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SRQ DAILY Oct 3, 2015

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Donors who practice planned, strategic giving often direct their contributions to attractive and preemptive programs and projects, and traditionally, many foundationsí grant cycles only arise one or two times each year and regularly take months to process."

- Roxie Jerde, Community Foundation of Sarasota County
 

[Chamber]  Back To The Future
Kevin Cooper, Kcooper@sarasotachamber.com

Sarasota County is currently updating it’s Comprehensive Plan, a document adopted to provide policy guidance for the development of the community.  This iteration will undoubtedly contain goals and objectives which demonstrate that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Indeed, parts of the County’s first comprehensive plan, titled Apoxsee, contain verbiage that, when viewed freestanding, might just as easily be draft language for the 2016 version of the Plan as it was adopted language in 1980. Consider the following, “(i)n many cases, the cost of land, labor and materials and financing elevate a home’s price above a figure affordable to low- and moderate-income families.  These same costs affect the price of rental housing as well.” Affordable housing remains a problem, but there are a number of challenging conditions that lead to it. Policy will never be able to dictate that Sarasota not be a coastal community, but being a coastal community is oftentimes a sufficient condition for housing affordability issues. Unfortunately, sometimes, conditions which create problems also create benefits. In those cases, communities can find themselves spinning their wheels.

It’s not difficult to find examples like the one above, either. Take, for instance, this excerpt from the transportation chapter of Apoxsee where congestion problems are attributed, alongside population growth, to “seasonal fluctuations in population which have combined to stress the existing system beyond it’s capacity to handle traffic.” It would seem that residents in the 1970s were likewise afflicted by an influx of tourists and part-time residents.  Being a beach community with high-quality ecological, cultural, and other amenities is a sufficient condition for seasonal visitation. Moreover, the economic impact from it is one of the more vital components of the local economy.  

In the introduction to Apoxee, a reader may experience another time warp. Under a section titled “The Growth Issue,” it’s noted that, “(m)any local residents, however, have viewed the rapid development of Sarasota with considerable alarm, and have been concerned that rapid growth, if not properly managed, could result in a decline in the current quality of life.”  Further along, it continues, “(t)hey maintain that if proper planning and implementation does not occur, essential government services would become inadequate and that existing residents would have to pay a disproportionate share of local taxes to support new development.”  Similar concerns were echoed at public workshops during the current update.  Of course, we may take comfort in the fact that, nearly 40 years after they were documented in Apoxsee, new residents still migrate to Sarasota for it’s quality of life and the tax rate is lower than it was 20 years ago.

As the comprehensive plan is updated, it’s important for citizens to note that some of the area’s problems aren’t solely an effect of prior missteps but, rather, they’re sometimes part in parcel to what the community is and oftentimes partially created by elements that also make it great. Granted, that doesn’t absolve the comprehensive plan, and those drafting it, from trying to mitigate those problems. To that point, perhaps the most relevant question for County staff and elected officials to ask is: what will we document today that we never want to write about again?

Kevin Cooper is the vice president for Public Policy and Sarasota Tomorrow Initiatives for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce 

[The Way I See It]  Is County Committed to Affordability
,

Three recent headlines from local media publications provided material for this month’s column.

 “Questions Arise on value of local leaders intercity trips” – Sarasota Observer

“Good questions on affordable housing”-Editorial Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“Find ways to make housing affordable”-Editorial Sarasota Herald-Tribune

I have always had concerns about the trips to “model cities” to learn about best practices. Like many others, I don’t see significant evidence of results from earlier visits. Maybe the time has come for Sarasota taxpayers to ask what gains have been made as a result of the last five trips and what we can expect to see implemented following this visit. In so doing our local leaders could make the case for the continuation of these boondoggles at taxpayers’ expense. I suppose it does provide an opportunity for a bonding experience but if it is mainly the same people every time it does lend itself to be better described as a junket. Incidentally, following the Sarasota visit the folks in Louisville are off on their own junket to Portland, Oregon to learn about best practices there. Perhaps it is just “sour grapes” on my part as I never get invited.

With the housing market heating up, the question of housing affordability is rapidly becoming the “soup de jour” as evidenced by the two recent editorials in the Herald-Tribune. It is quite a juxtaposition for Sarasota on the one hand to be ranked No 31 on the list of most livable cities and at the same time a report recently published by Gulf Coast Community Foundation found that Sarasota County does not have enough affordable housing and many workers in the County don’t earn enough to pay for housing. The questions posed by Jon Thaxton are important but by his own admission somewhat tardy.

I have some questions that I would like to add to the list. What are the Foundations plans for the 300 acres that they acquired back in 2005, I believe to provide affordable housing? The location close to I-75 and somewhat mid-county has become over time a viable location for such an effort. Back in ‘05, one could have argued that it was ahead of its time but today it is a different story.

Why does the County on the one hand recognize the affordability issue and at the same time relieve developers of obligations to build affordable housing? If the developers’ modus operandi has changed, should there not be some mitigation for the loss of these units. After all, developers have to mitigate for the loss of trees and wetlands. 

Isn’t there an affordability component of the 2050 plan? Was this not seriously considered in the recent revision?

Was an opportunity lost by the County to use monies from the CRA, if renewed, for workforce housing as allowed by State Statue?   

One has to question the County’s commitment to this effort, or is it just politics as usual?

One developer not backing away from their obligations is Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the master developer of Lakewood Ranch. They anticipate construction of more than 2,000 Community/Affordable housing units as part of the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South development, which is due to start the first quarter of next year in Sarasota County. With the average price of a house in Lakewood Ranch creeping over $500,000, SMR sees this affordability option as vital for the continued success of the Ranch as it strives to be the numero uno community in the country to live, work and play.  

That’s the way I see it.

Ian Black is the founder of Ian Black Real Estate 

[Community]  Making an Immediate Impact
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

In life we are often cautioned to “expect the unexpected,” and philanthropy is no different. Leaders of nonprofit organizations often have to make hard decisions about whether to temporarily defer funding from the core programs helping people directly in order to cover the cost of an unexpected expense essential to their operations.

Fixing a broken air-conditioning unit may mean that 60 students from low-income households won’t get the academic support they need that year. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase new medical equipment at a vast discount may have a short-term cost of preventing 200 clinic patients from receiving the medical coverage they need at the moment. The expenses associated with capital upgrades to an animal shelter could prevent intake of additional animals for many months. These long-term investments have short-term consequences, and the immediate implications can cause heartache to clients, staff and volunteers.

It can be challenging to find dollars for reactive solutions. Donors who practice planned, strategic giving often direct their contributions to attractive and preemptive programs and projects, and traditionally, many foundations’ grant cycles only arise one or two times each year and regularly take months to process.

After recognizing these obstacles, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County established a streamlined Immediate Impact Grant Process in 2012, open to organizations with updated profiles in The Giving Partner, our community’s online knowledge base of local nonprofits. At any time throughout the year, these nonprofits can request up to $5,000 for an immediate need. An advisory committee—including Community Foundation staff members and one community member—meets monthly to review applications. If approved for full or partial funding, the grant may be distributed within a few weeks.

What expedites the process is that these organizations have already made a commitment to transparency by sharing in-depth information about their governance, financials, programs and planning documents in The Giving Partner. The committee uses these profiles to determine whether the Immediate Impact Grant will be a good investment. By evaluating the nature, urgency and severity of the request, as well as the organization’s accountability, the process filters requests for recurring expenses that should already be part of an organization’s planned operations such as salary expenditures.

Over the last three years, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has funded close to $900,000 through the Immediate Impact Grants process, so that the unexpected obstacles that organizations experience don’t halt the important work they do in our region. Finishing the rehearsal floor at The Players Theatre, providing a much needed server upgrade at the Manatee County Girls Club, and purchasing new medical equipment for the Good Samaritan Pharmacy clinic are just a few of these important fulfilled needs.

If you are one of the thousands of charitable citizens in our community, you can probably relate to the feeling of excitement associated with funding a new program or special initiative—these are valuable investments. However, we also encourage you not to overlook the value of guiding your donation to immediate needs for long-standing programs that have proven results in our community. They can go a long way in reinforcing the resilience of people being the one to make an immediate positive impact.

Roxie Jerde is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County 



[TONIGHT]  SRQ Bal Masque

This Saturday October 3, venture into the garden for a stunning evening of mystery and Southern Gothic intrigue at SRQ's second annual masquerade gala, Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Guests will don their most elegant formal attire and mysterious masks to be transported to the magical ambiance of the garden. Filled with hauntingly beautiful musical performances, aerialists dazzling from the vaulted ceilings, dancers lighting up the stage and sparkling superlative fashion delighting the senses. Delicious savory bites and amuse bouche alongside creative cocktails. 

SRQ Bal Masque

[SOON]  Mark Wandall Foundation Annual Memorial Weekend

The Mark Wandall Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides support and assistance to grieving children who have lost a family member or guardian. Through partnerships with Comfort Zone Camp, Children First of Sarasota and a college scholarship program, the organization transforms a childs broken spirit into a beautiful spark that will light the way to a happy, healthy and optimistic future. Don't miss the foundation's upcoming Annual Memorial Weekend. The weekend kicks off Fridayevening Novmber 6 at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing for a cocktail hour and silent auction followed by a more formal dinner and entertainment. The fun continues Saturday morning November 7 with a Golf Tournament at Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch.

  

The Mark Wandall Foundation

[SOON]  National Philanthropy Day

National Philanthropy Day (NPD) is a time-honored tradition that is celebrated across the United States as a way for all communities to recognize the impact philanthropists make. The Association of Fundraising Professionals Southwest Florida Chapter invites you to join them on Tuesday, November 10 to celebrate the generosity of individuals and organizations in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.  

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Southwest Florida Chapter

[KUDOS]  Dolly Jacobs Receives National Heritage Fellowship

Sarasota's own international circus legend, Dolly Jacobs has received a National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts  in Washington, D.C. This is the first time a circus performer has ever received this distinguished award, and it highlights the mission of The Circus Arts Conservatory to raise the perception of the circus as a valuable form of art. The two-day celebration began on October 1 in the Library of Congress when NEA Chairman Jane Chu presented the 2015 awards to Dolly and the other honorees. On Friday, October 2,  a prestigious National Heritage Fellowships Concert in Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University featured Dolly performing her aerial act as well as other Heritage Fellowship Award artists 

Circus Arts Conservatory

[SOON]  "An Evening with Elizabeth Smart"

The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Join Selah Freedom in welcoming Elizabeth Smart on October 14 from 4-6pm at the Sudokoff Auditorium at New College to hear her moving story and learn how Selah Freedom is confronting sex trafficking in our own community. 

Selah Freedom

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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