Island Chatter

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By Diana Colson



  •  Code Enforcement:  Sarasota County’s John Lally reported that 39 cases have been written up over the past 4 weeks. Most concerned banners, outdoor displays, etc. He said that illegal rentals were absolutely going crazy.  Repeated rental issues are being sent to a Special Magistrate who can levy fines of up to $500 a day.  On the issue of charging a fee for parking in a private lot, Lally said that a place first has to have a Business Certificate of Occupancy in order to charge fees for parking. It was acknowledged that Siesta Key will probably always have insufficient parking, and temporary permits might be issued for seasonal parking to alleviate the situation.


  •  Sheriff’s Office:  Deputy MacGregor said that there had been four fistfights in the parking lot over the weekend, all disputes over parking spaces.  Ultimately the 141 additional parking spots that are being created that will help defuse the situation, but it’s a while before they will be ready. He added that any additional parking that can be done legally will help.  4th of July there will be additional personnel on Siesta. Many people buy fireworks before discovering some are illegal. (If the label says CAUTION, they are legal. If the label says WARNING, they are NOT legal.)  Sheriff’s Office will NOT respond to calls about fireworks going off unless someone agrees to personally meet with the Sheriff. The Sheriff must witness the crime actually taking place. In line with these realities, there have not been any fireworks arrests made in the past several years. As for any citizen noticing suspicious activity on the Key, Deputy MacGregor said to immediately call 941.316.1201, or 911.   To report road rage or other illegal driving issues, call 941.365-TAGS.The Sheriff’s Office will provide digital signs around the Key and beach parking lot as a safety precaution and reminder regarding illegal fireworks and our wildlife protections. 

    In addition, volunteers will be stationed and visible at wildlife nesting sites as an added safety measure.  

  •  Fireworks Display:  Cost is $38,000. Michael Shay said that SKA had purchased five $150 VIP package tickets from Parks & Recreation. These tickets will be raffled off. Each VIP ticket entitles the bearer to 2 adult tickets, reserved parking, food and drink, and a great view of the fireworks.  There is a “Keep Sarasota County Beautiful” cleanup scheduled for the early morning of July 5.

FEATURED SPEAKER, MATTHEW R. OSTERHOUDT, SARASOTA COUNTY DIRECTOR FOR NATURAL RESOURCES: Osterhoudt addressed County Priority Issues concerning Beaches, Wildlife, and Water Quality.

  •  The Department of Natural Resources is the environmental Protection Division for Sarasota County.
  •  Their Air and Water Quality team is concerned with fertilizer, rain barrels, and the like.
  •  Their Environmental Team is concerned with dock permitting, tree permitting, Canopy Roads, and Mangrove trimming. Every new subdivision has to have an environmental review and environmental permitting.
  •  Their Environmental Planning Team deals with Big Pass dredging, land use changes, and wildlife, including manatees, sea turtles, snowy plovers and the like.

The Department of Natural Resources looks forward to receiving and reviewing the report due June 11th concerning the dredging of Big Pass.

Questions/ Public Comments:

  •  I there any regular testing of water going on? All local water quality data is available at
  •  Any plans to dredge the canals on Siesta Key?  No, responded Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson.
  •  Katherine E. Zimmermann raised the issue of sign pollution—signs such as “Hidden Driveway; No Fishing; No jumping,” etc. Who controls these signs?  Catherine Luckner suggested Zimmermann contact the Sheriff’s Office and request that offending signs be removed.
  •  An audience member stated that a dog park is needed on the key.  She was told that Parks & Recreation would be the group to contact.
  •  Paul Wilkinson would like to revisit the Post Disaster Plan. He feels that the current wrist band system for property owners would cause chaos and needs to be reworked.


Bob Luckner had good news to share. It has been a record-breaking year for birds. Last year only 5 snowy plovers survived. Today we have 8 snowy plover nests with one hatched chick 31 eggs expected to hatch, most up at Access #4. In addition, there have been 42 least terns and 75 black skimmers.

OLD BUSINESS –  Big Pass Dredging:

Catherine Luckner reported that since December of 2013, SKA has not received anything new. On June 11th, however, the last internal review is scheduled to be given to the City, Natural Resources, and to the County Commissioners. In the meantime SKA has been reviewing federal statutes and fighting incorrect information that has appeared on the web. As the Corps of Engineers reveals information, SKA will react. This is a big issue, a county issue. New Pass is an authorized federal good sand source.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding:

Stand-Up Paddleboards cannot go on the public beach where the lifeguards are.

Village Recycling Initiative: 

There will be a new vendor in charge of Siesta Key Village maintenance beginning in August. Village recycling will be a part of the new system.

Next SKA Monthly Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 7th, at 4:30 PM.

Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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