By Diana Colson
Community Reports, Code Enforcement
Parking: John Lally, Code Enforcement Officer, addressed the group. He said the Sheriff’s Department would do their best to enforce parking this winter. There are 150 new parking spots, but 450 are needed. “It’s kind of sad that tourists get here and can’t find a place to park,” commented Lally.
Rentals: He went on to say: “This is the worse summer we’ve had for illegal short-term rentals.” In residential areas, people can rent their property once every 30 days. Rentals can occur for brief periods, but the property cannot be ‘turned over’ week to week or weekends only, unless the owners are willing to let that happen only once in a 30 day period. “If tenants leave early, so be it. The property cannot be rented out again during that month.”
A member of the board asked Lally to clarify the regulations for renting a single family home on Siesta Key. He said that the renters must be a family unit, with not more than four unrelated adults in one house. “More than that, it’s a violation.”
Illegal Renovations: Lally said the department had recently taken several offenders to court for illegal renovations. Some contractors were licensed, some unlicensed. Licensed contractors know when a permit is needed. The rules are clear: construction must reach 15’4” before living areas can be built. No one can construct a new living area below 15’4” elevation. Below that, the area can only be used for cars and storage, not for living areas. The fine for builders doing Illegal renovation has increased for First Offence, from $500 to $2000.
Outdoor Display Violations: Lally stated he’d been advised by his Supervisors to delay issuing citations or warnings several months ago when there was an effort to change the ordinance. Only a couple of warnings had been issued to businesses displaying their goods on the sidewalk. To date there have not been any changes in Village Ordinances, so he has only issued warnings.
Guest Speaker, Jeff LaHurd: In honor of the 65th year anniversary of SKA, Sarasota Historian, Jeff LaHurd, beguiled the crowd with tales of early Sarasota. LaHurd is a History Specialist with Sarasota County History Center, and has written 16 books about the area. His presentation was witty and fascinating, filled with wonderful old photographs of early Sarasota. Using anecdotes and photographs, LaHurd took Siesta Key from its early days as a fishing camp reached only by boat, to a 1954 “metropolis” boasting 500 permanent residents. Beaches were narrow, groins reaching out in hopes of building the beach. “To dredge in those days,” grinned LaHurd, “all you needed was a note from your mother.”
Committee Reports: Zoning/Environment: Catherine Luckner expressed her gratitude for people who walk the beach and notice unusual environmental activities. Last week a SKA Member noticed landscapers digging a path seaward and removing vegetated dune. The home involved is on Beach Road. It has a Conservation Easement seaward of the house but is landward of property privately owned by the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. The Conservation Foundation was contacted and stated they had not given permission for pathway digging.
“We ask everyone to help us take care of the environment. When you see something, call,” Luckner said, “We are not trying to be the ‘Gestapo’, only caring of what protects us all.” Removal of dune accretion or dune vegetation makes homes vulnerable to storm surge. The area reported is also well known for seasonal nesting of Snowy Plovers, a local protected bird species. For reporting of natural resources violations, call Matt Osterhoudt/Natural Resources 941-861-5000.
Inlet Management: Peter van Roekens said that Marker #1 had washed away.
Membership: Deet Jonker encouraged everyone to use the online web site to pay annual membership. “We hope you will sign up and pay dues on line, making it easier to keep records.” Dues are $30.
Old Business: Avenido de Mayo: Michael Shay addressed the issue of parking. Avenido de Mayo is only about 21’ wide, yet cars are parking on both sides of the street. There is not enough room for emergency vehicles. The Fire Chief recommends no parking from Canal to De Cortez. Shay said that staggered parking is under consideration. “This is not a perfect scenario, but better than nothing.” For now, ‘No Parking’ zones will be established in hopes that ‘Tow Away’ zones won’t have to be developed. The parking fines are $25 at this time.
Lido Renourishment/Big Pass: Peter van Roekens said that the Army Corp of Engineers plans to initiate the permit process in the next month. They are hoping to take sand from the ebb shoal in Big Pass and place three groins on Lido to help restore the shoreline. Because it has been determined that portions of the project area are County Land, it now requires County input. Nonetheless, SKA believes that public input is needed before any permitting is allowed. Van Roekens believes dredging is potentially dangerous for Siesta Key. The Corps of Engineers will be presenting their project plans proposal at the next SKA meeting on December 5th to address the subject.
A proposal for the community to send in requests to the Board of County Commissioners was discussed. The SKA Board had consensus to place detailed information about the concerns in a ‘drop box’ on the SKA web site. Additionally, a sample letter asking for the BCC to have a formal peer review and public input will be provided on the web site. “We are hoping for more clarification and an opportunity for everyone to ask questions. We’ll be developing questions and hope to have good attendance,” said Van Roekens. The December 5th meeting will be held from 5 to 7 PM at St. Boniface Community Room. The public is encouraged to attend this important meeting.
Award: On November 13, Michael Shay accepted the 2013 Volunteer of the Year award to the theme song of “Rocky”. The special Awards Ceremony was held at the Venice Community Center and hosted by Keep Sarasota County Beautiful. According to Program Coordinator, Wendi Crisp, “the Volunteer of the Year award is given to someone who demonstrates leadership efforts and participation supporting KSCB litter prevention programs.” Crisp went on to say that, “Michael was nominated by the Board of Directors for the Siesta Key Association of Sarasota, Inc. and was selected based on his contributions over the past year to Keep Sarasota County Beautiful initiatives.”
Shay has facilitated community collaboration of his group’s adopt-a-road efforts and initiated new ideas for maintaining and enhancing the environment to promote the values of Keep Sarasota County Beautiful. He has also volunteered his time and expertise to help develop a plan for curbside collection of recyclables in the Siesta Village business district.