From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
September 25, 2015
You don't have to travel very far to see construction in Sarasota, whether it's small residential improvements or a large scale commercial development like this one in the Rosemary District called Cityside.  And, those construction projects require a variety of building permits.  We're celebrating our hard working staff in the Building Division after they recently set a significant record.  For the first time ever, over 8,000 building permits have been processed in the City of Sarasota in one fiscal year (and the year isn't over yet).  More on this banner year below in Weekly Briefs.   


  • Board of Adjustment
    Wed., September 30 - 1:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • CRA Advisory Board
    Thurs., October 1 - 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 II
Facility Maintenance Technician
Irrigation Tech
Parking Enforcement Specialist
Police Officer, 2nd Class
Procurement Specialist III
                                    Rec Attendant                                     
Traffic Signal Tech I   

This Week's Items to Know:
Building Permits - Another Record Year    The Building Division reached a significant milestone last week when it processed 8,000 building permits for the first time ever in a single fiscal year --- and  the fiscal year doesn't end until September 30th.  This is impressive and meaningful on many fronts.

It's a strong indicator that our local economy is continuing to grow and people want to invest and live in our special community. Building permits are necessary for new residential and commercial
The Building Division marking their milestone with a celebratory cake and congratulations from Director Tim Litchet.

construction as well as home improvements.  Permits run the gamut from a yard fence to roofing to air conditioning.   (So far, the most common permit pulled this year is a tie:  AC and plumbing followed closely by re-roofing residential homes.)  94 permits also were issued for new single family residential homes, which, when considering Sarasota is a built-out city, is a large number.  The total construction value for the 8,000+ permits is over $299 million.

This is good news for those interested in doing business in Sarasota.  We're seeing a mix of large scale projects (including hotels and condos) as well as a variety of residential developments (with particular interest in building more affordable multi-family units in the Rosemary District close to the colleges and downtown dining) -- and that is a plus for businesses looking to grow or relocate to Sarasota.

Back Row - L to R:  Brieana Duckett Graves, MaryBeth Gripshover, Joyce Williams, Shelley Moore, Paula Mello;  Front Row - L to R:  Robin Opalinsky, Debbie Lapenkas, Kathleen Kelley 
Throughout this unprecedented year, customer satisfaction with the Building Division has remained high.  Customers are asked to voluntarily complete a customer response card after their transaction, and staff continues to receive positive comments about their friendliness, knowledge, efficiency and professionalism.  The most recent customer responses from July-August show that 96% of respondents had an excellent experience.  To read these recent customer response cards click here.

Processing over 8,000 permits in one year is indeed an impressive accomplishment and to do so in a courteous and knowledgeable manner speaks volumes about the professionalism in the Building Division within the Neighborhood and Development Services Department led by Tim Litchet.  Congratulations --- and, well done!     

Bobby Jones - Summer Sale Ends 9/30   As departments throughout the City prepare to close out for this fiscal year, Bobby Jones Golf Shop is offering a close-out sale!

The Summer Sale runs through next Wed., Sept. 30 (the end of the fiscal year).  That means you can save on those Bobby Jones logo items you've wanted -- like shirts, hats, golf balls etc.  Regular priced merchandise with the coveted Bobby Jones logo is 20% off through Sept. 30.  If you're in the market for bargains on Bobby Jones items, stop by the Golf Shop at 1000 Circus Blvd.

Selby Five Points Park - Snowballs for Sale 9/26     The City Commission recently endorsed the idea of activating Selby Five Points Park with a vendor on a trial basis, with the possibility of that
The Baltimore Snowball Factory plans to be on the road at Selby Five Points Park on Sept. 26.

vendor being a business directly impacted by the temporary closure of the Orange Ave./Main  St. intersection.

The owner of the Baltimore Snowball Factory took us up on the offer of a special permit and plans to sell his icy cold treats at the park Sat., September 26 from 11 a.m.- 4 or 5 p.m.  The Public Works Department will set up tables and chairs, so you can enjoy a respite at the park.

Trees - Information Available     We love the tree canopy in Sarasota and the City Commission wants to ensure reasonable steps are being taken to protect it.  While the City does have a tree ordinance, after talking with residents, we realized there were some noticeable gaps that could be remedied fairly easily.

First, the City now has a separate webpage dedicated solely to tree protection.  When you're on, it's located on the Neighborhood and Development Services page (under 'Departments') -- or just click here.  On the page, you can search for a tree permit by street address or permit number.  Tree permit posting requirements also are listed, plus a link to the City's tree ordinance.
A tree lined street in the Gillespie Park neighborhood. 
With suspected illegal tree removals occurring on the weekend, an after-hours telephone number was established so the public can speak to a City employee and report the activity.  The after-hours contact number is:  941-894-2931 or 941-894-2967.

Understanding the concerns with trees being cut down during non-business hours, the City Commission approved the necessary funding to hire a code compliance officer to handle tree issues, including on the weekend. The new fiscal year begins next week and we hope to have that needed position filled soon.

And, lastly, the City Commission gave staff approval to begin working on a proposed zoning text amendment to update the tree ordinance.  While there are many good aspects to the current ordinance, it has not been updated since it was approved 10 years ago and some modernization would be beneficial.  We look forward to working with residents devising the appropriate language to provide continued protection to our precious tree canopy.

Sarasota = Storm ReadyŽ City     Our efforts to be better prepared for a potentially dangerous storm, through increased awareness and education, have been recognized by the National Weather Service Storm ReadyŽ program.   The City's Emergency Manager, Todd Kerkering, coordinated with the local National Weather Service to meet many criteria to obtain this certification.  Some of the requirements included:  having an established emergency operations center, various methods to receive and disseminate weather warnings to the community, multiple ways to monitor local weather conditions, having a hazardous weather action plan with weather spotter training and drills, and promoting the importance of being storm ready to the public.

A formal presentation was made to the City Commission Monday night and by the next day the City of Sarasota was featured on the National Weather Service Storm ReadyŽ website.  Being Storm ReadyŽ is voluntary and Sarasota is just the 23rd city in Florida to achieve this certification. 
L to R:  Daniel Noah, National Weather Service; Commissioner Liz Alpert; Mayor Willie Shaw; Todd Kerkering, Emergency Manager; Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell; Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie; Commissioner Susan Chapman

While we've made it through the height of hurricane season without any storms in our area so far, we cannot take preparedness and education for granted.  We appreciate Todd's willingness to take the extra steps necessary to make our community Storm ReadyŽ.           

Upcoming Events 

Flip Flop Walk For Autism
J.D. Hamel Park & Ringling Bridge 
Sat., September 26
8 a.m. - 11 a.m. 

Life Without Lupus Walk

Payne Park
Sat., September 26
8 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  Mystical Bazaar
Municipal Auditorium
Sat., September 26
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Folk Dancers 
Bayfront Community Center
Wed., September 30
7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Coffee with a Cop 
McDonald's - 787 S. Washington Blvd.
Wed., September 30
9:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Senior Ballroom Dancing
Bayfront Community Center
Thurs., October 1
10 a.m. - Noon

Scottish Dancers 
Bayfront Community Center
Thurs., October 1
7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.  

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 
Van Wezel Interior

The following is a list of shows through February 2016.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit 

John Cleese and Eric Idle
Thurs., October 1 - 7:30 p.m.
Fri., October 2 - 7:30 p.m.

Shen Yun Orchestra 
All Hands On Deck will be at the Van Wezel on Nov. 4.
Tues., October 13 - 7:30 p.m. 

Beauty and the Beast
Wed., October 14 - 7:30 p.m.

Rick Springfield
Thurs., October 15 - 8 p.m.

The Ultimate Doo Wop Show
Sat., October 24 - 8 p.m.

So You Think You Can Dance
Thurs., October 29 - 8 p.m.

All Hands On Deck
Wed., November 4 - 8 p.m.

America's Got Talent Live:  The All-Stars Tour!
Thurs., November 5 - 8 p.m.

Wed., November 11 - 8 p.m.

Lewis Black:  The Rant is Due:  Part Deux
Fri., November 13 - 8 p.m.

Cirque Dreams ~ Holidaze
Sat., November 14 - 8 p.m.

Straight No Chaser
Yes will perform
Nov. 11.

Thurs., November 19 - 8 p.m.

Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Sat., November 21 - 8 p.m.

Dave Koz Christmas Tour 2015
Fri., November 27 - 8 p.m.

Craig Ferguson:  The New Deal Tour
Tues., December 1 - 8 p.m.

Daryl Hall & John Oates
Wed., December 2 - 8 p.m.

Kenny G 
Thurs., December 3 - 8 p.m.

Women of Ireland ~ Celtic Angels' Christmas 
Thurs., December 10 - 8 p.m.

Carrot Top 
Sat., December 12 - 8 p.m.

Bowzer's Rock & Roll Holiday Party 
Sun., December 13 - 7 p.m.

A Christmas Carol 
Wed., December 23 - 7 p.m.

Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker

Mon., December 28 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

The Producers
Wed., December 30 - 8 p.m.

The Ten Tenors
Thurs., December 31 - 8 p.m.
Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert
Sun., January 3, 2016 - 7 p.m.

Masters of Illusion - Believe the Impossible
Thurs., February 4, 2016 - 7:30 p.m.

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
Tues., January 5, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Wed., January 6, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Air Supply will be at the
Van Wezel on Jan. 16. 

Black Violin
Tues., January 12, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Jim Witter - The Piano Men II
Wed., January 13, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Catskills on Broadway
Thurs., January 14, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Lisa Lampanelli
Fri., January 15, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Air Supply
Sat., January 16, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Paul Anka
Sun., January 17, 2016 - 8 p.m.

DL Hughley
Mon., January 18, 2016 - 8 p.m.

42nd Street
Wed., January 20, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Paul Anka will perform on
Jan. 17. 

Thurs., January 21, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Wynonna & The Big Noise: Stories & Song
Sun., January 24, 2016 - 8 p.m.

ABBA Mania
Mon., January 25, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Renee Fleming with the Sarasota Orchestra
Wed., January 27, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Dancing With The Stars:  LIVE!
Fri., January 29, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Joshua Bell
Sat., January 30, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Tues., February 2 - 8 p.m.

Masters of Illusion - Believe the Impossible
Thurs., February 4 - 7:30 p.m.
The Book of Mormon will be at the Van Wezel Feb. 9-14.

The Book of Mormon
February 9 - 12, 2016:  8 p.m.
Sat., February 13, 2016:  2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Sun., February 14, 2016:  1:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Neil Berg's 107 Years of Broadway
Wed., February 17, 2016 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Michael Feinstein and his 17-Piece Band
Thurs., February 18, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Patti LaBelle
Tues., February 23, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Moscow Festival Ballet - Cinderella
Wed., February 24, 2016 - 8 p.m.

The Beach Boys
Thurs., February 25, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Vince Gill & Lyle Lovett
Fri., February 26, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Kristin Chenoweth
Sat., February 27, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Josh Groban
Sun., February 28 - 8 p.m.

To purchase tickets over the phone call 941-953-3368 or stop by the Box Office at 777 N.Tamiami Trail. 

For a complete schedule of events, visit

We're taking a respite for the next couple of weeks.  Weekly Briefs will return on October 16. 

Thanks for reading this week's edition.  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at

Tom Barwin
City Manager