From the Desk of the
City Manager
September 19, 2014
Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) with cameras, also known as drones, are becoming more common.  It's not unusual now for private individuals to fly them remotely and record video or take photos.  Recently, this drone was spotted hovering at South Lido Beach.  As this new technology emerges, many questions are surfacing about usage, privacy and flight elevation. 

The FAA regulates all American airspace from the ground up, and according to its website www.FAA.Gov, officials currently are formulating proposed drone regulations, policies and standards, and expects to have a proposed rule for small drones (under 55 pounds) later this year.  In 2012, Congress tasked the FAA with developing policies to safely integrate UASs into American airspace by September 2015.

In the meantime, an FAA rule which addresses model aircraft generally is applied to recreational drones, requiring UASs to fly below 400 feet and away from airports.  Using a drone for commercial or law enforcement purposes, though, requires prior approval from the FAA.  In Florida, restrictions have been in place since last year requiring police agencies to obtain a judge's approval to use a surveillance drone. For a more detailed summary of municipal drone regulations click here(Photo Courtesy/


  • The Argus Foundation "Meet the Minds"
    Tues., September 23 - Noon
    Francis Ballroom - 1289 S. Palm Avenue
  • Human Relations Board
    Tues., September 23 - 4 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • A New Beginning II
    Tues., September 23 - 6 p.m.
    Robert L. Taylor Community Complex - 1845 34th Street
  • CRA Advisory Board
    Thurs., September 25 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Arborist I
Facility Maintenance Technician - Janitorial
Rec Attendant
Supervisor - Landscape Maintenance
Supervisor - Public Works, Roads & Bridges
Treatment Plant Operator C 

Homeless & Meters
One of the recommendations from homeless consultant Robert Marbut calls for a public awareness campaign to stop enabling the homeless.  It is estimated that 93 cents of every dollar given to a homeless individual goes toward buying alcohol or drugs.  So, it's more meaningful and effective for citizens to give donations directly to one of the many nonprofit organizations in Sarasota which help the homeless.

Monday afternoon, the City Commission gave the green light to repurpose some of the City's parking meters and turn them into homeless donation stations.  The details still need to be worked out, but a handful of meters could be adopted by nonprofits, and the monies collected would go to those agencies helping the homeless stabilize.

It's important to note that the primary focus of this proposed campaign would not be to raise funds for homeless programs.  Instead, it would be a public awareness campaign, educating people to donate to charities rather than individuals.

At this preliminary stage, we're seeking nonprofit partners to participate in the program and maintain the meters.  Many questions need to be answered.  But, if it becomes a reality we would only use the old fashioned single head meters which accept coins.  We have 25-30 of those in storage some of which could be donated for the campaign.  Also, we would encourage our nonprofit partners to paint them and give them a unique flair --- like the successful "Sarasota Keys" piano project.

Similar homeless initiatives using parking meters are underway in many cities across the country including Orlando, Atlanta, Denver and Nashville.  We'll keep you posted on Sarasota.
In Nashville, Southwest Airlines sponsored this parking meter turned homeless donation station. 

This Week's Items to Know:
Ringling College - Newtown Soundstage   Hollywood's best kept secret, the Ringling College of Art and Design, just upped its already impressive, high tech campus.

At Keating Hall this morning, Ringling College of Art and Design President Dr. Larry Thompson announced the upcoming construction
Dr. Larry Thompson showing where the new soundstage will be constructed in Newtown. 
of a 30,000 square foot professional soundstage and commercial post-production complex on Dr. MLK, Jr. Way between Cocoanut Ave. and Central Ave.

The City, County and private sector collaboration was welcomed by several dignitaries and neighborhood leaders on hand for the announcement.  Embracing the project, Mayor Willie Shaw said, "This is an exciting day for Newtown and Sarasota."  Mayor Shaw added, "We see this as a catalyst to inspire others to develop along the MLK corridor in the great City of Sarasota."

Although the process to complete the design and construction of the
Mayor Willie Shaw welcoming the new 
public-private sector initiative. 
new soundstage will take approximately two years, Ringling College is already planning additions to its curriculum.  The College also is considering opportunities to grow a film production infrastructure in Sarasota.

Dr. Larry Thompson, who once also helped launch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, is already referring to Sarasota as "southeast Hollywood" and called the project a "grand slam for the students, City, County, Newtown and entertainment industry". 

Click here to read Ringling College's official news release announcing the  project.

Congratulations to all involved....and stay tuned.

Economic Development Website:  We unveiled a new website this week which provides comprehensive information about economic development within the city limits.  is a one-stop information resource for anyone considering doing business in Sarasota.  There's information about the City's population, visitors, commercial districts, office and retail vacancy rates, and, state and local incentive programs.  Also, information is posted about the City's form of government, millage rate, bond ratings and downtown projects under construction.  Studies also are readily available, including the recent retail market study which outlines the additional retail and restaurant capacity which can be absorbed throughout four commercial districts over the next five years.
One of the webpages on

This is the kind of valuable resource we need to spur the positive trend we're currently experiencing with our local economy.  Business people anywhere in the world will have access to this detailed information which could prompt them to make formal inquiries about locating here.

Our Downtown Economic Development Coordinator Norm Gollub, who works hand-in-hand with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Improvement District, created this much needed site.  Thank you, Norm -- and we hope this sparks even more interest in our remarkable city.

Street Resurfacing Continues    Our annual street resurfacing project is scheduled to resume, weather permitting, next week with the milling of
Street Milling
Milling recently on Taft Drive.
12th Street between U.S. 301 and Tuttle Ave.  That stretch then will be repaved the following week.

At this time, crews from Superior Asphalt still plan to do some night road work in October along portions of John Ringling Boulevard as well as Boulevard of the Arts.  As the time draws closer and details are available, we'll let you know.  In the meantime, to see a map of streets scheduled to be paved click here.

Youth Anti-Violence Program - City Commission Recognition  A group of school children was recognized by the City Commission Monday night with Certificates of Appreciation for winning an essay contest which was part of a summer youth program.  Coordinated by the Sarasota Police Department and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, "Reach for Change" touched the lives of 600 children at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, Newtown Estates and Roy McBean Boys and Girls Club.

Law enforcement officers visited each facility and hosted a field day where children interacted with the mounted patrol and motorcycle
Reach for Change
SPD Det. Gary McDowell helps a youngster
during the junior SWAT obstacle course. 
patrol, watched K-9 demonstrations, experienced a vehicle roll over simulator, as well as a junior SWAT obstacle course.  SPD Officer Dominic Harris also spoke with the children about being responsible and seeking alternatives to violence.

The program included a voluntary essay contest on the subject "How I Can Improve My World".  90 kids participated with three winners from each recreational facility.  Many of the essays were compelling, addressing serious issues like bullying, drugs, violence and homelessness.  Here are a few excerpts:
  • "I hope they know that fights don't solve anything.  But, in my community they don't know that, and then a fight leads to someone getting shot and killed."  - Trenton Stephens, 12
  • "I want to change the way that children respect others.  I want to change it by having a parenting class for parents.  So that then they know how to make their child behave." - Jordan Lee, 9
  • "I know negativity will always exist but there is always a chance for positivity to have the upper hand."  - Jatavian Peterson, 13


The children penned some thought provoking essays.   


Congratulations to the winners and all the participants.  And, thanks to the SPD and Sheriff's Office for coordinating this program which has blossomed into a much bigger event since its inception last year.  SPD continues to take partnership policing to new levels. 

Reach for Change
Mayor Willie Shaw with participants and organizers of "Reach for Change." 
Blue + You = Movie Night     Save the date!  The Sarasota Police Department will host its third Blue + You free family movie night on Sat., September 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the SPD Headquarters, 2099
'Cars' will be the free featured movie
at the SPD Headquarters on Sept. 27.
Adams Lane.  The Disney Pixar movie 'Cars' will be shown on the side of the building.  There's plenty of room on the adjacent lawn for chairs and blankets.  (Rain date:  Sun., September 28)

To go with the 'Cars' theme, a free car booster seat will be given to the first two dozen booster-sized kids who arrive at the event between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  Certified car seat fitters from Safe Kids will be on hand to properly install and adjust a new seat into a vehicle (which must be at the event).

This fun, family night encourages relaxed interaction between our police officers and residents of all ages, which is one of the building blocks of our partnership policing program. Hope to see you there!

Neighborhood News:  National Public Lands Day     As part of National Public Lands Day, volunteers will help spruce up Arlington Park next weekend.  The park, which is owned by the City of Sarasota and maintained by Sarasota County, will undergo three hours of pruning and weeding, including the removal of invasive plant species.  Fresh mulch also will be spread.  This is a great opportunity to give back to the community and help maintain the park.

The event will take place on Sat., September 27 from 9 a.m. - noon at Arlington Park, 2650 Waldemere Street.  If you're interested in volunteering, click here (then click the calendar listing) to learn more and register online.  

Last year, on National Public Lands Day, over 170,000 people across the nation volunteered their time to plant trees, build trails and bridges, and remove trash and invasive plants. 

Upcoming Events
Heart Walk 
Payne Park
Sat., September 20
6:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Annual Coastal Cleanup 
Local Coastal Areas
Sat., September 20
8 a.m. - Noon
Electrify the Island 
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
Sat., September 20
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

International Day of Peace 
U.S. 41 - 'Unconditional Surrender'
Sun., September 21
5 p.m. - 6 p.m. 

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Friday Fest - Adrian Ray
Fri., Sept. 26 - 5 p.m.
FREE Outdoor Concert

Reminder: Single tickets for the full 2014-15 season are now on sale!  For more information visit
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From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager

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