STOP! Reveals What It Was Really All About

Guest Correspondence

We all knew it was a ruse. It was pretty clear from their name alone that STOP! was not about making development better, but rather creating economic uncertainty to throw up the proverbial gate after they passed through it to end economic progress in Sarasota. 

Translation: It was all about administrative review process and their control of private property rights of others.

The recent announcement that STOP! is folding up shop sheds a bright light on what has happened, and what we are about to see moving forward.

On their website, STOP! leaders claimed they were concerned with “looming buildings and narrow sidewalks that negatively impact traffic congestion, pedestrian safety and walkability.” 

In June, the Sarasota City Commission voted to bring back specific zoning changes (related to these issues) but specifically excluded tampering with the administrative review process. So now, after three years, one would think STOP! would engage and see these important issues through, right? 

Wrong. They decided to dissolve over the issue of administrative review. 

You see, it was never really about sidewalks and setbacks, it was never really about walkability. It was about control. 

It was about subjecting property owners to onerous processes, it was about ending certainty in economic investments in downtown for property owners, it was about stopping the building of some of the very buildings some of them had lived in because they want to freeze Sarasota in time. 

It was about doing what they wanted and not about creating a vibrant Sarasota with all of the things they claimed they wanted on their website.

So what is coming? I predict a political run by some of their own.

If anyone has been watching the Planning Commission closely, they have seen STOP! members who hold seats on the Planning Commission attack the City Commission and city staff on a regular basis when they disagree with them. 

With impartiality blatantly having left the room, some of those same individuals are inappropriately calling for the replacement of City Commissioners who did not do their bidding.

It’s wildly inappropriate and not a soul believes they can get fairness in front of the Planning Commission anymore. Watch the passive-aggressive interrogations, the sarcastic comments and the unrealistic scheduling meant to maximize the amount of money an applicant has to spend. It’s indefensible.

You will see more of this until the City Commission decides to end the circus or there are finally resignations to run for city commission. 

Why? Because it’s not about walkability and transportation. It’s about control.  

Christine Robinson is the executive director for The Argus Foundation.


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