Archives January, 2008


The Upside of the Downside

If the cloud that has rained woe on the region’s real estate market has any sort of silver lining, it’s this: The slowed pace of the market allows us to stand back, catch our breath, and build genuine consensus on where we need to go next as a community committed to responsible development where growth is inevitable.

Finding that sort of consensus in a community still wincing from its most recent growing pains can be an elusive proposition, especially when there are so many opposing voices attempting to rule the day. Too often of late, attempts to arrive at a harmonious vision for growth and redevelopment have dissolved into bitter and contentions discourse when one side or another digs in its heels and refuses to budge. That’s why we agree with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune when it thoughtfully pleads for new ways to conduct the public dialogue that will result in constructive change with unanimity of purpose.

We applaud and support the newspaper’s appeal for neighborhoods, developers and the community to refrain from business as usual and go forward engaging in civil and constructive discussions that create a shared vision. Their appeal has already elicited the first in what we hope will be many “charrettes,” a process of open workshops that focuses on what the broadest swath of citizens want in their community, rather than simply acting as a venue for special interests to openly war with one another.

The first charrette will be a three-day affair designed to build consensus in the community for the scope of redevelopment at an abandoned warehouse tract on School Avenue in Sarasota, across from the new Payne Park. But we see the process working on many different fronts in such a dynamic and changing community. For example, a charrette could empower one of our performing arts organizations to proactively assess the pulse of the community with respect to program preferences. It was a charrette, in fact, that finally persuaded many of those who opposed the new Ringling Bridge to do a major about-face and embrace the project. Clearly, the results of building consensus can be as stunning as the sleek new bridge.

The School Avenue Charrette will be the next laboratory for building broad-based public consensus on an important land-use issue. Every contributing voice—and we hope there will be many—will add a building block to the shared vision of how a new residential community along the Avenue’s eastern boundary will reshape the dilapidated warehouse properties, that now occupy the site, while best articulating with Payne Park and the neighborhoods surrounding it. The event will be facilitated by EDAW, Inc., one of the world’s leading architecture and design firms that specializes in building such community-wide consensus on important land-use issues. We encourage all interested citizens to attend, observe the proceedings and add as many voices as possible to the process of constructive change. For more information about the School Avenue Charrette, and a complete schedule of the three-day session, visit

Growth in Florida is inevitable. Contentious dialogue need not be. Kudos to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for advocating for more inclusive public dialogues and insisting on a change in their tone and tenor. We add our voice to their plea for more civility in our civil discourse.




Frequently Asked Questions on Amendment 1

There have been many questions and concerns about Amendment 1 and what it means to each individual. We provide these FAQs in the hopes that we may help further everyone’s understanding of the amendment.

To view frequently asked questions about the proposed constitutional amendment for property tax reform, please click HERE

To view an informative video click HERE

Just Say “Yes” To Property Tax Relief

Voter approval of the property tax relief proposed in Amendment 1—on January 29th’s statewide ballot—does NOT mean that efforts to find incremental property tax relief will cease once these measures go into effect. While Amendment 1 may not be the perfect panacea for runaway property taxes, it is a good first step toward meatier measures to reduce the tax burden on Florida’s homeowners. Even as we fully support passage of Amendment 1 we will also endorse better legislation when it comes our way.

In the meantime, do we veto immediate tax relief in favor of no tax relief at all while we await further proposals? Of course not. That’s why we encourage you to show up on Election Day and vote “Yes” in favor of Amendment 1. It’s an immediate step in the right direction and could help loosen the stranglehold that excessive property taxation is having on our local economy.

Property taxes have doubled in the past six years, far outpacing the annual income growth of the average household. By voting “Yes” on Amendment 1 you are signaling your support for:

· “Portability,” the term given to the ability of homeowners to transfer their Save Our Homes benefit—up to $500,000—to a new homestead if they sold their home in 2007, or later.
· Doubling the homestead exemption from the current $25,000 to $50,000 for most Floridians.
· Providing an assessment growth limitation of ten percent for all non-homesteaded properties. These include 2nd and 3rd homes, as well as commercial real estate.
· Businesses receiving a new $25,000 exemption for “tangible personal property.”

With passage of the amendment, the average Floridian will have the option to comfortably make a housing move. Growing families will be able to upsize; empty nesters can downsize, and business owners will also find relief from rising property values. No one should be locked inside their present homes because of excessive taxation.

Election Day, January 29th, is also Florida’s Presidential Primary Day. If you are registered as an independent voter and unable to participate in the presidential voting, please don’t use this as a reason to stay home from the polls. You can vote on Amendment 1 without voting in the presidential primary.

If you are qualified to vote and will be absent your polling district on Election Day, you—or
someone designated by you—can request an absentee ballot by calling the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections at (941) 861-8618 no later than 5:00 p.m. 6 days prior to the election (Wednesday, January 23rd). You may also send an e-mail request for an absentee ballot to

It’s important to remember that a full 60 percent of the voters must say “Yes” on Amendment 1 for it to succeed. Don’t count on other voters to make that happen. If the vote falls short and the amendment fails, the next such opportunity for constitutional property tax reform won’t occur until November 2008. Then, assuming voters approve a different ballot initiative, it wouldn’t go into effect until the following year. Are you prepared to wait until 2009 for the possibility of tax relief, when you can have some now, and still enjoy the possibility of more later?

Property tax reform is an issue that affects all of us in so many ways. Please vote on January 29th. Failure to do so abdicates one of your most valuable rights as a citizen and allows your valuable opinion to go unnoticed.


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