Local government is to blame for fences

By Michael Holderness, in his opinion

   The Covid-19 Pandemic has not only changed every aspect of our daily lives but also revealed some of the fundamental issues and conflicts that exist in our society. When private owners on Mira Mar Beach, south of an existing failed groin at presumed Access #2, fence private properties to prevent hundreds of vacationers from staying on them, the issues of who owns the beach and what a private owner can do to stop the spread of novel coronavirus come into light.

    The state and county closed the public beaches, however, Siesta Key private homeowners had to fight to keep their private beach closed for public safety and welfare. Their reward was a citation from county officials that violated FL statues and the Constitution.

  County forcing owners to leave private beaches open for county financial gain. When the county announced the closing of public beaches and schools in late March, 1,000s of locals swamped our beach lot in Miramar; while residences and businesses were trying to get their guests out of town.

   Over the next 10 days, local government was begged to intervene and stop the unsupervised mass gatherings of 500 to 1,000 people day in and day out.  Local Government took no action other than their staff member’s continued abuse on the neighborhood. This is NOT China, but Sarasota County is still forcing private owners to keep their lands open to public intensity for more governmental financial gains.

   First off; Local Governments can’t pick and choose when to abuse their authority. As THE CHARTER and the municipality over all municipalities within Sarasota County; County did not adhere to the governor’s covid-19 orders!

   The Covid-19 pandemic only amplified the role the “Public Beach” Access signs have in forcing visitors to go through the access to stay in the private beach area and violate “beach close” orders.

    What is the motivation of the county to force private beaches to remain open to the public after the Governor forced the county to close theirs?  MONEY! Siesta Key, and its world class beaches,  is a key donor community as it collects 1/3rd  of the taxes and is Sarasota’s (which includes the City) #1 financial driver i.e. local Government is forcing owners to keep their private beaches open for FINANCIAL GAIN.

However, did not empower the Sheriff to enforce the Governor’s order for global Sarasota and all municipalities within. County chooses to NOT manage, own or fund this neighborhood so, it’s not a county park. Miramar was swarmed before and continues after county closed the main beach and forced private beaches to remain open.

   Per Sarasota county “Fences are NOT illegal, just unauthorized.” Well, Sec. VII-1101. – Fences and walls and hedges. Open mesh or open chain link fences, up to a maximum of ten feet in height, are permitted” and December 2009, Sarasota County rejected a proposed ordinance that prohibited “signs, gates, barricades, fences, walls or physical impediments” seaward of a bluff to established line of vegetation. The ordinance was rejected per Sarasota County attorney. Regardless; Miramar is NOT a beach; but in fact, platted lots in a subdivision, like any other and owners would not have been forced to put up fences if LOCAL GOVERNMENT didn’t create “the situation.”

   FORCED FENCING: It was critical that County Government immediately enforce the “two-week stay at home” order our Governor gave to Sarasota County (not rely on citizens’ honor system) and stop forcing owners to keep their private properties on beaches open to the public!

    Sarasota comp plan also requires public beaches to be part of coastal development project and established an official policy to use county funds to acquire beach lots and waterfront Property. However, instead of preserving lands and managing them for public lands, Sarasota County refuse but instead added “Public Beach” signage all through Miramar. Siesta Key has the lowest public beach ownership and the highest number of beach access points with misleading “Public Beach” signs.

   Amongst the eight-mile long shoreline, the county only owned the Siesta Key Public Beach, purchased in 1954, and Turtle Beach. The number of public beaches owned by the county is very low.  In terms of the public beach area, Sarasota County is ranked among the lowest coastal counties in Florida. With around 10% of their sandy beaches in public ownership, the county falls significantly short of the statewide average of 40% but speaks for all beaches public and private.

   Unlike the county staff’s scheme (that led to the FAKE NEWS Reopen Beach Rd. clan taking it upon themselves to cost taxpayers 1,000,000.00); county does NOT hold rights; owners do! i.e. Presumed to be public through-fare with NO Publicly owned Beach is unmanaged insanity. Therefore, signage could never legally use “Public Beach” when through-fare, at best, means “No Stopping, Standing or Sitting.” In Miramar! ONLY MHWL rights to transverse south or to the ocean to swim.  There is no stopping, sitting, or standing on accesses #2, #3, and #4 and certainly none along MHWL and said accesses in Miramar subdivision are the legal through-fares to private beach lots.

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   Unlike the main beach, there is no fund and very limited support for private beaches. It’s plain lawless from physical altercations towards owners; constant abuse and conflicts. There is uncontrolled intensity (mostly vehicular), and most forget that outside the main beach are neighborhoods, not county-owned public parks. Gaining access at the pier, 4×4 trucks constantly doing donuts on the white sand.   

   We DEMAND LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO STEP UP AND DO WHAT IS REQUIRED TO PROPERLY MANAGE.  Hence, the reason why 25-year-old signs state just that and why the road vacation wasn’t needed. LOL Any thorough-fare must NOT include vehicular traffic and the County does not own any “public beaches” as “Public Beach” signage in Miramar reads, rendering the signages as misleading and highly possibly illegal!  

   Local government does NOT have our public’s best interests in mind! Did local government also forget The Florida Property Owner Bill of Rights or think they are above the law?  Including but not limited to; *Limited ability to possess and protect private property *No right to quiet enjoyment of one’s property *Right to excluded others from one’s property (abused by county when attempted even during a pandemic) *RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS *Many others apply as well but takings are ILLEGALas are fraudulent easements.

Governor’s Orders and Sarasota County holding authority

Make no mistake, the county HOLDS the authority to close county and all municipalities (City) within the county, but they REFUSED to do so before being forced to close public beaches.  Then, the county forced private owners to keep their beach lots open. 

   As the county must uphold state law, the county does NOT hold the authority to supersede the state’s restrictions.  It was/is the county’s responsibility to govern accordingly – the county can’t ignore some and supersede others.

   Saying the beaches NOT being closed falls on the governor and the county trying to blame the Governor IS All FALSE. The county is the charter; the county sits as WNCA (not FDEP) as the governing authority over all beaches, bay, inlet water ways and waters out to nine miles.  Make no mistake, Sarasota County is the governing authority over county and all municipalities (like the city) within the municipality (the county).

   County chooses to turn a blind eye on the city’s illegal activity but tied uses the same regulations to abuse their own citivens?! THIS IS AN ATTACK ON EVERYONE’S FREEDOM!

   The county still refuses to RED TAG the city as the city is trying to dredge in the county/state marine park without a COUNTY permit. The dredging of Big Pass is terrifying. Dr. Gilmore, Dr. Beach, and Mote Marine are all in agreement that it will impair global Sarasota/Manatee’s waterquality and wipe out the marine park.

   It would also wipe out Siesta.  Who is our advocate when Sarasota County (under WNCA) is ignoring all local, regional and state laws, requirements, rules, ordinances, and statues? In my opinion, it’s all about financial gains and to set NEW precedents for the city to make billions on Lido and LBK, i.e. municipality within the county.

   Unlike Siesta Key, if they called it “private” how could they use public funds to nourish it with public funding?  In order to get federal funding to extend the private beach in the city out to 200’, i.e. “advanced nourishment”, the city needed more public parking spaces for its calculations stating it is public. See 200’ is NOT the natural contour of Lido… 85’ is Lido’s max. Basically, the MORE public parking spaces, the more funding for more beach.  Without this parking, this extended (200’ from 85’) project and all these issues would not exist.  Red Tide Tom used the public to obtain public funds to build up the private beach and privatize private beach. No consideration that a REAL BEACH (sustainable) is crescent-shaped.

   Who the HECK is our advocate to protect us from the dredging, especially when the public funds are being used for the PRIVATE beaches inside THE CITY on Lido that even stayed open during the pandemic as private beaches?

   Solution for all: Familiar with cut D3?  I am not against developing.

-D3 can set the exact same precedent (can build out LBK) and holds 2MM of the most beautiful sand. I am not for using any of these sites, however D3 is not my fight. Go to D3 and SAVE Cut C.  I think I can immediately get all/every lawsuit present and future dropped.

–  Marine Park dredging will impair water quality and destroy Siesta. The southern groin will erode the southern tip out front of these spots used, and the groin will block public access to traverse to the north. 

   Show them our VOICE! SHARE, SHARE, SHARE  – SARASOTA CITY STAFF MEMBER, CITY MANAGER, RED TIDE TOM BARWIN CANCELLED THE BOAT RACES AND PLANS ON STEALING OUR SIESTA QUARTZ SAND. ONLY FOR CITY’S ATTEMPT TO EXTEND THE MAN-MADE LIDO BEACH OUT ANOTHER 200’ (TO BUILD EVEN MORE HIGH-RISES) ON TAX PAYER’S DIME! WAVE HEIGHTS TO DOWN-TOWN LIDO and SIESTA WERE AVERAGED. AVULSION AND WAVE-HEIGHTS WILL BE DEADLY AND MOST CERTAINLY PUT SIESTA IN A SPECIAL HIGH HAZARD ZONE. *USACOE MODELING SHOW OUR BEACHES WILL LIKELY LOSE 1,000 FEET! AND USACOE AFFIRMED BARWIN AND ALEX DAVIS-SHAW LIED ABOUT THE SAND VOLUME NEEDED.
   WAKE UP SARASOTA; BARWIN IS AGAINST LOCAL “REGULAR BOATERS“ AND WANTS OUR SAND. HE WILL DESTROY OUR WATER-QUALITY FOR HIS SELF-SERVING INTERESTS AND DEVELOPER MONEY! STRONGLY NOTE: SARASOTA COUNTY IS AGAIN NOT BEING YOUR ADVOCATE. 

   WITH NO REGARDS TO HIS CITY’S TDT COLLECTORS/BUSINESS OWNERS AND THEIR STAFF; A CERTAIN TELL IS CITY MANAGER CANCELLED THE RACES IN ANTICIPATION TO DREDGE OUR BIG PASS ‘MARINE PARK’ i.e. #1 or 28 ESTUARY DESIGNATED BY CONGRESSMAN VERN BUCHANAN “AN ESTUARY OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANT”  WHY SO SIGNIFICANT? BECAUSE IT’S THE LIFE-BLOOD OF OUR ECONOMY & CRUCIAL ECO-SYSTEM THAT COMBATS TOM BARWIN’S SEWAGE FED LOCALIZED RED TIDE; WITHOUT SEA GRASSES OUR WATER-QUALITY WILL 100% BE IMPAIRED!  
   LET’S SHOW THE SPECIAL INTEREST HOW POWERFUL MEDIA CAN BE.
   Stopping development is not the most important thing… KEEPING  developers OUT of cut B, C, and our Shoal. They have more than what they want (not need) to extend private beach out a +200’ in cut D3. D3 isn’t my fight.
   Any COUNTY commissioner can step in and should stop the city. If they say they can’t, you tell me personally and we’ll call them out commissioners@scgov.net

Picture showed us what happened when they merely dug a hole and used our sand to develop man-made Bird Key in 1950. Hence the reason for all our local and regional regular environmental regulations, rules, laws, ordinances, and statutes that City is illegally avoiding.

*Said environment regulations, rules, laws, ordinances, and statutes is why COUNTY was given the charter that holds the county to a HIGHER standard and DUTY as the WNCA i.e. County is the jurisdictional authority over our inlet waterways, bays, and waters out to 9 miles.  

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Key Stakeholders who live here depend on it! Marine Life, Public Beach Users (residents and visitors), Sarasota County, Siesta Key Residents, Private Beachfront Landowners on Lido, and NOT the County Government and city manager, “RED TIDE Tom” Barwin’s special interests.

*Donations are important and appreciated, visit skedf.org This space is paid for by Siesta Key resident and business owner, Michael Holderness.