Reduction in parking requirements proposed for South Bridge area of Siesta Key

·3 min read
The Sarasota County Administration Center.

Proposed changes to parking south of Stickney Point Road on Siesta Key would lower the minimum number of spaces required for bars and restaurants to meet Sarasota County's development code.

While a limited number of properties would fit that geographic area, proposed changes will likely face pushback from Siesta Key advocates due to an already challenging parking situation on the popular barrier island.

“While this proposal will reduce the number of automobile spaces available which may exacerbate the parking problems already existing on the Key, it is only applicable to the south bridge area,” according to supplemental material provided to Sarasota County Commissioners.

The change to parking, proposed by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, was one of 11 proposed amendments the County Commission gave staff approval to proceed with during the Unified Development Code amendment cycle. The proposed changes are in the early stages of the process and will have to come back to the County Commission later this year.

The county's development code required annual updates during designated "“cycles” every year.

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This amendment cycle three of the proposed amendments will update the code to comply with recent changes to state law.

The county's regulation of home businesses and food trucks would conflict with recent changes to Florida Statutes and will require updating, said Donna Thompson, county zoning administrator.

Statute changes also require the county to remove the option for county residents to report code enforcement violations anonymously, she said.

In addition to the three amendments caused by changes to state laws, county staff identified five other areas where amendments may be appropriate.

Those changes to the county development codes range from updates to the master tree list and design requirements for fire sprinkler systems to clarifying setback requirements for commercial property and mechanical equipment.

Two proposed changes by county staff that could generate discussion among county commissioners revolve around accessory structures and guest houses.

Current code requires that any accessory structures in property zoned residential greater than 150 square feet “have a similar exterior appearance” of the home. If greater than 300 square feet, the county requires the structure to maintain a similar exterior appearance including “architectural style.”

Thomson told commissioners some residents have complained about burdens these requirements have put on property owners, with some even attempting to have their property rezoned to get around the regulation.

The proposed amendment regarding the removal of guest house size limitations was focused on properties 20 acres or greater in size and zoned open use.

There were two privately initiated amendments to the zoning code, including the reduction in minimum parking for the South Bridge area restaurants and bars.

The current code requires one space for every 50 square feet of eating, drinking or waiting area in restaurants and bars. The change proposes one space for every 75 square feet of space. The change would also count golf cart spaces as required parking.

Under current minimum parking requirements for restaurants in the South Bridge area, a 10,000 square feet of eating, drinking or waiting area would be required to provide 200 parking spaces.

The new change would reduce minimum parking to about 133 spaces.

The other privately initiated development code amendment would allow micro-distilleries in Villages of Lakewood Ranch South.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Siesta Key's South Bridge area could see less parking with proposed changes