Sarasota City Commission, at-large: Dan Lobeck | sarasota
Why should people vote for you?
I seek to apply my 35 years of local civic advocacy and my skills as an attorney to make a positive difference in the Sarasota City Commission. If elected, I will do my best to put our residents in the driver’s seat, not developers, to shape Sarasota’s growth in a way that preserves and polishes our charm and character rather than creating another overcrowded city whose people try to escape. We also need to direct our resources to real needs, such as clean and safe streets, rather than wasting hundreds of millions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars tearing down our iconic Van Wezel for a new performing arts center at the demand from influential elites. By ditching such wasteful spending, we can also further reduce the city’s tax rate, leaving the money in the pockets of the people who produce it and who need it more and more in these days of rising utility costs. gas, housing, groceries and more. other. We need city commissioners who will serve everyone, not just a select few, who will respond more to their constituents than to their contributors.
What was the tipping point in your decision to run for this position?
Sarasota is at a crossroads. Planning Director Steve Cover announced his plans for a bigger, denser Sarasota with easier development approvals by staff rather than officials, saying we can’t continue to be “N ‘any city, USA’ but instead need a ‘skyline of distinction’ like Chicago with its Sears Tower. I’m calling for the election to advance a different view: that people don’t flock to Sarasota because of buildings that reach skyward and block light, air, and views, crammed together and right against the street. Sarasota is special because of its charm and scale, its arts, history and diversity and will never be transformed into “Any City USA” if we keep and strengthen the values that make us great. I have decided to run with the understanding that whoever is elected to this seat vacated by Hagen Brody may well decide whether a majority of the city commission – or even the four votes needed for certain amendments to the overall plan – will follow the direction of Steve Cover for overdevelopment or instead guide Sarasota’s growth on a more reasonable path. That, and after being asked to run by many people I respect, in civic leadership in Sarasota and elsewhere, who were unhappy with the other candidates for that open seat.
Discuss the goals you have for your term.
First, increase the availability of truly affordable housing, with inclusive zoning in return for any increase in development, by setting the affordability standard low enough and considering an affordable housing impact levy to build affordable housing by the through public-private partnerships, as well as measures to help keep people in their current homes. Second, defeat or reverse the current reckless proposals for overdevelopment in the city. Third, end the long practice of staff deciding policy – usually on behalf of development interests – through behind-the-scenes lobbying of city commissioners, which violates the state’s Sunshine Law; elected leaders must lead and not let the tails wag the dog. And much more is needed, on street cleaning, homelessness, public safety, the environment, parking, road improvements, fiscal responsibility and other areas of ongoing concern. And then, the second day…
Was there a decision made by the current board that you would have changed had you had the opportunity?
Yes: the recent agreement with the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation, by a 3-2 vote, to replace the Van Wezel with a new, larger facility, at a cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that the city did not have . The premise that ticket sales will pay for it is an easily demonstrated fraud, to avoid having to get voters to approve a tax liability. Under current wording, the new facility could be partially built, and if pledged donations for half the construction costs predictably dry up, the city will have no choice but to hit taxpayers even harder. The agreement also condemns the iconic Van Wezel to demolition by prohibiting its use for the performing arts while requiring that any use pay all installation costs. The City has a way out if it sticks to reasonable terms in the implementation agreement required by the original agreement, which allows for its termination in the event of an impasse. If the developers believe the taxpayers want a new performing arts center, let them vote for it and the tax liability to pay for it, and keep the Van Wezel as a second, smaller venue, like it does in Tampa and in other cities.
What kind of city should Sarasota be?
Sarasota should be the kind of city it is today, but improved. We should not aspire to be another Ft. Lauderdale or Chicago, but should strive to be Sarasota Plus. We are distinguished by our size and charm, our natural surroundings, the arts, historic buildings, our cultural and culinary diversity and simply being free to breathe and enjoy the best place on earth to live, visit and do Business. Let’s preserve what’s special in our community and work to make what can be best the best we can.
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