETTING INTO THE MINUTIA, BUT WITH REGARD TO THE CONCEPT OF LIMITING A PARTICULAR AREA TO AN AVERAGE...IF HALF THE UNITS APPLY FOR A BONUS AND GET IT, ...DOES THAT MEAN THE OTHER HALF IS JUST EMPTY LAND? ...
Doug James (Planning Staff)
THE DENSITY AND THE MIX OF USES IN THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN IS SPECIFICALLY NOTED AS NOT BEING SITE SPECIFIC. SO WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS THAT ... THE 9,003 UNITS WOULD BE CALCULATED OVER THE ENTIRE ACREAGE AND NOT ON A SPECIFIC SITE. SO IF YOU AS A DEVELOPER WANTED TO DEVELOP ALL NONRESIDENTIAL ON A 10-ACRE SITE OR ALL RESIDENTIAL, YOU COULD DO THAT AS LONG AS THE OVERALL MIX THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE CLASS WAS NOT VIOLATED.
WHAT THAT MEANS THEN, IS AT A CERTAIN POINT IN TIME, IF ENOUGH PEOPLE APPLY FOR BONUSES, A PERSON HAS A EMPTY LOT, (HE) WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BUILD ON THAT. ...
THE MONITORING PROGRAM ... IS NOT ONLY TO ASSURE US THAT WE DON'T GO OVER THE MAXIMUM BUT IT'S ALSO TO ALERT US WHEN WE'RE REACHING A PERCENTAGE OF THAT MAXIMUM AND WE MIGHT WANT TO REVISIT THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AND PERHAPS LOWER IT ,OR INCREASE IT ,OR DO AWAY WITH IT IN TOTALITY. ... IT'S NOT THE INTENT OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN TO BE WRITTEN IN GRANITE AND NEVER BE CHANGED. ...
Michael Shelton (Planning Board Member)
... THE DETAILS THAT WE WERE TOLD NOT TO WORRY ABOUT, AM I CORRECT IN ASSUMING THAT WE'RE NOT PASSING JUDGMENT, SO TO SPEAK, ON THESE DETAILS? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A PLAN AMENDMENT AND THAT'S IT?
Michael Connolly (Planning Board Lawyer)
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A PLAN AMENDMENT THAT DOES A NUMBER OF THINGS. ... DO YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE DETAILS OF IT TODAY? NO. ... HOWEVER, YOU DO NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH THE OVERALL SCOPE OF THE PROGRAM, AND IF YOU THINK THAT THE RUDDER IS GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE THAT DECISION BECAUSE YOU ARE IN THAT LEGISLATIVE FUNCTION.
BASICALLY WHAT WE'RE BEING TOLD IS “TRUST US. AND WE'LL FIGURE OUT THE DETAILS LATER.” AM I KIND OF CORRECT IN THAT?
YES. BUT THERE ARE SOME OF THE DETAILS THAT ARE SPECIFIC. FOR EXAMPLE, I THINK ONE OF THE ACTION STRATEGIES WOULD BE A NEW DEFINITION FOR WHAT IS ATTAINABLE HOUSING. THAT'S A SPECIFIC THAT YOU DO NEED TO FOCUS ON TODAY. ANOTHER ... IS THE PARTICULAR AREAS THAT THERE WOULD BE A CHANGE IN THE LAND USE CLASSIFICATION.
Michael Shelton (to ERA consultant)(This question refers to the initial ERA report last August which recommended that the City of Sarasota develop a comprehensive affordable housing plan, of which this density program might, or might not ,be one element.)
... SEEMS LIKE I READ IN AUGUST THAT YOU RECOMMENDED AGAINST DOING THIS. AND NOW WHEN ASKED ... WHAT YOUR RECOMMENDATION IS NOW, IT IS, “YES, WE RECOMMEND YOU DO DO THIS.” WHEN I ASK WHY, “WELL, I WAS TOLD TO SAY THAT.” NOW, AM I INCORRECT SOMEWHERE IN THIS?ERA
Consultant (hired by the City of Sarasota)
THANKS FOR PUTTING ME ON THE SPOT THERE. BELIEVE ME, WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS AT THE FIRM. WE ALSO TALKED ABOUT THIS WITH CITY STAFF. ... THE INSTRUCTION CAME BACK FROM THE COMMISSION AND FROM THE CITY MANAGER, THE DESIRE IS TO CREATE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THIS AREA . ... TO START THAT PROCESS, ...THIS IS A FINE WAY TO BEGIN DOING IT. ... THERE WAS OBVIOUSLY A DESIRE ON THE PART OF THE COMMISSION AND CITY STAFF TO START IN THIS LOCATION. SO I'M NOT TRYING TO DODGE THE QUESTION. OUR ASSESSMENT ORIGINALLY WAS THIS IS PERHAPS NOT THE PLACE TO DO IT; HOWEVER, WE HAVE WORKED THROUGH THE, I THINK, SUFFICIENT DETAILS TO PUT YOU IN A POSITION TO ALLOW THIS PROCESS TO START.
...YOU ARE MAKING SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS HERE. TELL ME WHERE ELSE THESE SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS ARE BEING APPLIED.
I THINK THAT IS A FUNCTION OF THE SPECIFICS OF THE LOCALE.
THERE ISN'T ANOTHER PLACE THAT DOES IT JUST LIKE THIS?
WHAT TYPE OF INTERACTION DID YOU HAVE WITH THE ... COUNTY'S HOUSING TRUST AND WHAT TYPE OF INPUT DO THEY HAVE? AND HOW DO YOU SEE ALL THIS WORKING AS A REGIONAL SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS?
WE ACTUALLY MET WITH THE COUNTY REPRESENTATIVE ... ALONG WITH CITY STAFF ... AND ALSO CONVERSED WITH THEM SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE PROCESS. THERE IS A DESIRE, I THINK RIGHTLY SO, TO HAVE PARITY BETWEEN THE PROGRAMS. THE DIFFICULTY IS THE DENSITIES ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. ... THEY ARE PRIMARILY TARGETED AT SINGLE-FAMILY AND ... LOWER DENSITY MULTIFAMILY UNITS, WHEREAS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HIGH DENSITY MULTIFAMILY UNITS, PARTICULARLY CONDOMINIUMS, GIVEN THE CURRENT MARKET CONDITIONS.
...DID I HEAR YOU CORRECTLY WHEN YOU SAID ... THAT BASICALLY IT'S NOT ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE TO DEVELOP CONDOS NOW?
IF YOU WERE A DEVELOPER ENTERING THE MARKET COLD, TODAY, ... YOU WOULD NOT RATIONALLY CHOOSE TO ENTER THIS MARKET UNDER CURRENT CONDITIONS. NOW, IF YOU HAD A DEVELOPMENT PARTNER WHO IN SOME WAY WAS ALREADY VESTED, IT'S DIFFERENT.
...IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE A MAJOR COMPONENT OF THIS IS TO ENCOURAGE THE BUILDING OF NEW UNITS, ... AND I'M NOT SURE THAT THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE OUGHT TO BE DOING. ONLY 10% OF THE UNITS WILL MEET A SPECIFIC NEED. 90% OF THE UNITS ARE GOING TO MAKE A PROFIT FOR THE DEVELOPER. IF IT'S NOT ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE TO DO IT TO BEGIN WITH, WHY DO WE WANT TO CREATE A SYSTEM SO THAT THE DEVELOPERS CAN MAKE MONEY AND WE END UP WITH A VERY SMALL NUMBER OF UNITS THAT SATISFY NEEDS?
...WHILE AT THE END OF THE DAY THE DEVELOPERS ARE BUILDING MORE UNITS AND THEY ARE CERTAINLY MAKING HIGHER PROFIT MARGIN ON THOSE UNITS, AND THEIR TOTAL PROFIT WILL BE HIGHER, THAT IS BEING USED TO PAY FOR THE AFFORDABLE UNITS. SO YOU'RE, IN ESSENCE, RECAPTURING THAT MONEY. ...YOU'RE GETTING AFFORDABLE UNITS THAT YOU WOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN OTHERWISE.
WELL, OKAY. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE 10% NUMBER?
WE RAN THE NUMBERS TO SEE WHERE APPROXIMATELY PERHAPS THE POTENTIAL EXISTED FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THOSE ATTAINABLE UNITS AND THE BALANCING ENTICEMENT OF ADDITIONAL DENSITY.
SO IT TAKES 130 UNITS AT MARKET PRICE TO OFFSET THE REDUCTION IN PRICE FOR THE 20 UNITS THAT WE'LL GET? AND WHAT WAS THE AVERAGE SALES PRICE THAT YOU HAD FOR 130 UNITS?
IT DEPENDED UPON THE LOCATION WE WERE IN. I THINK IN THE DOWNTOWN EDGE AND I THINK IN THE CORE WE WERE AT 600,000 A UNIT. AND WE USED AN AVERAGE UNIT SIZE. ...1250 SQUARE FEET. ...
SO IF, FOR EXAMPLE, IN ITS INFINITE WISDOM, THE COMMISSION ULTIMATELY DECIDES IT WANTS 20% INSTEAD OF 10%, THEN IT WOULD BE YOUR CONCLUSION THAT (THIS) WOULD UNDERMINE THE ENTIRE PROGRAM...?
WELL, AGAIN, IT'S A VOLUNTARY PROGRAM.
Michael Shelton ...
WAS THERE ANY ANALYSIS OF THE HOUSING STOCK WITHIN THE CITY?
OTHER THAN THE EXISTENCE OF THE UNITS, NO, OF WHAT'S THERE AT THE MOMENT AS TOTAL COUNT.
AND NOBODY HAS DONE AN OVERALL, THOROUGH AND COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS AS TO WHAT OTHER OPTIONS WE MIGHT HAVE TO DO THIS, WHAT OTHER ASSETS WE MIGHT HAVE WITHIN THE CITY?
(AS) PART OF THE STUDY BACK IN AUGUST, WE RECOMMENDED A COMPREHENSIVE HOUSING STRATEGY ... BE DEVELOPED FOR THE CITY.
...Michael Shelton ...
WAS THAT DONE?
WE DIDN'T DO IT. WE WEREN'T TASKED WITH THAT.
BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THAT RECOMMENDATION?
WAS ONE EVER DONE?
NOT TO MY KNOWLEDGE.
WAS IT EVER DISCUSSED?
I DON'T KNOW THAT EITHER.
WHAT ABOUT RENTAL UNITS? ... WAS THERE ANY ANALYSIS OF OUR RENTAL SUPPLY OR RENTAL NEEDS? I'M HAVING A REAL TOUGH TIME ENVISIONING A FIVE-YEAR POLICEMAN WITH WIFE AND TWO KIDS MOVING INTO A BAYFRONT CONDO AND THINKING THAT WOULD BE ADEQUATE HOUSING FOR THEM. IT'S JUST NOT WORKING FOR ME. ... GRANTED, NOTHING WILL BE A SINGLE SOLUTION. BUT I JUST DON'T KNOW THAT WE ARE FULLY EXAMINING ALL THE OPTIONS AND LOOKING AT THE FULL GLOBAL PICTURE. ... I CAME FROM MARYLAND AND I KNOW YOU KNOW THAT VERY WELL. WOULD YOU AGREE THAT THEY HAVE PROBABLY A FIRST-CLASS HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION? THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING?
THEY HAVE A LARGE STAFF. WE CONSULTED WITH THEM IN THE COURSE OF THIS PROJECT.
I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT THEY AGREED WITH MUCH OF ANYTHING IN HERE. I WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED AND APPALLED IF THEY AGREED WITH MUCH OF ANYTHING IN THIS REPORT. THAT'S NOT BEING CRITICAL OF YOUR REPORT, THIS ISN'T THE WAY THEY DO IT THERE, IS IT?
WELL, THEY ARE ONE OF THE EARLIEST PROGRAMS IN THE UNITED STATES.
WOULD YOU SAY IT'S BEEN A RATHER -- VERY, VERY SUCCESSFUL?
THE POSTER CHILD, IF I MAY SAY, OF THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING WORLD.
AND I WOULD BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND MUCH OF ANYTHING IN THIS THAT CORRESPONDS TO THE WAY THEY DO IT THERE. I'M A FIRM BELIEVER IN NOT REINVENTING THE WHEEL. ... TRYING TO FORCE FAMILIES INTO HIGH-RISE CONDOS THAT HAVE DOORMEN AND ... EXPENSIVE AMENITIES AND NOT HAVE A REAL SOLUTION AS TO HOW TO PAY FOR THE CONDO FEES, I JUST DON'T SEE IT WORKING. ... I'M A BIG, BIG PROPONENT OF INCLUSIONARY ZONING. ... I DON'T THINK THIS IS WELL THOUGHT OUT.
...Jennifer Wilson (Planning Board Member)
WHEN MR. VENGROFF WAS DOWN HERE, (HE SAID) HE WANTS TO DO 1600 UNITS.
WELL, WE MET WITH HIM AS A PART OF THE PROCESS.
I LIVE IN PARK EAST. ... WHY WOULDN'T YOU GIVE HIM THE DENSITY HE NEEDS?
I CAN'T ANSWER THAT QUESTION. I DON'T KNOW.
HERE IS A GUY THAT WANTS TO DO A PROJECT THAT IS SOMETHING THAT'S WORTHWHILE. DOESN'T WANT ANY CITY MONEY. AND THEN WE PUT ANOTHER HAND BEHIND HIS BACK.
WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT, WE DO HAVE A PROCESS. PART OF IT IS MANDATED BY THE STATE. ... THE FIRST STEP IN THE PROCESS IS ... ALLOWING WHATEVER PARCEL HE OWNS TO BE RECLASSIFIED TO THE DOWNTOWN URBAN MIXED-USE CLASS. THE BEST YOU CAN GET OUT OF THAT AS WE SIT HERE IS 50 DWELLING UNITS AN ACRE.
LET'S GO OVER TO AREA FIVE. THANK GOD THE PLANNING GOD HAS PULLED OUT MY STREET, BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY PART OF PARK EAST THAT'S SINGLE-FAMILY WHERE YOU HAVE 12 HOMES, YOU HAVE 11 THAT ARE OWNER OCCUPIED. WHEN YOU GO OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE OF LIME ... AND WE REZONE THAT, WHAT HAVE WE NOW DONE TO THE ONLY DECENT PART OF PARK EAST IF WE PUT HIGH-RISES ALONG LIME AVENUE? DO YOU SEE WHAT WE'RE THINKING HERE?
ALL WE HAVE BROUGHT BEFORE YOU THIS EVENING IS A LAND USE CLASS IN TERM OF A MAP CHANGE.
BUT WE, THE PEOPLE, HAVE COLD FEET. ... THAT'S WHY WE HAD THIS CROWD OUT HERE TONIGHT. THEY ARE AFRAID OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IF THEY LOOK AWAY. THEY ARE AFRAID OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IF THEY QUIT BEING FOREVER VIGILANT. AS THE NEIGHBORHOOD DEPARTMENT TELLS PEOPLE, IT'S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT OUR NEIGHBORHOODS. ... I JUST DON'T KNOW WHY WE GO ALL THE WAY AROUND IT. WE ASK FOR INPUT--WE DON'T TAKE THE SUGGESTIONS THAT ARE GIVEN, AND THEN WE HAVE A SPACESHIP LAND IN THE MIDDLE OF PARK EAST WITHOUT ANY NEIGHBORS KNOWING WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO THEM. IT'S JUST NOT FAIR. THAT'S ALL I GOT.
CLOSE THE PUBLIC HEARING. IS THERE A MOTION? RECOMMEND --
[INAUDIBLE].(Motion by Robert Lindsay, seconded by Jennifer Wilson, to reject the comp plan amendments.)
MOTION HAS BEEN MOVED AND SECONDED.
Robert Lindsay (Planning Board Member)
...WE ... GET ONE ATTAINABLE UNIT FOR EVERY 10 EXPENSIVE ONES WE BUILD. THE PEOPLE THAT COME TO TOWN AND (CAN) AFFORD A 2 MILLION-DOLLAR CONDO ARE TYPICALLY GOING TO NEED PROBABLY A REVERSE RATIO, MORE LIKE TEN SUPPORT PEOPLE FOR EVERY ONE OF THEM. SO WE'RE NOT MAKING A SIGNIFICANT DENT IN THE PROBLEM IF WE BUILD A HUNDRED OF THESE -- A HUNDRED EXPENSIVE UNITS THAT ARE GOING TO REQUIRE A THOUSAND PEOPLE IN THE GENERAL POPULATION TO SUPPORT THEM. PLUMBERS, ELECTRICIANS, LAWYERS, LAW CLERKS, ALL THESE OTHER PEOPLE. SO IT'S NOT REALLY DOING A WHOLE LOT. THE OTHER THING IS THAT ... WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL DIRECTOR OF THIS PROGRAM. THAT PERSON IS GOING TO HAVE A SECRETARY, FLOOR SPACE, PROBABLY A CITY CAR. ... MORE COSTS LATER FOR ARCHIVING ALL THIS STUFF, ON AND ON. ... SO I THINK YOU CAN EASILY SEE ...THE COST OF THE PROGRAM WINDING UP ...IN THE CITY'S BUDGET, IF YOU TAKE IN ALL THE FACTORS OF FLOOR SPACE AND EVERYTHING ELSE, SOMETHING OVER A MILLION BUCKS A YEAR. WELL, AT A MILLION BUCKS A YEAR, THE LOW END OF OUR PROJECTED GAIN HERE IS 230 AFFORDABLE UNITS. WE CAN JUST ABOUT MEET THAT BY HAVING THE CITY WRITE A CHECK TO SARASOTA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOR $50,000 GRANTS TO DESERVING NURSES FOR THEIR HOUSING. SO, IT MAKES NO SENSE TO GO THROUGH THIS HUGE EFFORT HERE. WE CAN JUST SOLVE IT WITH SOME CASH AND NOT HAVE TO SIT HERE THROUGH ALL OF THIS. ...THE SOLUTION HERE IS VERY SIMPLE, REALLY. ... THE WHOLE CITY WAS BASED ON A DENSITY AND LOT SIZE BASE FORM OF REGULATION A WHILE AGO. WE CHANGED TO A FORM-BASED REGULATION WHEN WE WENT WITH DUANY'S PLAN WHERE WE REGULATE THE PHYSICAL CONFIGURATION OF THE OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING. I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD REALLY CARE WHETHER THE DEVELOPER BUILDS 800-SQUARE-FOOT UNITS OR 8,000-SQUARE-FOOT UNITS. RIGHT NOW, THEY HAVE NO INCENTIVE TO BUILD SMALLER. ... IF YOU ELIMINATE THE REFERENCES TO DENSITY, THEN A DEVELOPER, ... HAS THE OPTION TO BUILD THE SIZE OR MIX OF SIZES THAT HE THINKS WILL SELL AND BE THE MOST PROFITABLE. AND MAYBE WE'LL GET SOME 800-FOOT STUDIO APARTMENTS FOR THE SINGLE ...YOUNG PROFESSIONAL. AND SOME 1200-FOOT APARTMENTS FOR A RETIRED COUPLE.... ... THE SIMPLE THING (IS) WE GO IN THERE AND ELIMINATE REFERENCES TO DENSITY IN THE DOWNTOWN CORE AND DOWNTOWN BAYFRONT. AND THAT PRETTY WELL WILL PROBABLY CURE THE PROBLEM AT LEAST IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA WITHIN THE NEXT FEW YEARS WITHOUT THE CITY SPENDING A LOT OF MONEY AND PUTTING ALL THE NEIGHBORHOODS AND EVERYBODY ELSE THROUGH ALL THIS PAIN.
... Jennifer Wilson
I THINK MR. LINDSAY SAYS IT, WE'RE JUST NOT GETTING ENOUGH BANG FOR THE BUCK HERE.
... Shawn Fulker
...THE THING IS, THEY ARE TRYING TO PUT THE AFFORDABLE STUFF IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE LAND. ... THAT'S WHY THE NUMBERS AREN'T WORKING OUT, BECAUSE THE DIRT IS SO EXPENSIVE, DOESN'T MATTER HOW MANY UNITS YOU GIVE THEM, IT'S ALMOST NOT -- IT ALMOST NEVER WOULD BE WORTH DOING. ... THE MODEL, I THINK, NEEDS TO BE REEXAMINED. I HATE SAYING THAT BECAUSE I REALLY THINK WE NEED SOME DENSITY INCREASES. ... SO WE'RE GOING TO SEE WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TWO, THREE YEARS DOWN THE ROAD, IF THERE REALLY IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM. ... FOR YEARS, YOU HEAR ABOUT PEOPLE DRIVING FROM NORTH PORT AND ... ST. PETE ...TO COME HERE, AND EVEN DEPARTMENT HEADS OF THE CITY, OR AT LEAST ONE, DRIVES THAT FAR BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE IN THE CITY, SUPPOSEDLY. BUT YET THERE ARE ALL THESE HOUSES FOR SALE. I WISH THERE WAS AN INVENTORY DONE, FRANKLY, AND OUTSIDE OF (INCLUDING?) THE COUNTY. WE'RE BEARING THE BURDEN OF TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO FIT ALL THIS AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN A CITY THAT'S FIVE MILES BY SEVEN MILES OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. MOST OF THAT IS BEACH FRONT OR WATERFRONT, REALLY NOT EVEN IN PLAY. I DON'T SEE HOW YOU CAN DO THIS WITHOUT LOOKING INTO THE COUNTY. ... I DON'T THINK WE'LL MIND DRIVING A FEW MILES DOWN FRUITVILLE. IT SEEMS TO ME TO BE THE PERFECT SPOT. ... AS MUCH AS I WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO SAY, HEY, LET'S APPROVE THIS THING AND JUST SEE IF IT WORKS, I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN. I HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING THAT REALLY CONVINCED ME OF THAT.
AS MUCH AS I HATE TO SAY IT, I CAN'T SUPPORT THIS. AND I'VE TRIED AND TRIED TO THINK OF A REASON WHY I CAN DO THIS AND HOW I CAN MAKE IT WORK, BUT I CAN'T. AND TO BE HONEST..., THE TWO PEOPLE THAT I THOUGHT ... MIGHT SUPPORT THIS, THEY DON'T EVEN SUPPORT IT, WHICH MAKES ME EVEN MORE NERVOUS. ... I DON'T THINK THAT IT REALLY GOES NEARLY FAR ENOUGH TO SOLVE ...WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH HERE. I'M REALLY, REALLY NERVOUS ABOUT KNOWING WHAT THE REAL END PRODUCT IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE. IF I WERE TO SUPPORT THIS, (I’VE) GOT A REAL FEAR THAT WHAT I'LL END UP WITH IS THIS ABILITY TO HAVE A MUCH, MUCH HIGHER LEVEL OF DENSITY WITH A PROGRAM THAT I'M COMPLETELY OPPOSED TO. ...I CAN GO DOWN THE LIST HERE AND CHECK OFF THE THINGS THAT I DON'T LIKE ABOUT THE PROPOSAL. I DON'T THINK IT GOES NEARLY FAR ENOUGH. I'M ALSO BEING TOLD THAT IT'S JUST NOT ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE TO RAISE THE PERCENTAGE OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS THAT CAN COME OUT OF THE PROGRAM, AND 10% IS NOT ENOUGH OF A RETURN ON THE INVESTMENT THAT WE'RE BEING ASKED TO MAKE. JENNIFER SAID THERE WASN'T ENOUGH BANG FOR THE BUCK, AND (THAT) PROBABLY REDUCES IT TO THE BOTTOM LINE FOR ME. ... THIS IS A REGIONAL PROBLEM. ... IT'S NOT OUR PROBLEM ALONE, SO I DON'T KNOW WHY WE NEED TO THINK THAT WE'RE GOING TO SOLVE IT WITHIN OUR BOUNDARIES BY OURSELVES. THIS ... NEEDS TO BE TAKEN ON BY THE COUNTY, THE CITIES. ... WE ALL HAVE TO GET TOGETHER AND LOOK AT IT AS A REGIONAL ISSUE, AND I DON'T SEE ANY EVIDENCE OF THAT BEING DONE. IN FACT, THERE WAS A RECOMMENDATION THAT THAT BE DONE. AND FOR SOME REASON, IT WASN'T DONE. I REAFFIRM MY SUPPORT FOR THIS CONCEPT. I JUST DON'T SEE THIS PLAN AS BEING THE ONE THAT DOES IT, AND I CAN'T SUPPORT IT.
MAY I ADD ONE QUICK PIECE? I WAS LOOKING DOWN AT MY NOTE, ONE DANGEROUS THING HERE, TOO, IF YOU APPROVE THIS DENSITY THING -- AND I CAN SPEAK TO THIS FIRST HAND -- THE PROPERTY VALUES ARE GOING TO GO UP BECAUSE YOU CAN BUILD MORE UNITS. THEN WHEN THE PERSON GOES IN TO DEVELOP IT, THEY SPEND MORE MONEY ON THE LAND AND THEN IT MAKES THE PROJECT NOT FEASIBLE TO BUILD THEM AT A CHEAPER PRICE. YOU HAVE TO BE REAL CAREFUL ON HOW YOU DO THIS DENSITY THING.
I'M GOING TO SUPPORT THE MOTION FOR DENIAL. THIS IS A TROJAN HORSE. JOHN SUSCE WAS RIGHT WHEN HE CALLED IT THAT. THE ATTAINABLE HOUSING ISSUE IS SEPARATE FROM THIS PLAN RIGHT HERE. IF THIS IS APPROVED, WHAT THIS WILL DO IN FIVE YEARS IS WHAT THE LEVEES DID IN FIVE HOURS TO NEW ORLEANS. NO IFs, ANDs AND BUTS. IT WILL BASICALLY TELL ANYBODY THAT IS MAKING LESS THAN $100,000 A YEAR -- THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON YOU AND YOU BETTER GO DOWN TO U-HAUL AND GET SOME BOXES. ... TRYING TO PUT ATTAINABLE HOUSING IN DOWNTOWN IS LIKE TALKING ABOUT PUTTING ATTAINABLE HOUSING OUT ON ST. ARMANDS. IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. I MEAN, ARE THERE OPPORTUNITIES ONCE IN A WHILE? SURE. I'M SURE MR. VENGROFF HAS A GOOD SHOT AT DOING SOMETHING WITH HIS PROPERTY. BUT THAT IS A DEDICATED INDIVIDUAL DEDICATED TO A PROJECT. HE'S A SPECIAL INDIVIDUAL. THIS WHOLE PROCESS -- AND -- I MEAN, COULD I RIP THE REPORT APART, BUT I REALLY CAN'T FAULT THE CONSULTANT. (HE) TOLD (THEM) BACK IN OCTOBER IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK. ... AS FAR AS FAST TRACKING, I'M CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, I HEARD ABOUT IT AFTER OUR EAR PROCESS. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HEARD ABOUT IT. YEAH, IT'S BEING FAST TRACKED. I DON'T CARE WHAT SPIN ANYBODY IS TRYING TO PUT ON, IT'S BEING FAST TRACKED. IT'S NOT RIGHT TO DO TO THESE NEIGHBORHOODS. BASICALLY, ...ANYTHING WITHIN A TWO-MILE RADIUS OF DOWNTOWN WOULD BE OVERRUN WITH SPECULATORS OVERNIGHT IF THIS IS APPROVED AND BASICALLY -- I MEAN, WE ALREADY HAVE AN ECONOMIC REALITY IN THIS COMMUNITY THAT ALL OF US AGREE ON, THAT IT IS BECOMING MORE EXPENSIVE. I CAN'T BE A PARTY TO SHOVING MY NEIGHBORS OUT OF TOWN. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE PEOPLE I GREW UP WITH. I LIVE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD I GREW UP IN. I ACTUALLY LIVE ON THE STREET I GREW UP ON. I PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY CANNOT SHOVE MY NEIGHBORS AND MY FRIENDS OUT OF HERE JUST BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO MAKE A COUPLE OF DOLLARS. ... THEN I'LL TALK ABOUT THE ATTAINABLE HOUSING. TWO PIECES OF PROPERTY IF ANYBODY WANTS TO LOOK AT THEM, TUTTLE AVENUE AND MYRTLE, NORTH SIDE AND SOUTH SIDE, THERE'S PLENTY OF PROPERTY. LITTLE EXTRA DENSITY, YOU'RE TALKING OVER A THOUSAND UNITS. GO TO THE END OF 17th STREET, HANG A LEFT, NORTH ON HONORE AVENUE, NORTH ON METRO PARK, COUNTY OWNS MORE THAN A MILE OF LAKEFRONT PROPERTY YOU COULD PUT 2,000 UNITS OF ATTAINABLE HOUSING RIGHT THERE. THIS COULD BE OCCUPIED IN TWO YEARS IF THERE WAS A POLITICAL WILL TO DO IT. THERE'S SEWER, WATER, ELECTRIC TO ALL THE PROPERTY, LARGE ENOUGH TO SUPPORT ALL OF IT. THIS IS A REGIONAL PROBLEM. THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE SOLVED INSIDE THE CITY, AND WE NEED TO STEP BACK AND SAY, LISTEN, ANYTHING WITHIN A NINE MILE RADIUS OF FIVE POINTS WE NEED TO BE LOOKING AT FOR ATTAINABLE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR OUR EMPLOYEES AND THE REST OF THE COMMUNITY. AND I JUST -- I THINK -- ILL-PLACED AND A COLOSSAL WASTE OF MONEY THIS WHOLE THING.
CALL THE VOTE. (a yes vote is to support the motion for denial, rejecting the density bonus program.)
Shawn Fulker: YES.
Michael Shelton: YES.
Robert Lindsay: YES.
Jennifer Wilson: YES.
Shannon Snyder: YES.
As you know, the City is considering giving developers a double or quadruple density bonus in exchange for 10% affordable housing units in the downtown area. This would not apply inside Laurel Park, but would affect most of the areas around us.
Many aspects of the plan are still vague, but the comprehensive plan change that would allow this density increase is moving ahead.
The Planning Board voted against it 5-0, along with many comments about what a bad program it would be. The Laurel Park Neighborhood Association Board also voted against the proposal, as has the coalition of city neighborhoods (CCNA).
Our concern is that the plan is incomplete and unclear, does not appear to clearly address affordable housing concerns, and could have major negative impacts on downtown neighborhoods, including our own. We support the pursuit of affordable housing, but do not see that this program, as currently defined, is a reasonable way to achieve it.
Proponents of this plan are pushing very hard for its approval and are promoting a heavy turnout at the City Commission meeting this coming Monday (where the final Commission vote will take place). I would encourage you to attend, as I expect it to be a fascinating evening which could greatly affect the density of the downtown areas around us.
Sincerely, Kate Lowman
Save Our Sarasota agrees with Kate's comments on this proposal. We believe the proposal has been pushed forward too fast and is clearly not understood by most of the community. The proposal was introduced on Feb 14 at at a workshop attended by a dozen or so neighborhood residents and more than 75 developer and development related business interests.
Other than the initial workshop, city commissioners and staff have made no effort to clarify what the implications of this proposal are. As Kate indicated, the Planning Board, after studying the proposal and hearing testimony, voted unanimously to reject the plan.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Riverview High School is an important part of Sarasota’s built history and a significant part of the Architectural Legacy of America. It is significant as it is the first public building in Florida by the undisputed leading architect of the Sarasota School of Architecture, Paul Rudolph. It was built in 1958.
However the Sarasota School Board plans to tear down this structure as part of the plan to redesign and rebuild the Riverview Campus.
A consultant's report from September of 2004 describes an approach that could work for the proposed replacement. The consultant, Stuart Barger, indicates the School Board should "Plan on replacing all existing buildings on campus over time, with the exception of the original Rudolph buildings, which should be rehabilitated."
Recently a group of Sarasota architects and preservationists met to see what could be done to save the Rudolph buildings at Riverview - at least save the main building.
A recent SHT article about the proposed Riverview School plan quoted Timothy Rohan, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Rudolph during his Ph.D. work at Harvard University:
In 1995, the county's historic resources departmentcontracted with a preservation expert to conduct a Sarasota school of architecture survey, and about 300 buildings were identified. Of those included in the survey, 13 were identified as by Rudolph.
Since that survey, two of Rudolph's houses have been torn
"I think that what's happening now, they're really going to regret 20 years down the line," said Rohan. "Everybody really regretted the demolition of Penn Station, and 20 years from now you're really going to regret all of this because you're not leaving any kind of built legacy."
April 20, 2006
6:30 p.m. Arrival & Registration
7:00 Public Action Starts
St. Martha Catholic Church
200 N. Orange Avenue, Sarasota
Affordable Housing: Next Steps
Sarasota continues to experience shortages of affordable or workforce housing—it does not matter whatever name is used—there is a shortage of housing for rental or purchase.
We understand that providing increased housing for low– to moderate-income persons living in Sarasota County is a complex problem, and that some gains are being made. Despite these gains, we believe immediate steps need to be taken to insure a successful affordable housing program.
At the Public Action, we will offer recommendations to the City, County, and the newly hired director of the land trust to fund Sarasota housing needs using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money and to insure financial strength and longevity of the Trust.
Come and hear the issues and recommendations that we will make to your elected officials and decision-makers. Let us all continue to work to insure that justice and equity prevails for EVERYONE in Sarasota.
[SURE is a faith based organization composed of more than 20 churches. Current issues of importance to this group are affordable housing and early education. At this "rally" SURE will present their suggestions for increasing the supply of affordable housing in Sarasota. This is open to the public.]
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
NANTUCKET, Mass. - Nantucket joined several other historic tourist towns across the country in approving a measure that would ban chain stores from the island's downtown, a move endorsed by more than 480 residents at a town meeting.
The rule would bar any new chains with more than 14 outlets that have standardized menus, trademarks, uniforms or other homogeneous decor from opening downtown. The ban would not affect gas stations, grocery stores, banks and other service providers.
"I'm extremely gratified," said independent book seller Wendy Hudson, who proposed the ban. "I guess it feels validating ... people saw the balance and need to protect our character rather than this amendment just being another new regulation."
The measure passed by a unanimous voice vote Tuesday night, but still needs to be approved by the state Attorney General's office.
Other historic tourist towns have passed similar measures, including Bristol, R.I.; Ogunquit, Maine; and Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. The driving motive for the bans is to preserve a quaint, small town atmosphere.
Last year, clothier Ralph Lauren paid $6.5 million for a building on Nantucket's Main Street and hung his trademark polo sign outside an upscale boutique. The proposed ban would not affect that store.
Other chains have tried the Nantucket market and closed after a few years, including Crabtree & Evelyn and Talbots. The offseason — when the island's population shrinks to 10,000 from 50,000 in August — is hard for many businesses.
[From YAHOO! News, 4/6/06]
The Sarasota City Manager's Blog currently has a discussion concerning this issue, he asks:
Can local independents generate the foot traffic critical to retailers? Would national retailers take a chance on a center anchored by unknown (to them) independents? Don't we want those nationals that are so popular other places - aren't they popular for a reason? What do you think?
Maybe the question is whether have we gone so far with development that we can no longer be unique? Have we crossed over to the chain side? Why have we given our tax dollars and public property to support the chain restaurants at the expense of our local, unique restaurants?
Monday, April 10, 2006
Haven’t we got this backwards? We are proposing a solution and we have not yet defined basic parameters and basic needs. While we all know affordable housing is the major concern for our community but our needs still need clarification. For example:
- What is our current affordable housing stock? How many units exist and where are they?
- How much do we need (City and County)? Do we know how much affordable housing we need, such as rental units as well as ownership units?
- Where should it be located? Where in the city makes the most sense? Should affordable units be clustered? How far from downtown is OK? How close to public transportation should we target?
- When we have defined these we will be in a much better position to determine solutions.
The YPG is interested in getting affordable housing built in the downtown area a soon as possible. They see the current proposal as a way to achieve that objective.
The DTP indicated that they still liked their previous proposal (A-ROD) better but decided that the ERA proposal had a better chance of passing, thus they support the current proposal
Alta Vista recently had a traffic survey on Wood St - in a 2 day time period, 10,000 cars traveled Wood St. Is this the area to put 200 units per acre (the 9 acre site on the east side of Payne Park)?
The Community Housing Trust is ready to build 42 single family homes on Wood St ranging from low $100's to $175,000. This is happening now, an excellent example of what we can do.
Park East indicates that the area near Fruitville and Lime is good for increased density - the Vengroff area. Why not push on this to see if a reasonable project can happen there?
Five years ago, residents participated in the downtown master plan process. Part of this was the urban transect plan. Another part was the Burns Court area being Downtown Edge. What happened? Downtown Core has suddenly spread everywhere. We have lost faith in our commissioners and their ability to make an agreed upon plan happen. We are now talking about more areas of Downtown Core abutting single family residential where it is not wanted.
What are the environmental implications of this proposal? What are the traffic implications?
The neighborhoods along the North Trail have indicated many times during the recent "Innovation41 Process" (a.k.a. University District) that affordable housing and transportation needs to be part of this (the Innovation 41 plan) plan. So far this has been ignored - where is the trust.
"Density is an essential part of affordable housing" vs "Increased density has not yielded any affordable housing in Sarasota so far" vs "developers always want increased density, it makes the land more valuable".
Alta Vista was never part of the Downtown Master Plan discussions. Now they are facing amendments that will result in their neighborhood abutting the most intensive segment of downtown - Downtown Core. When and where does downtown stop? How much further east will it march?
CCNA has been discussing a town hall meeting for residents to have input into possible solutions for the affordable housing issue.
The lack of affordable rental options was also discussed. Potential solutions include preserving current rentals through the use of creative ways to reduce the rising taxes and insurence rates that landlords face. Create "bonuses" for landlords that keep affordable rentals.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
That amendment would enable developers in Sarasota’s downtown core and bayfront and in certain downtown edge neighborhoods to build projects at four times allowable density if ten percent of the units are affordable to buyers with annual incomes of $55,000-$67,000. In downtown and bayfront areas, this amendment would increase density from 50 to 200 units per acre.
The group included executives and board members of the CCNA (Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations), the Downtown Partnership, the Chamber’s Young Professionals Group, SOS (Save Our Sarasota), and the Tenant-Landlord Coalition.
Among concerns discussed were the speed with which such a far-reaching amendment has been crafted and processed, the small total number of affordable units that consultants projected would be generated, the impact on infrastructure, and the lack of an overall city affordable housing policy addressing all tiers of need for affordable and work force housing rather than just higher end affordable housing needs and the general lack of agreement concerning this proposal.
After a spirited discussion, a compromise solution was offered for consideration by CCNA and SOS representatives---that the downtown, bayfront and Alta Vista be excluded from the amendment but that portions of the Park East, Rosemary, and Central Cocoanut districts where neighborhoods have asked for increased density for affordable housing be used as pilot projects to test the 4x density solution. Each participating organization will have its board of directors consider this proposed compromise with the hope of appearing at the commission hearing with a unified position on the amendment.
Representatives were in agreement that affordable housing is a most crucial city need and problem and that their discussion had been very productive and a constructive first step toward an inclusive public consideration of city-wide affordable housing initiatives.
All of the representatives indicated they would be opposed to any "in lieu of" payment by developers, indicating that the intent of the proposal is to get affordable housing units built.
This was a unique gathering of these stakeholders in an attempt at coming together to bring a constructive solution, as a first step, to this issue.
Representatives included Susan Chapman, Andrew Foley, Dick Clapp, Linda Holland, Kelly Kirshner, Janice Green, Jude Levy, Joe Moraca, Carol Reynolds, Dick Sheldon, Gretchen Serrie, Tony Souza, John Susce and Stan Zimmerman.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Save Our Sarasota has agreed with CCNA that the timing of this fast track proposal is much to fast to allow understanding of the implications. Implications for traffic, implications for infrastructure, implications for actual attainable housing developed in a reasonable time frame.
One part of this proposal indicates that the attainable housing actually has to be built - by the developer getting the bonus and in the project he is developing. The developer and real estate agent community have been pushing for an "in lieu of" option instead of actually building the units. They indicate it would be too difficult to sell the luxury units if the buyers knew that attainable units were in the same building. Apparently they would rather give the city cash and have the city go through the process of finding suitable land at a suitable price and negotiate construction of the attainable units. They would get to walk away by only paying a fee.
This approach would delay further any attainable housing that might come from this proposal. The idea of fast tracking was to get attainable housing. If we allow developers to get the valuable density increase and then side step actually supplying attainable housing, what has been gained.
Save Our Sarasota would like to see the current proposal discussed, understood and accepted by the community before it is put into our comprehensive plan. It is evident that the community does not understand the implications let alone support the plan at the current time.
We strongly urge the commissioners to pull this proposal from the current comp plan amendment plan cycle.
The caption for this photo reads:
Houston, TX, has come to represent the automobile-oriented city in its purest form. With a vast growth in area and a steady increase in automobile community to ever-higher office buildings (95% of Houstonians depend on cars for all their transportation), up to 70% of the central business district is taken up by roadways and parking. The lots also form a holding pattern for properties awaiting development.
A scary view of a fast growth urban area.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Their produce attracts many shoppers for good reason - it is excellent, fresh, priced fairly, locally produced and available.
Organic foods have been in the news recently - articles about the increasing demand for organic foods putting pressure on the sellers to find adequate supply. Even Wal-Mart is looking at organic foods.
Our downtown grocery store, Whole Foods, has also been in the news. In a recent Slate article, it was noted:
This is semantic sleight of hand. As one small family farmer in Connecticut told me recently, "Almost all the organic food in this country comes out of California. And five or six big California farms dominate the whole industry." There's a widespread misperception in this country—one that organic growers, no matter how giant, happily encourage—that "organic" means "small family farmer."
That hasn't been the case for years, certainly not since 1990, when the Department of Agriculture drew up its official guidelines for organic food. Whole Foods knows this well, and so the line about the "small family farmers that make up a large percentage of organic food producers" is sneaky. There are a lot of small, family-run organic farmers, but their share of the organic crop in this country, and of the produce sold at Whole Foods, is minuscule.
A recent Consumer Reports (Feb 2006) article about organic foods describes the "dirty dozen" of fruits and vegetables - those that consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue compared to others, even after being washed. The FDA says you should always buy these fruits and vegetables as organic because their conventionally grown counterparts "tend to be laden with pesticides."
The "dirty dozen" includes: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries.
On the other hand, unless price is no object, the following rarely have pesticide residuals when grown conventionally: asparagus, avocados, bananas, brocolli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, onions, papaya, pineapples and sweet peas.
A few other items are listed on both lists. Check the article if interested.
In the meantime, support the farmers at the Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market!
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Sarasota Condo Tower Design Not 'Classical'
Joan Altabe - Bradenton Herald
It's time to call a spade a shovel.
The Grande Sarasotan, an 18-story condominium tower planned as the Ritz-Carlton's new neighbor at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, is being heralded as classical architecture. And it shouldn't be. There's little "classical" about it.
Bad enough when Realtors get style wrong, but an architect? Larry Cohan of BC Architects of Coral Gables told the press that his design yields to the town's "preference for a classical building." I've looked and looked at his proposal and all I see is a wall of windows set in a rectangle laid on its long side, like a beached whale. What's classical about that?
Unless you count the teeny pastiche on the roof - a peaked structure that looks like a Tiki hut. And depending on which Web site you see the elevation on, there are either one or three of these. To give you an idea of what the diminutive structure looks like atop the big one, imagine Goliath wearing one of those little paper party hats and you get the out-of-whack picture. Classical architecture celebrates balance, not disproportion.
Her column concerning the "Memory Path" art work in Five Points Park is also well worth reading.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Sarasota County’s NEST (Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team) approach helped with mapping locations of stormwater drains, provided identification signs and materials to attach the signs.
It is hoped that these signs will raise awareness that anything that goes into these drains will go directly to Hudson Bayou or Sarasota Bay. Pollutants and trash need to be kept away form these drains to protect the health of our waterways.
The pictures show Susan Chapman and the County NEST coordinator helping make area assignments; Joe Moraca getting some signs for his neighborhood; a Hudson Bayou neighbor fixing the sign to the storm drain, and finally the finished sign in place.
We hope other neighborhoods follow the example set by our Hudson Bayou neighbors.
Monday, April 03, 2006
There are comments in the article that we should be considering in our town while we still have places downtown where fresh air and sunlight reach the street level:
Access to sunlight and fresh air is increasingly being considered in urban planning and building design. It is not yet part of Philadelphia's zoning code, said Thomas Chapman, acting executive director of the city Planning Commission.
Some architects, however, say the wrong question is being asked.
"The question is the project itself," said William P. Becker, a Center City architect and chairman of the Design Advocacy Group, a group of architects, planners and citizens that encourages excellence in building design and construction.
"If you live in a city, sometimes your property may get cast into shadow, and I don't mean to trivialize that," Becker said. "I think what people are really reacting to is the fact of this building's absolute height... . It's a shocking change from what has been in that area."
Becker said Design Advocacy Group is preparing recommended changes for the way the city evaluates and approves construction projects.
The group's vice chairman, architect Alan Greenberger, said it wants to encourage more public input on major projects rather than Philadelphia's system that gives developers an "absolute right" to build as long as they comply with zoning codes.
One reason for the anger about the Barnes Tower is that the public learned of it only when demolition notices were posted on the hotel late last month.
Because the tower proposal already meets zoning requirements, a zoning hearing was not needed.
Greenberger noted that, in Boston, any project bigger than a certain size must be reviewed by a civic design commission.
Even though the commission cannot veto a project, Greenberger said, "there is a thorough public review of all the project's merits and demerits... . It's a very interesting system that lets the public get involved."
Here in Sarasota we have been doing the opposite; we have been moving toward making it simpler and easier for the developers to propose and build any building with little opportunity for public input and comment.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Save Our Sarasota has indicated in the past, and we continue to advocate, that some level of affordable housing should be included in this project.
While the land may be considered expensive, recent history has shown that the commissioners have been more than willing to bend over backwards to accomplish an objective - consider the recent gift of the $11,000,000 parking lot on State St to get 30+ retail shops.
Since affordable/attainable housing continues to be high on the city's "must do" list of objectives, what would keep us from using a significant portion of the Palm Ave. site to help achieve affordable housing goals?
Concerning parking, we question whether 400 parking places is the best number for this spot. We realize that that the city parking consultant indicated that the net result of the Pineapple Square project will be to increase the demand for parking by a little more than 100 spaces - even after all the 1000+ new parking spaces are functional, the reason being that the added retail activity and work force will create the need for 1100+ parking spaces. Given that we have created a shortfall, we obviously need more spaces.
The real question is where should these spaces be located. We believe that smaller lots, located at more places spread around downtown is a better solution. This would allow more people to park closer to their intended destination as well as spread traffic over more streets. Having 500+ public parking spaces at Pineapple Square and another 400 at Palm Ave., just 2-3 blocks away is a very high concentration in this part of downtown. This is especially true when considering the public parking at Whole Foods. This will draw even more cars to this small section of downtown creating more car/pedestrian interaction potential.
Other areas of downtown need public parking. The Burns Square area needs some level of added public parking, upper Main needs public parking at several places.
Reducing parking at Palm (maybe to 200 spaces) would also leave more room for affordable housing. Creating a lively downtown requires having people live there year round. Affordable housing, sold to people intending to live there will help achieve the goal of a lively downtown.
We hope the commissioners take these factors into consideration as they choose among the alternatives.