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The Anti-Growth Faction Is Alive and ...? - Winter 2017

Sarasota is not unfamiliar with anti-growth sentiments.

Sarasota is not unfamiliar with anti-growth sentiments. During the economic boom of the 1980s, a group named GEO formed to try and stifle development in Sarasota County. Today, one of its founders remains an outspoken advocate of hampering growth. A decade ago, Save Our Sarasota attempted to handcuff projects that were viewed as rampant and were contributing to traffic increases and a perceived erosion of the city’s quality of life. Today we are witnessing the gelling of a new anti-growth group, STOP!. Unlike previous no-growth incarnations, however, the latest movement counts among its members city commissioners and Sarasota Planning Board members – two bodies that have considerable sway over what is allowed to be built, despite the existence of the early 2000s zoning code that was intended to inject “predictability” into the development process for builders and citizens alike. It remains too early to say whether the current slate of anti-growth proponents will succeed in impeding market forces. We contend that those citizens who might be upset at the abundance of development in Sarasota should focus their efforts on tweaking the city’s zoning code through the democratic process for the benefit of all residents and visitors, rather than just railing at perceived increases in congestion and the number of construction cranes dotting the skyline.