The 2nd Annual Burns Square "Avenida de Colores" Chalk Festival has a new blog: http://avenidadecolores.blogspot.com with information on the festival and the artists participating.
The 2nd Annual Burns Square "Avenida de Colores" Chalk Festival has a new blog: http://avenidadecolores.blogspot.com with information on the festival and the artists participating.
The 2nd Annual Burns Square Chalk Festival has been announced with the theme being a celebration of the Goddess Flora with a "Avenida de Colores Floralia Festival". Street Painters, or "I Madonnair" who were Italian artists, have used chalk as their medium and the street surfaces as their canvas for over 400 years. This performance art will magically transform Pineapple Avenue - and the observers are a part of the process!
Flora, the sensual goddess of spring, is especially associated with flowers, vines, olives, fruit trees and honey-bearing plants and is usually depicted in paintings in flowing fabric goddess attire surrounded by blossoms. She is a goddess of youthful pleasures, birth and fertility the direct opposite of Halloween. The Floralia festival began in Rome in 238 B.C. to please the goddess so she would protect the spring blossoms.
The Floralia festival celebrates the liberation of blossoms after the confinement of winter. Chalk street painters, knows as "I Madonnair" will tantalize your sights as they chalk examples of romantic, contemporary or neo-classical art onto the street surface of South Pineapple Avenue throughout Saturday and Sunday. Professional I Madonnair, Lori Escalara, who was the people’s choice during the 1st festival, will return. First Place winner, Kitty Dyble Thompson will return and create an anamorphic picture that is beyond amazing to see. Performers will take the stage with various comedies and tragedy shows such as sword swallowing extraordinaire Johnny Fox. The street will capture your sense of smell with flower vendors as well as vendors selling honey, a common gift of the goddess. Women will be dressed in flowing goddess dresses selling flower wreaths to be worn in your hair. There will be a lack of sound by mimes on performing boxes and the beautiful sounds by pantomimes and musicians staged at different areas. Tasty sensations with booths of delectable food selections will be available, such as Nancy Krongold's BBQ and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Booths will be available for consumption of oceans of grog and spirits (Fruit Juice Smoothies, Mimosas, Champagne, and Beer). A true celebration of spring, the renewal of life and flower blossoms in honor of the Goddess Flora.
Various contests involving flowers will be held throughout the event. Best flower decorated light pole, best floral tiara and best floral painting. Have an idea? Please let us know.
A children section will be available for our inspiring artists to play with chalk and flowers.
The entire event is family oriented. For more information contact: Avenida de Colores at Denise.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarasota rules Plaza project is a hotel
An earlier review had denied developer Al Hochstadt’s plans for a 173-room hotel, finding the five-story structure between Orange and Palm avenues would be more time-share than hotel.
But in a July 15 letter Hochstadt amended those plans, committing to make just over half the rooms available for daily or weekly rentals. That makes Plaza Hotel primarily a hotel, according to a ruling by Timothy Litchet, director of the city’s neighborhood and development services, dated Wednesday.
The deadline to appeal Litchet’s ruling is Aug. 7.
Hochstadt’s plans drew criticisms from neighbors, including Lottie Varano who had successfully challenged the idea that the project is a hotel, since it was to involve sale of units under fractional ownership similar to a time share.
In May, Hochstadt filed suit against Varano, alleging he was spreading misinformation about the project, creating delays and costing the developer’s business money. Varano claims the lawsuit was aimed at intimidating him.
Neither Hochstadt nor Varano could be reached for comment Friday.
Hochstadt’s altered plans defined the project in terms of time: 173 rooms split into 9,020 weeks each year. He committed to making guest rooms totalling 4,520 weeks each year available for daily or weekly rental, while the remaining 4,500 weeks could be sold.
The new ruling sets the project on two paths. Hochstadt had appealed the city’s finding that his earlier project was not a hotel. That appeal could ultimately go to court and if Hochstadt wins he could be allowed to build as earlier planned, City Attorney Robert Fournier wrote in a memo to Litchet. If that happens Hochstadt would be in a position of picking which of the two approved options he wanted to build.
CITY COMMISSION MEETING 6/16/08 BSQ PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON IMPROVEMENTS TO PEDESTRIAN CROSSING AT ORANGE & PINEAPPLE
It has been well over a year since BSQ first presented the roundabout project to the city commission but somehow we continue to hear there was not enough time to achieve a real solution.
Here is where our "least common denominator" thinkng has left us:
We have eliminated the synergy with the County to save the City hundreds of thousands of dollars and the BSQ businesses the inconvenience of multiple construction projects, eliminated needed crosswalks, removed access for thousands of customers a day, eliminated additional parking opportunities, did not reduced traffic speeds, lost the opportunity to make the pedestrian a priority over the vehicle, maintained all the dangerous car crash conflict areas, eliminated reduction of our carbon footprint, have not reduced unneeded traffic lanes and took away opportunities for additional greenspace.
Yes, you preserved the left hand turn out of Oak Street so the handful of residents who travel that way do not have to go around a block, but this choice was at the expense of the thousands of downtown customers a day who now have no access.
This design preserves an intersection that whether it is or is not the most beautiful it can be is subjective; let alone, how the city has quantified that is questionable at best.
The design before you is a design that the Burns Square Property Owners Association has been requesting since our 2005 charrette, which was prior to 2007 study which resulted in the roundabout recommendation and all of the benefits that came with it.
Therefore, if this is all we can get out of this thing the commission tagged "process", our original 2005 design, then we hope you vote for these improvements before you today as well as immediately fund the Alderman roundabout for construction during the County Storm Water project.
I personally found the article very informative about SLAPP.
As far as the Plaza Hotel and the developer, we in Burns Square continue to work WITH the developer to get the best possible project we can mentor in a positive way. If the developer is proposing a project that is within the right THE CITY COMMISSION dictated in our codes, then what about his proposal makes him a ‘sob developer’ or has ‘developers greed’? As they say, “don’t shoot the messenger”.
I have great respect for the citizens concerned and nobody is saying they do not have a right to speak up; in fact it was never discouraged but honored. As president of the Burns Square Property Owners Association, I spent time speaking with most of them and attended a condominium meeting on the subject as guest speaker. But they choose to go in a different direction, hire a lawyer and stop open dialogue for constructive change.
The hand was open but they have nobody to blame but them for the conflict that is now created by their actions…hopefully they will accept the open hand again and constructive debate can restart.
Denise Kowal, President, BSQ Property Owners
The developer is firing back with a lawsuit, blaming Varano for spreading misinformation, creating delays and costing his business money.
The lawsuit, filed less than a month before city officials consider the planned Plaza Hotel, has characteristics of a so-called SLAPP lawsuit, a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Such lawsuits aim to silence dissent and limit public participation in government decisions.
Those suits are discouraged in Florida, one of 26 states to adopt laws to protect people like Varano.
But experts say Florida's law is weak and leaves residents who complain about developments open to legal fees and hassles involved with defending themselves in court.
Varano, who did not think discussing the project with neighbors and city officials would land him in court, now has had to hire an attorney and filed a motion to dismiss the case.
"It's someone who's trying to bully me around and prevent me from asserting my First Amendment rights," Varano said.
Developer Al Hochstadt said he would not have sued if Varano's complaints were credible. He declined to say how much he was seeking in damages, although Varano said Hochstadt told him it was $10 million.
"They've caused a lot of delays, they've cost us a lot of money," Hochstadt said. "These people have a lot of money and have a lot of political pressure."
The project is in line for a fast-track approval under the city's new downtown code: It can be approved by staff and does not need to go before the City Commission.
Seeds of dissent
Hochstadt began buying up land between Palm and Orange avenues more than 20 years ago, and sees his planned hotel as "a little piece of Europe" that will become a destination here.
He wants to break ground and complete the hotel by 2010.
Nearby merchants see the project as a way to boost foot traffic in the Burns Square area.
But residents say the project is too big and will generate too much traffic, clogging two narrow side streets.
On May 12, Varano sent a letter to the city challenging the idea that the project is a hotel, as it will involve the sale of some units under "fractional ownership" similar to a time share.
Varano and his neighbors are also outraged that the hotel could be built without a vote by elected officials.
Hochstadt met with Varano, the president of the Essex House Association, and other residents of condominiums in the area about those concerns on April 9.
In the lawsuit, Hochstadt says that meeting was an ambush orchestrated by Varano. Instead of a few residents, he says he was met by more than 50 people who pushed him for information about the project. Hochstadt says they were fishing for details they could use against him.
Neighbors have since organized a group called Concerned Citizens of Palm Avenue, and have hired attorney Richard Ulrich, who sent a letter to the city saying the hotel suites are more like condominiums.
Hochstadt also sent an e-mail to Ulrich threatening a lawsuit.
A hearing for the Plaza Hotel project is scheduled for Wednesday before the Development Review Committee. If the plan meets all the standards of the city's new downtown code, the board has to approve it.
Hochstadt said he hopes the lawsuit sends a message to Varano and others opposed to his development.
"He's got to be very careful in what he does," Hochstadt said. "People must be responsible for their actions."
Obligations under the law
That approach is problematic because it is not up to a developer to decide what information is credible enough to be presented to decision-makers, said University of Central Florida sociology professor Penelope Canan.
Canan coined the term SLAPP in the 1980s, when she researched suits brought by developers to silence critics, especially environmentalists.
"If the government can't hear from the people it's supposed to represent, then the government can't do its job," Canan said. "It undermines good decision-making."
Florida law allows for a SLAPP lawsuit to be thrown out of court quickly and awards legal fees to the defendant, but it is weak compared to other states such as California.
In Florida, defendants have to convince a judge that the lawsuit is "without merit" and filed only because they used their free speech rights to address the government. If it is deemed a SLAPP suit, then the law allows the defendant to get attorneys fees and possibly damages from the person who filed it.
In California, the burden is on the plaintiffs to establish that they are probably going to win the lawsuit, or the case gets thrown out.
In both states, the battle can become complicated and expensive just to determine whether the lawsuit is a SLAPP lawsuit.
Canan said the average SLAPP lawsuit takes two years to go through the court system.
Threat of a similar lawsuit might make other citizens think twice about speaking up in their neighborhood, she said.
So far, SLAPP suits have been rare in Sarasota County.
Ann Kaplan, president of the Sarasota Council of Neighborhood Associations, or CONA, said her group's opposition has gotten her threatened with a lawsuit, but she has not heard of a SLAPP lawsuit filed in Sarasota County recently.
Sarasota attorney Morgan Bentley said there have been fewer SLAPP lawsuits filed since the state law was adopted.
Every case depends on the details, so it is hard for legislators to pre-empt an entire type of lawsuit, Bentley said.
As it is written, the law tries to balance two fundamental rights: the right to free speech and the right to sue someone for damages, Bentley said.
And the law's provision allowing for defendants to get damages against the person or company that filed the suit can be an effective deterrent, Bentley said.
"You just don't want to step in it," Bentley said.
THE CITY ALLIANCE FORMED TO PROMOTE A VIBRANT AND SUSTAINABLE DOWNTOWN
SARASOTA, Fla.---- Major downtown Sarasota associations and constituencies representing over 3000 members have joined voices and resources to form The City Alliance. The City Alliance has the common vision of building a vibrant and sustainable downtown Sarasota. At the start of 2008, The City Alliance defined its mission to “Leverage the combined energy and resources of private sector stakeholder associations through collaboration, shared ideas, and group action on targeted initiatives.”
The City Alliance is a coalition of four major downtown constituencies:
§ business and civic groups, including cultural and religious institutions
§ commercial property owners
§ residents and their condominium associations
§ The Merchants Alliance of the five major downtown merchants associations.
The City Alliance was formed to present a united voice representative of the views and interests of downtown stakeholders in all public dialogue concerning downtown and city affairs. The goal is to work to insure that downtown Sarasota is an attractive and prosperous city center that sustains an attractive and prosperous city. The City Alliance is eager to join in public-private sector collaboration to help Sarasota weather the difficult economic times we face as a community, including the fiscal constraints on local governments.
The City Alliance has selected five initiatives for immediate attention:
§ implement the redesign of Fruitville Road from US 301 to US 41 as an attractive gateway to downtown and the bay front
§ establish a downtown improvement district
§ pursue the city’s project to make Tamiami Trail through the downtown corridor pedestrian-friendly for easy access between downtown and the bay front
§ faithfully implement the city’s master plan
§ continue to develop a Downtown Historic District.
DTP Forum 5/27/08 DENISE KOWAL SPEECH
“City Core and Surrounding City Neighborhoods; Can We Find Mutual Understanding?”
I moved from Cohasset, a beautiful town on the rocky shores of the Atlantic coast just south of Boston to Laurel Park in the early 1980’s. This is during a time when homes in Laurel Park could be purchased for $20,000 and that was a double lot. I cried many times my first year and half because downtown was so unappealing to me, then I discovered Siesta Key and moved to Midnight Pass. But in 1983 I cast my lot with downtown, and I made the decision that I was going to do what I could to help it become the best city it could be.
Over the past 60 years, as our addiction to the automobile has become epidemic, the evolution of our cities has taken a path unlike any other in our history. What happened? In a word, we sprawled. We didn't just move westward looking for new, self-sufficient farms and new cities, we moved away from the center of the cities but expected their urban amenities to remain available to us….. And why not? All we had to do was hop into our cars! …… Now, Is there anyone left in the room that hasn't caught on to climate change? & 4 dollar gasoline? - so I’ll move on.
Luckily for us, the City of Sarasota was born just prior to this type of thinking, and even though the industrial revolution was underway at that time, widespread ownership of cars had not happened. Our founders created a city using traditional Urbanist principles, with diverse, compact neighborhoods surrounding a city core. A city in which Sarasota’s population lived in cozy proximity to each other, near everyone's daily needs and entertainment venues. Downtown belonged to everyone, because everyone supported it, and it supported them. Everything important happened downtown.
But the Old Urbanism, which our founders relied upon in designing our city, was systematically shattered, as our society sprawled, and decade-by-decade, we destroyed the downtown community. We no longer took ownership of our downtown, and we started to look outward for our daily needs. We sprawled, we sprawled our living spaces, we sprawled our businesses, we sprawled our entertainment - we sprawled and we are still sprawling today. And as we sprawled, we drove. We drove until "a chicken in every pot" became "Two SUV's in every driveway".
It is through this neglect by sprawling that, we, the citizens of Sarasota, over time lost ownership of downtown. And because so many lost interest and looked outside the city to meet their needs, our city spiraled downward and became blighted. Our economic engine was dying. Downtown no longer belonged to everyone.
As in many beautiful cities, there were people downtown who continued to struggle to put our city back on track, visionaries, and by the turn of the 21st century our city commission did the right thing, and took ownership that in fact our downtown had failed. Both Mayor Palmer and Commissioner Atkins were part of that turnaround, and I am proud to say, “I was too”… and as I look around the room, I see many of you who can say, “so was I”.
That process began by speaking to the responsible part of us, the part that enjoys being grown up and socially responsible locally.
It was at this time, our commission made history by adopting some highly important documents, the Downtown Master Plan 2020 and the related SmartCode. Those documents intended the city I envision, giving stability, predictability and a vision so that people such as I, who invest our lives in this city, can plan our futures accordingly. I say I support the intent, as opposed to the eventual content, because Sarasota politics took the calibration of those documents away from the professional planners where it belongs, and thrust it into the political arena. This has created instability and un-predictably with an inconsistent vision, reducing those of us who invest in this city to gamblers. From visionaries to gamblers in less than ten years.
Now is the time for us to work together and embrace our Founders' vision while also protecting the intent of our New Urbanist Master Plan by helping our city and downtown reach their full potential. Marrying the Old Urbanism of no cars, with our New Urbanist principles of cars in appropriate amounts and places, and getting a grasp on our human footprint is something we can all support for our downtown. It is something that makes sense.
I say, that if our community chooses to allow... select neighborhood leaders to dictate... a future that is against increased density and growth within our city, then at least lets face those decisions honestly.
Let’s acknowledge that to allow our city neighborhoods the luxury of not increasing their density or even... the density of their neighbors, we are accepting a future that brings a larger impact on our natural resources, produces more pollution and does not support a sustainable future. By doing this, we are accepting all the mistakes we have made over the past 60 years of sprawl. This choice of course will put more of the burden on the city core and suburban areas, because people will go somewhere. That is a decision we can make. However, it is not a decision without consequences.
I just say, do not ask our downtown to follow that same path. Do not impose these so-called "neighborhood values" on our downtown because our downtown, our city core is the only area that can support the big picture changes needed for decreasing our human footprint, protecting our physical commons and moving towards a truly sustainable community. A properly functioning city is more protective of our natural resources than any other human habitat.
We live in an interconnected world in which even one seemingly small change ultimately impacts everything else for years to come.
Under the circumstances, is it okay for us to demand that all change be gradual because change makes us uncomfortable? When more than a hundred species go extinct every day because continued encroachment of sprawl upon natural habitat? I truly hope not.
Therefore I ask of you …..what kind of future do you want? And how do you think we will get there from here? And will we be driving…or walking?
Bob, can you address the status of the land purchase for a parking facility and the city's priorities for the intersection of Orange and Pineapple since we are in the midst of construction. Thank you, DeniseDenise: I am meeting with staff next week to see what can be done to move the Orange/Pineapple intersection improvements forward. Parking land acquisition program is still in process. Bob BartollotaBob: (ON PARKING) Process... So is the carving of the Grand Canyon but at least you can see progress. DeniseBACKGROUND:The City Commission approved entering into negotiations with Michael Saunders for the Verizon parcel on November 5th, 2007 (http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20071106/NEWS/711060403/-1). At the following City Commission meeting, the City Commission approved entering into negotiations with the Woman's Exchange for their parcel on November 19th, 2007 (http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20070924/NEWS/709240491/-1/xml&display=Salestirsupneighborhoods).