From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
September 6, 2019
Sarasota was thankfully spared the wrath of Hurricane Dorian this week, but there were still windy conditions at Lido Beach, prompting Sarasota County lifeguards to raise yellow warning flags indicating a medium hazard from moderate surf and/or currents. Beachgoers should always swim near staffed lifeguard stations and heed their warnings, especially those regarding dangerous rip currents in the Gulf. Read more about hurricane preparedness below in this week's briefs!

  • Citizens with Disabilities Advisory Board
    Monday, Sept. 9 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Community Workshop
    Monday, Sept. 9 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • City Commission Special Meeting
    Monday, Sept. 9 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Historic Preservation Board
    Tuesday, Sept. 10 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • St. Armands BID
    Wednesday, Sept. 11 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Tree Advisory Committee
    Wednesday, Sept. 11 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Planning Board
    Wednesday, Sept. 11 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Police Officers' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Friday, Sept. 13 - 8:15 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

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This Week's Items to Know:

Hurricane Preparedness - Citizens   Sarasotans breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week as Hurricane Dorian, at one time a powerful Category 5 storm churning in the Atlantic Ocean, avoided our area and swept northward. But now is no time to become complacent - we're still in the peak of hurricane season, which doesn't officially end until Nov. 30. The devastation wrought by Dorian in the Bahamas is yet another reminder of the importance of enforcing modern building codes, practicing emergency preparedness and effectively addressing climate change.

If you rushed to prepare for possible impacts from this storm, now is a great time to pause, review and firm up your emergency preparedness plans. If another hurricane threatens us, where will you and your loved ones go? 

Emergency management officials remind us that you don't necessarily have to evacuate hundreds of miles away. If you live in a newer home built to the latest Florida Building Code standards and outside of the lowest elevation levels - or if you can stay with friends or family nearby who do - that may be a safe option. Evacuation centers should be viewed as a last resort and  should not be counted on to provide much more than physical shelter.

Do you have enough food and supplies to last seven days - possibly without power? Are you stocked up on water and non-perishable food items that can be saved for the remainder of hurricane season? Did you fill sandbags to protect your home? If they haven't been contaminated with storm water, they can be stored in a dry place and used the next time a storm threatens (do not return the sand to playgrounds, sandboxes or our beaches). 

It's critical that all citizens play their part in making our special city as storm-ready and resilient as possible when disaster threatens.  
Hurricane Preparation - City of Sarasota    Just as residents must be prepared for natural disasters, so too must local governments. Our City departments, armed with guidance from Emergency Manager Todd Kerkering and best practices from around the country, have developed detailed preparedness and continuity of operations plans for all hazards. 

The City's Emergency Operations Center was activated and monitoring Dorian days before it made its way toward Florida's east coast. We were in continuous communication with partnering agencies, including Sarasota County and the National Weather Service, and adjusting our course of action based on the latest storm projections. 

Employees from various City departments and divisions, including Parks and Recreation, Public Works and our building inspectors, were deployed to take preventative actions to protect City property, public infrastructure and our citizens ahead of any potential storm impacts. And still more employees were on call and ready to be activated in the event that Dorian took a turn toward Sarasota and they were needed to fulfill their emergency duties. 

Members of our workforce are specially trained in the Incident Command System, a  standardized approach to the command , control, and coordination of emergency response that allows multiple agencies to be more effective, and they understand their specialized roles in the event the City team is fully activated.

We take our responsibility as protectors of the public's health, safety and welfare seriously, and you can rest assured this team and our community is prepared for whatever Mother Nature may send our way.

Downtown Paid Parking - Update   It's been just about two months since the new downtown paid parking program was implemented, and users are becoming acclimated to the new system.

Our Parking Division reports it has already processed a total of nearly 44,000 transactions either by mobile phone or at the new pay stations installed on Main Street and portions of Ringling Boulevard and Palm Avenue. Almost one-third of those transactions (about 32 percent) were by smartphone users via the ParkMobile app

About $78,000 in parking revenue has already been generated since the first section of downtown pay stations was activated on July 8. Those are encouraging numbers, since the revenue collected from paid parking will go toward parking garage maintenance, Parking Division operations and eliminate the need for the division's annual subsidy that was previously taken from taxpayer dollars in the general fund.

We're pleased with how the new system is working so far. The limited number of downtown paid parking spaces have been busy during peak periods of the day, but we've still observed a handful of open spots, providing more turnover and the prime accessibility that some motorists need or desire. And best of all, our conveniently located  parking garages remain free for two hours and make up the 88 percent of all downtown parking spaces that are available at no charge , so visitors have many options available. 
For those who do choose to pay to park, they're finding the new pay stations are as easy to use as an ATM. Our staff have continued to refine the on-screen prompts and improve the accompanying signage to make the experience as quick and seamless as possible. If you haven't yet tried them, you should know that you can pay at any pay station, not just the one closest to your parking spot - just snap a photo of your license plate number with your phone so that you can enter it when prompted. 

You can also skip the pay stations altogether and use the ParkMobile app to pay to park with your phone. You can download and set up the app ahead of time and simply enter the zone number once you've parked, making the process a breeze. Here's a helpful tutorial from the company on getting started:
ParkMobile App: Account Set Up
ParkMobile App: Account Set Up
Have further questions about the City's parking program? View the helpful FAQs available on our website, or email

Roundabout Art - Final Selections   The City Commission this week approved the two sculptures recommended by the Public Art Committee for placement at the roundabouts currently under construction at U.S. 41 and 10th and 14th streets.

The final selections - "Life in the Seagrass" by Casto Solano (10th Street) and "Poly" by Nancy Hou (14th Street) - were chosen from among 114 submissions made during an international Call to Artists for sculpture proposals. 

"Life in the Seagrass" by Casto Solano

"Poly" by Nancy Hou

The sculptures will be paid for by developers' contributions to the City's Public Art Fund, and no taxpayer dollars are used. The two pieces will be reviewed by the Florida Department of Transportation, which maintains U.S. 41, to ensure that they comply with safety standards.

We look forward to our city being even further enhanced and beautified with more public art once the roundabouts are completed in 2020!

Van Wezel:  Subscriptions on Sale Now! 

To view the full Van Wezel season, visit
Friday Fest - Ari and the Alibis 
Fri., September 20 - 5 p.m.
FREE Event

Once:  The Musical 
Wed., October 9
Neil Berg's 50 Years of Rock & Roll:  Part III 
Fri., November 1
Roy Orbison & Buddy Holly - The Rock 'N' Roll Dream Tour 
Mon., November 4 
Dwight Yoakam 
Sat., November 16
Straight No Chaser:  The Open Bar Tour 
Sun., November 17
Latin History for Morons 
Tues., November 19
Cirque Dreams Holidaze 
Fri., November 22
Sat., November 23
Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2019 
Fri., November 29
Sebastian Maniscalco:  You Bother Me 
Sat., November 30
The Book of Mormon 
January 7-12, 2020
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons 
Sun., February 9, 2020
Johnny Mathis - The Voice of Romance Tour 
Thurs., April 16, 2020
The Bachelor Live on Stage 
Thurs., May 7, 2020
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

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 CityNews@SarasotaFL.Gov 

Tom Barwin
City Manager