Repairing The World

Guest Correspondence

In between elephant rides, micro-lite flights over Victoria Falls and other unique experiences while on vacation, I was able to give serious thought to this column. On the one hand, an opinion is just that, a personal judgement about an issue. I knew I would lay myself open to criticism and perhaps ridicule. A bit like undressing in public! A good friend, who is politically astute, once told me that politics is a “full contact body sport.” On the other hand my Jewish upbringing has instilled in me the maxim of “Tikun Olam” a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world" or "healing the world" which suggests humanity's shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world. Not that I would be so presumptuous as to suggest that my monthly ramblings would attain such status but my conscience prompted me not to be a “shrinking violet” and take up the challenge that had come my way.

Here I am fully clothed and somewhat excited by the monthly challenge to be a political observer with strong opinions. Hopefully I can be just that without coming across as “opinionated.”

If I had been writing this column 12-18 months ago I would have been bemoaning the lack of forward momentum emanating from City Hall. What a difference a year makes. Ten years ago as Chairman of the then Downtown Partnership we championed the creation of AROD (Affordable Residential Overlay District).With no political support it died on arrival. Fast forward to today where we are seeing the immediate results of the City Commission’s progressive actions that have resulted in the creation of the ROD (Rosemary Overlay District) which tripled density in the affected area. Recently coined “The Dynamic District” by the SHT’s Business Weekly edition, this has stimulated the proposed development of over 1000 rental apartments with a construction value in excess of $100,000,000. While there are no guarantees that these units will pass the smell test of affordability and assuming that they are all eventually built, it is fair to say that market forces rather that legislative action will be a factor in contributing to attainability with the anticipated addition of 1500 +/- new residents. With all this activity surely the time has come to improve the accessibility from the Rosemary District to Downtown and rename Fruitville to 3rd Street.

Finally I have a confession to make; I have an addiction, to Uber. There appears to be concerns that the ordinance that is coming before the Commission on Tuesday will stop Uber from operating in Sarasota. Au contraire mes amis, it is a sensible regulation that is similar to others that have been adopted in other municipalities across the country and is a timely response by our City to this new industry. It only regulates picking up passengers in the City of Sarasota. Please no Black T shirts. If it is not Uber it will be another TNC that will work within the system. At the end of the day the consumer will be best served by whoever provides the best deal.  

That’s the way I see it.

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