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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 9, 2015 6 years ago

Our View | Parking on the causeway?

The city’s concept for John Ringling Causeway looks attractive. But it would be a motorists’ disaster.

It must be in their DNA. Whenever an “urban planner” is afforded the opportunity to sketch his world, the results are always the same: Beautify the surroundings and make life extraordinarily inconvenient for anyone in a car.

Take the rendering above. 

That’s the design concept that came out of the city of Sarasota’s “Urban Design Studio” (known in the good old days as the planning department) for John Ringling Causeway between Bird Key and Coon Key.

Take a close look. And let us remind you what the Sarasota Observer reported March 26:

“The concept was made with a goal in mind: getting cars off of the street to reduce the burden on the congested corridor. (Urband Design Studio Director Karin) Murphy highlighted a multifaceted approach to achieving that goal, with provisions for walkers, cyclists and people using public transit included.”

Look closely again. As Murphy has designed that stretch of a road, you can see parallel and angled parking spaces on both sides. Mind you, this is a road where motorists are driving from 35 to 45 mph — because these are people who want or need to get to their destinations as quickly as they can. Can you imagine creeping along at 20 or 25 mph from Bird Key all the way through St. Armands Circle?

But in the urban-planner world, cars are the equivalent of Al Gore’s climate change. The intent is to convert everyone to walk, bike or drive 15 mph in between annoying speed bumps.

Sure, wider bike paths and sidewalks and more attractive landscaping would improve the gateway to the Sarasota gems of St. Armands Circle and Lido Beach. All of that would be welcome (if affordable).

But if John Ringling Causeway remains the only primary entry to and exit from St. Armands, Lido and Longboat Keys, Murphy’s attractive and wishful design would be, should be, a non-starter. That design  may well relieve that road’s traffic congestion, all right. No one will want to drive it.

… On the other hand, if there were a second bridge to Longboat Key, then it could make more sense … 



This is soooo Sarasota, and it’s so amusing. To wit:

In the March 26 edition of the Observer, we reported, “For nearly a year, downtown residents and businesses have searched for ways to preserve Palm Avenue’s historic DeMarcay Hotel, slated to be replaced with an 18-story residential and commercial building.

“Now, residents at a nearby condominium are taking legal action in an attempt to block the construction of the high-rise development. On March 19, the 1350 Main Residential Condominium Association — along with three individual residents of the Main Street building — filed suit against the city and XAC Developers…”

Meanwhile, down in Palmer Ranch, residents of the Silver Oaks development appeared before the Sarasota County Planning Commission to persuade it to require homebuilder Taylor Morrison to build a 50-foot buffer and an 8-foot berm between Silver Oaks and Taylor Morrison’s new residential development. Taylor Morrison is proposing instead a 30-foot buffer and a 4-foot berm.

All of this is too funny. To us it is, anyway. To those who are protesting the two developments, it’s not funny at all.

But once again, these two instances illustrate the classic Florida story that has occurred over and over again in every growing Florida community over the past 50 years. Here’s the story:

It’s OK for existing residents to have developed what they have, but it’s not OK for property owners next door to exercise their property rights for a project their neighbors don’t like.

This is hilarious, it’s so absurd: Residents of the 1350 Main high-rise in downtown Sarasota are trying to use the courts to block the owners of the DeMarcay Hotel property next door from constructing an 18-story hotel-condominium high-rise — even though the DeMarcay property already has permitted property rights to build an 18-story structure!

Meanwhile, Silver Oaks residents are lobbying to force Taylor Morrison to spend its own money to construct a larger berm and buffer than is required to appease the Silver Oaks residents.

And you have to love this: Taylor Morrison already eliminated two lots for a wildlife corridor at the direction of the county. To which Silver Oaks resident Jorg Hernler said: “If they make room for wildlife, can’t they make a little more room for taxpayers? All we’re asking for is a decent buffer.”

At whose expense?

Likewise with the DeMarcay: The residents living in the 1350 Main high-rise want the courts to confiscate the DeMarcay property owners’ rights — at the DeMarcay owners’ expense. 

How is that just?

We have addressed this struggle many times before. The solution is simple — and just. It goes like this: 

Late economist Milton Friedman lived in a high-rise looking out at San Francisco Bay. One day, a developer purchased the property across the street from Friedman’s condominium and proposed to build another high-rise condominium.

Friedman and his neighbors didn’t want their views of the bay interrupted. But rather than whine to the city government to block the proposed condominium, they bought the property from the developer and preserved their views.

If you want a bigger buffer, buy the property yourself to create it. 

If you want to preserve the low-rise DeMarcay, buy it.



To no surprise, Florida’s liberal media outlets are slamming and hammering  Gov. Rick Scott for “flip-flopping” on expanding Medicaid in Florida.  You might even call it bait and switch. 

Before the enactment of Obamacare, Scott opposed expanding Medicaid in Florida, essentially on the basis it was fiscally immoral — too costly, unaffordable and a bad system for Floridians. Then, as his gubernatorial re-election came about, he announced — tacitly, mind you — he would support expanding Medicaid. 

By taking that position, you could see the strategy: Attempt to mute the liberal media’s attacks on him while he campaigned against pro-government, “I-care-about-you” Charlie Crist.

And now, after being re-elected, Scott says he opposes Medicaid expansion.

As one longtime Republican pol told us: Unfortunately, it’s politics. “What would you rather have,” he asked, “a re-elected Republican Gov. Scott or Charlie Crist? You do what you have to do.”

That is exactly why so many Americans cannot stomach politics. Politicians say and do things they don’t believe — forfeit principles — to get elected or re-elected.

We never believed the governor supported Medicaid expansion. He did nothing visible last session to push it through the Legislature. To the contrary, almost everything Scott has done since 2010 — and before that — has been aimed at limiting or reducing the size of the “state.” What’s more, Scott funded and led the most public campaign to defeat Obamacare before he decided to run for governor.

Actions speak louder than words.


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