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Letter to the Editor

The city needs to simplify zoning for bars and restaurants

An Observer reader attempts to streamline the city's zoning language for bars and restaurants.

  • By
  • | 8:00 a.m. January 11, 2024
  • Sarasota
  • Opinion
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The proposed restaurant and bar zoning text amendments address restaurants, bars, outdoor bars, accessory use outdoor bars, nightclubs, rooftop bars, bottle clubs, microbreweries, private clubs, wineries, location of the bar counter, enclosed vs. enclose-able structure, intensity level, ghost kitchens, time of night, etc. ... How can these proposed ZTAs be easily enforced?

I thought the purpose of these ZTAs was to clarify and simplify the zoning for restaurants and bars? Only two categories are required, restaurants and bars, as follows:

  • Restaurants are defined as establishments whose primary business is to prepare and serve food, ranging from fine dining to hot dogs. Restaurants should remain by-right.
  • Bars are defined as establishments whose primary business is serving alcoholic beverages, and would include all forms of bars, as noted above. Location of the bar counter, intensity level, and whether in an enclosed or enclose-able structure doesn’t matter. Bars should continue to require a major conditional use approved by the City Commission. Primary Use outdoor bars should remain prohibited.

If these proposed ZTAs result in a proliferation of bars downtown, is the city prepared to hire additional police officers, given that downtown crime and public safety would be directly impacted Has the Planning Department compared the proposed ZTAs to other cities', such as Orlando?

City Commission, pleased consider the simplification of these ZTAs that I’ve proposed above.

— John Bordeaux, Sarasota


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