Bad County Math: Supply, Demand and Your House


The Sarasota County Commission and Planning Department are ignoring reality.  It’s all about the numbers.

The County Commission is weakening 2050 standards for development outside Sarasota’s Urban Service Boundary(USB) and at the same time failing to fully inventory existing  housing capacity.  Click on the map graphic below and notice all of the total potential housing in Sarasota County.  The original slide was created by the Sarasota County planning department in 2010.  It notes (in black text) the potential (unbuilt) housing inside and outside the USB.  Inside the USB they counted 34,700 units, outside the USB 10,100 units.  At that time projected household demand was 15,300 units.   They calculated the  ratio of of total potential housing to projected ten year demand as 44,800/15,300 = 293% or about 3:1.

Sarasota County Total Potential Housing Units - Reality

Bad math alert 1: municipality (city) data is not included.  The dark gray portions of the map are Sarasota’s cities.  In the County’s inventory, the cities don’t count.  The County did not gather total potential housing data from the cities of North Port, Sarasota, Venice or Longboat Key.  The household demand figure they used, however is based on US Census data for the WHOLE county.   That 15,300 projected household demand is to be absorbed by the whole County, cities included.  The County Planning Department’s failure to include the municipality potential inventory would have earned a failing grade on a 6th grade ratios and proportions math test.  You don’t take the County total housing demand projection and apply it to a fraction of the County’s potential housing inventory.  You have to apply projected demand for the whole County to potential housing for the whole County.  You have to include the cities.

The blue additions to the map are mine.

I gathered total potential housing numbers from the City of Sarasota and the City of Northport – over 10,400 units and 70,000 units respectively.  I stopped there, because the numbers are so staggering.  Obviously the cities of Venice and Longboat Key add more.

I added updated housing demand for 2015 to 2025.  The County’s website shows the population will increase from about 395,000 to 443,000 from 2015 to 2025, according the US Census data.  Assuming 2.93 people per household (consistent with the County’s projected demand calculation for 2010-2020),  the number of households in Sarasota County will increase from 134,812 to 151,194.  that’s an increase of 16,400 households, or housing units.    Bad math alert 2:  don’t let certain advocates for 2050 changes confuse you by saying projected demand is 46,000-48,000.  They are talking about people, not households.  This misleading claim has occurred in public forums on a number of occasions.

Projected Household Demand

I updated the unincorporated County housing data.  This past spring, the County Commission approved a 9,000 unit housing project outside the USB east of Clark Rd.

When you include the cities and the Clark Rd. project, the total potential housing units in Sarasota County inventory is over 135,000 units.  Projected ten year household demand is 16,400 units.  The ratio?  About eight to one, or 824%.  The real estate market will respond to the real numbers, not Sarasota County’s fiction.  A housing glut hurts home values.

Municipalities with successful growth policies (policies which have generated substantial economic development and high quality of life) – they approve more housing when potential inventory fails to meet projected ten year demand.  In other words, when the ratio of ten year supply to demand is less than 100%, that’s when they add to inventory.

Remember the scene from the movie “My Cousin Vinny”, where Vinny is asking the witness if the laws of physics cease to exist on his stove?  Sarasota County residents should be asking the County Commission and Planning Department why they believe the laws of supply and demand cease to exist in Sarasota County.  It is absolutely insane to commit Sarasota taxpayers to the creation and maintenance of surplus infrastructure to service surplus housing – housing that which competes with and undermines the value of their own neighborhoods.

During last week’s public hearing to approve 2050 changes, one resident told the County Commission their action was a “staggering violation of ethical public service.”  When you look at the numbers, that seems about right.




1 Comment on Bad County Math: Supply, Demand and Your House

  1. It’s always about the “green” and boom or bust. I’ve lived here 42 years, and it hasn’t changed. It seems no one learns from past mistakes. The players may be different, but the game is the same. This pattern goes back to the 1920’s. The more things change, the most they stay the same. Eventually, FL will be another California and no longer a nice place to live. It’s happening already.

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