By Phil Colpas
At the July 12 meeting of the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners, no concerned citizens spoke at a public hearing to consider an ordinance to adopt a privately-initiated amendment relating to parking requirements for the Siesta Key Overlay District — more specifically the south bridge area.
The proposed amendment alters the formula for calculating parking for restaurants and bars in the south bridge area of Siesta Key, and provides credit for the provision of golf cart parking. The proposed ordinance has been deemed by Planning and Development Services staff not to inhibit or obstruct any goals, objectives or policies contained within the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan.
Currently, the parking standard for all restaurants and bars within the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) requires one parking space per 50 square feet of waiting, eating and drinking area.
County staff recommended that the commissioners adopt the new ordinance and approve Unified Development Code Amendment No. 46, which reduces parking requirements to one space per 75 square feet of indoor and outdoor patron area. The proposal also allows credit for “golf cart parking” for an individual commercial business or multi-business plaza, in addition to the bicycle and motorcycle parking credit currently applicable within the SKOD.
This amendment was presented to the Planning Commission on May 5. Discussions ensued as to the definition of a golf cart (size, street legality) and whether parking would be available for use for alternative types of small-wheeled vehicles that are currently in use on the Key, in addition to the overall shortage of parking on the Key and illegal parking on residential side streets.
Based on the discussion, what was originally referred to as “golf cart credit” has been changed to “low speed vehicle (LSV) credit,” and a definition provided. The Planning Commission provided a favorable recommendation of approval. The proposed ordinance has been found to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
In the commercial general/SKOD district within the commercial enclave south of Stickney Point Road (identified as the “south bridge area” under the Siesta Key Community Plan), bar and restaurant parking requirement shall be one parking space per 75 square feet of indoor and outdoor patron floor area. The patron floor area only includes indoor and outdoor square footage used for eating, drinking and waiting areas. This includes all square footage on patios, decks or other outdoor areas of the parcels that are used for eating or drinking or waiting.
A credit of one parking space is permitted per individual commercial business that provides a bicycle parking facility in an accessible on-site location. The bicycle parking facility must comply with county specifications.
A credit of one parking space for every two motorcycle parking spaces is permitted for an individual commercial business, up to a maximum credit of four parking spaces or 25% of the required parking, whichever is greater. All motorcycle parking spaces must be located on-site and be clearly designated as motorcycle parking only. Motorcycle space parking dimensions must meet accepted engineering standards.
Valet parking is allowed in the SKOD subject to county standards. Additionally, queuing of vehicles in the right-of-way for local streets only may be allowed for restaurants and bars on Siesta Key.
A credit of one parking space for every one LSV parking space is permitted for an individual commercial business or multi-business plaza, up to a maximum of four parking spaces or 25% of the required parking, whichever is greater. Each LSV parking space shall measure 6 feet wide and 18 feet deep. A low-speed vehicle (LSV) is defined as a street legal vehicle that has a minimum speed of 20 mph and a maximum speed of 25 mph, and may include golf carts, scooters, scoot coupes, etc.