Off-Key

| December 1, 2017

By Bob Frederickson

From Project Delays to Mosquito ‘Hoorays!’

You’d Think This Was the Moon Shot…

It’s official. With lift station 87’s completion date now slated for 2020, the oft delayed (and woefully over budget) city of Sarasota project will officially surpass the time-frame the nation needed to put the first man on the moon.

‘That’s one small step for man, one giant (BLEEP) for Sarasota…”

Tech Device I’d Like to See…

As more and more new cars come equipped with auto-braking systems, the number of rear end collisions should start to decline.

But while your new car may protect you and the guy in front of you from your inattentiveness, what about all the older vehicles that will remain on the road for years to come? How do you protect yourself from distracted drivers in all those automotive relics careening about on the nation’s highways and byways?

What we really need is a sensor installed in your vehicle that automatically sends a push notification to the texting driver hurtling toward you from behind, delivering the time sensitive message: “HEY JACKASS, PUT DOWN THE DAMN PHONE BEFORE WE BOTH END UP TAKING A DIRT NAP!”

A Tale of Two Cities?

A recent piece by John Hielscher in the Herald Tribune reports the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Sarasota has risen to $1380 per month. Which reminds me of my colleague Charmaine Engelsman-Robins frequent observation over the years that looking for both a job and an apartment in the local classified pages carries with it the strange sensation of being in two places at once…say San Francisco based on the housing ads and Tupelo, Mississippi given the wages offered for the jobs advertised in the employment section.

And Why are those Rents so High?

Well, maybe because cities like Sarasota appear to have more important priorities than affordable housing, things like…trees?

Just ask Harvey Vengroff…

His plans to build a 390 unit affordable housing complex near the city’s downtown core have been throttled by a variety of picayune city concerns over the years. First the city maintained there were insufficient parking spaces in his site plan for the proposed project off Fruitville Road, despite it being within walking distance of downtown with its public transportation options and the seemingly obvious point that most of his lower income tenants wouldn’t have cars anyway, making the usual formula for calculating the needed number of spaces irrelevant.

Then, city commissioners talked about mandating annual inspections for his ‘modest’ housing units despite never before considering such inspections for other, tonier projects throughout the city.

Another roadblock? Trees.

 “It looks like a bunch of weeds to me, but somebody says they’re trees,” Vengroff told WTSP reporter Isabella Mascareñas recently as they walked the proposed site.

“We have to do a survey identifying every plant on the property before we can build a building, which is stupid,” Vengroff continued.

And expensive…about $35,000 he says.

This isn’t the first time the city’s tree advisory board folks have been accused of  overzealousness. We reported in this space back in July how Architect Michael Halflants calculated that city rules would require the 160 unit Whitaker Bayou condo project to plant 237 four inch caliper trees on the site, effectively turning the property into a tree farm with no room left for buildings.

No matter…as long as Sarasota is ‘green.’ At least there’ll be plenty of shade for the homeless.

Can’t Make this Stuff Up…

Headline on Advocate.com, reporting on recent election results in Palm Springs, California:

“With Election of Trans, Bi Women, Palm Springs City Council Now Totally Queer.”

Orange You Glad You’re Not a Citrus Grower…

Florida’s citrus industry was already reeling from bad news when Hurricane Irma rolled through the state in September. Now the Department of Agriculture is forecasting this year’s Florida orange crop will be just 50 million boxes, 4 million less than before Irma and 18 million boxes less than last year.

In the words of Randolph Duke to his brother Mortimer down in the OJ futures pit in the movie Trading Places… “SELL Mortimer, SELL!”

Media Incoherence

Wall Street Journal writer Eli Stokols called out the President for tweeting that the New York truck driver terrorist should get the death penalty for his murderous rampage; he then lambasted Trump for not directing a similar declaration toward the white man responsible for the Las Vegas shootings a few weeks earlier.

Uhhh, maybe that’s because the Vegas shooter was ALREADY dead!

Sustainability ‘Buzz’ Offers Salvation for Mosquitos…

Have you noticed an uptick in the number of mosquitos buzzing about lately? Well, an informed source explains it may be due to the county’s adoption of organic mosquito control methods that are all the rage these days among ‘sustainability’ types comfortably ensconced in local government bureaucracies.

Other fans of this kinder, gentler approach to pest control? Mosquitos.

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Category: Business Highlights

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