Saturday, December 22, 2007

County Super Majority Requirement Results in Denial of Comp Plan Change

At the Dec 19 County Commission meeting a Comprehensive Plan Amendment was denied because a super majority approval vote was not achieved. Even though three commissioner approved the proposal, but the super majority requirement required four commissioners to approve. This was not achieved.

An interesting "sidebar" is that apparently none of the commissioners was aware of the super majority requirement until after the Board Chair announced the proposal was approved, the applicant was leaving the chambers and then the county attorney indicated that this action required a super majority.

The video of the meeting can be found here. The item is number 10 on the agenda. the video segment is about 6 minutes long.

Friday, December 21, 2007

City Commission Workshop - Sustainability

City Commission
Workshop on Sustainability

January 4th from 2—4 p.m.

City Commission chambers

Join us as we welcome Alderman Mary Ann Smith from the 48th Ward of Chicago to discuss sustainability issues and solutions. Known for her concern for the environment, particularly Chicago's lakefront, Mary Ann represents the City of Chicago on the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives. Formerly she served as vice chair of the City Council Subcommittee on the Chicago Lakefront, as a vice-chair of the Lake Michigan Federation (now the Alliance for the Great Lakes), and a founding member of PCB's Gone. Her leadership on environmental issues earned a United Nations Environment Programme Award for Citizen Action to Protect the Global Environment and a fellowship to study urban planning in several European cities from the U.S./German Marshall.

After the Alderman’s presentation we will hear from local sustainability pioneers and experts in the field of environmental science and policy.

Michael Carlson - experience includes institutional and public sector projects such as local government facilities, public service facilities and educational facilities. As a licensed architect in the state of Florida since 1989, Michael has completed successful projects throughout Sarasota County and the Gulf Coast region. His continuing education is focused on Green Building, and he is one of the first Architects in the state of Florida to achieve the LEED Accredited Professional designation.

Albert Joerger - launched the Sarasota Conservation Foundation in 2003 as a result of his extensive expertise in intelligent conservation and his passion for the Gulf Coast. Mr. Joerger holds a BS in Economics, an MLA in Landscape Architecture and a Environmental Information Science, all from Cornell University. His broad experience includes market research, coastal land use and development, planning for sustainable tourism, environmental consulting on water resources, as well as fundraising and land acquisition for The Nature Conservancy.

Melissa Meehan - Southeast Coastal Organizer for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes responsible energy choices that solve global warming problems and ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.

Speakers Bureau Member from FGBC - The Florida Green Building Coalition is a nonprofit Florida Corporation dedicated to improving the built environment. Our mission is "to provide a statewide Green Building program with environmental and economic benefits." Sarasota recently joined the FGBC Local Green Government Designation initiative.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CALL Michele Mician, Environmental Coordinator at 941-954-2670. Also visit

City Workshop - Green Policy

You are Invited to a

Downtown Green Space

Public Workshop

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Payne Park Auditorium

Your questions and comments are encouraged


The City Commission, at its meeting on October 15, 2007, directed staff to develop a green space plan through a process that includes significant public input reflecting the Downtown as a space for the entire community to convene and include a vision for the Downtown parks and streetscapes.

Workshop Outline

  • Process

  • Direction and Scope

  • Plans, Codes and Existing Inventory

  • Managing the Urban Forest

  • Green” Paving

  • Financial Sustainability

  • Public Questions and Comments

Further Information

Contact John Burg with the Department of Planning and Redevelopment at 954-4195 extension 4214 or e-mail at:

Thursday, December 20, 2007


An article in Newsweek describes some of the pressures faced by city and county planners here in Sarasota and elsewhere.

Urban Planner: A Day in the Life
By Marty Nemko

You're a planner for a midsize city, and, rather than filling the distant suburbs with minimansions, you're eager to redevelop faded urban areas. That approach will require fewer new roads and make better use of existing resources. So you've solicited proposals from developers and selected one.

Now the real work begins. Today, you're reviewing geographic information system maps and other computer-based data to predict how many city services will be needed, from lampposts to libraries to fire hydrants. What mix of parking garages, additional bus service, and other transportation should be required? What about plug-in shared electric cars? You work with the mayor's office to figure out how to extract as many freebies from the developer as possible, things like subsidized low-income-housing units, wireless Internet for the community, and money for the local schools. You call the developer to float the proposal. He's furious and quickly turnsthe conversation to demanding variances in the building codes and zoning regulations. You knew that was coming.

You get off the phone and weigh the impact of the various proposals on all the people affected. You need to get out of the office, so you visit one of the proposed building sites to mull over the options firsthand. Finally, it's back to your office for a phone call with an economist, who can provide some figures to plug into the first-draft budget you'll start on tomorrow.

The official workday ends at 5 p.m., but tonight, you need to attend a public hearing on the project. Everybody has a complaint. Environmentalists warn that wetlands will be destroyed. Preservationists worry that historic buildings might get torn down. Supporters insist that the community desperately needs redevelopment. Your job is simply to present the data. It's up to the politicians to decide whether to build or not.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


An interesting comment on sustainability:

Toronto's poet laureate argues that environmental sustainability cannot be achieved until people become better neighbors and create better communities.

"I shall make a plea for the salvific aspect of the act of walking. Yes, salvific. Not just to save the environment, but to save ourselves, and not just by regarding the environment.

We will not save the environment until we have found a reason for living together.

Until we discover civic care in each other, until we restore the city to its definition as a place of unexpected intimacies, not just as a place of amenities, convenience, business, and entertainment, we will not have sustainability.

For sustainability is about replacing an ethic of entitlement with an ethic of sufficiency. And sufficiency is what we find in each other.

In an era that glorifies independence and even inter-dependence we are shy of admitting the awful truth: that is, we are dependent on each other, not by connectedness, but because we are one body breathing the same air.

It is not cars that are the enemy of the pedestrian. The enemy is the absence of civic communion, the lack of empathic citizenship, our inability to see cohabitation as that place where we enjoy ourselves, by enjoying others."

From Planetizen

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Florida Maritime Museum - Cortez

The My Florida History Blog has a nice post about todays opening of the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez.


Recent news tells the story of a Nevada resident apparently determined to improve his view by removing trees - a lot of trees.

HENDERSON, NEV. -- Cloaked by darkness, a saw tucked under his jacket, Douglas Hoffman skulked through suburbia, methodically killing trees. He severed some. Others he sliced just enough so they would slowly die. In a year's time, authorities said, he wiped out more than 500 trees near an upscale retirement community just south of Las Vegas.

Greenery, he had complained to a homeowners committee, was blocking his view of the Strip.

In November, a jury convicted Hoffman, 60, on 10 charges in the destruction of nearly $250,000 worth of mesquite and other trees. He will likely face sentencing next month and could get as much as 35 years in prison.

This is an interesting commentary on life in America.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dancing Cars

Cars whizz past the Dance

Sarasota's latest version of the Season of Sculpture is generating interest and comment.

On of the more controversial pieces is named the Dance - it could be subtitled cars interacting. The piece is by Dustin Shuler.

Another of Shuler's controversial transportation sculptures is described in a NPR story.

A review of the display can be found here.