Venice residents came out last night for the April CONA meeting, titled “The Future of Venice: Charming or Choked?” It was standing room only in the Venice Public Library meeting room. We stopped counting at 100, and a number of people chose not to stay because there were no more seats.
Those who attended are clear in their desire for development that respects the environment, flooding risks, quality of life, and their wallets. We heard great speakers: Kevin Barton from the Venice Wildlife Center, Julie Morris from the Wildlands Conservancy, and Shannon Thinnes, who lives along the river in the rural area being considered for a high density rezone at the request of Pat Neal
These local experts shared how the rural nature of the area will be negatively impacted by the proposed increase in housing in the area. Flooding risks will increase – placing lives and property at risk, and likely increasing insurance costs for residents. Sensitive wildlife and water recharge areas will be negatively impacted. Once ruined, how do we regain wildlife corridors and natural habitat? Current residents living in the area at Border and Jackson Roads bought property to ensure a rural lifestyle. What about their investment?
Why is Venice City Council contemplating a rezone? Is there a shortage of housing?
Far from it. Sarasota County has a glut of total potential housing units. In 2010, County analysis shows roughly 45,000 potential new housing units vs. projected demand 10 year demand for 15,000 units. That’s three times projected ten year demand. (Click once on the graphic below to show detail)
Points to consider:
- That 45,000 potential housing number doesn’t include the incorporated areas – our cities. North Port and the City of Sarasota add 70,000 and 10,000 units respectively. We don’t have the numbers for Venice and Longboat – they obviously add more.
- The majority of these units are inside the USB, or urban service boundary, where we already have infrastructure investments. Roads, sewer, police, fire, schools – these are big ticket items. The upfront costs are nothing compared to the long term maintenance, salaries, pensions and benefits required. These costs are long term budget busters. We need to focus growth where we already have infrastructure investment. Adding to our infrastructure obligations is crazy.
- That projected ten year household demand (dated 2010) has to be absorbed by the whole market – not just new housing. As it is, potential new housing (with zero new approvals) is 3 times demand. But what about resales? What about all the people who want to sell their house? Approving surplus building depresses the value of existing homes. Foolish local government planning policy creates blighted neighborhoods, destroying the wealth of citizens.
- US Census data for Sarasota County indicates projected household demand through 2030 to be about 19,000 households. So don’t let elected officials tell you this picture will change anytime soon. Rezones and dismantling 2050 to facilitate faux “growth” is a long term loser for Sarasota County.
The truth is the most incessant local lobbyists – Pat Neal among them – are clinging to a broken development business model which does not serve our community. Greenfield development is what they do: build on undeveloped land and get local officials to ease or eliminate any assessments for infrastructure. Then the community is saddled with long term financial obligations for surplus infrastructure maintenance, salaries, pension and benefits. What this community needs is effective infill and redevelopment, where we already have infrastructure investments. Looking up and down US 41 anyone can see it.