CASI hosts Kick-Off Breakfast Nov. 19
Over 100 people greeted City Manager Judie Zimomra, her staff and Vice Mayor Doug Congress and Councilman Jim Jennings at CASI’s (The Condominium Associations of Sanibel, Inc.) Kick-Off Breakfast on Wednesday, November 19th at The Sanctuary Clubhouse.
The breakfast was sponsored by Bank of the Islands.
This was the City Manager’s 14th annual presentation to CASI. She highlighted achievements of the past year.
This year the City affected flood insurance building ratings, and proposed rates at the Federal level, both of which help lower premiums for island properties.
Once again this year, staff was able to deliver a budget to Council that lowered the City’s portion of each property owners tax bill.
This week the City was awarded the Silver status for bicycle friendly communities. Recently the City was recognized as one of the most bike friendly communities in the nation and among the four most bike friendly cities in Florida.
Part of the expansion and improvements to the path have been funded by over $669,000 of grants in just the last six months.
Technology at City Hall has changed in the last year. Live streaming of meetings of City Council, Planning Commission, board and advisory committees are now available through a new agenda management software.
In addition, meetings and postings on the website can be bookmarked and archived. Improved access to the attachments and background materials make it easier for citizen use.
Also new is an on-line employment process that eases the process for applicants and also screens qualifications for the City. The next technological project is to put the permitting process on-line.
That project is currently in the design phase. It is hoped that the system will allow a one-permit process for many applicants.
The City sends useful alerts to citizens through an e-mail system. These notifications are available by signing up on the “News You Can Use'” section of the mysanibel.com website.
Planning Director Jim Jordan is celebrating 30 years of service with the City. The Director recommends that each association file an authorization form with the City to designate who may file for permits on behalf of the association.
Normally this designee is a person or a management entity. To protect the association, the City cannot process permits without first receiving this authorization.
The Director also recommended each property open a “buildback” file to facilitate recovery in the event of a natural disaster.
There is no fee for this service and there are no requirements for what must be in the file, although the City recommends at least a survey, elevation certificates, and floor plans.
The City also recommends that associations file a digital version of these records off-site.
The City Manager reminded us that the Recreation Center was constructed because 80% of the citizens favored it in a referendum vote.
Tasha Maddix of the Rec Center staff described the facilities available. In addition to a weight room, tennis and basketball courts, lap and separate kids splash pool, a skate park and playground, there are 40 fitness classes a week; all are free with membership.
The Rec Center works with condominiums who are remodeling their own amenities by developing a package to accommodate temporarily displaced owners and guests from those properties.
Holly Milbrandt is the staff environmental biologist and the Acting Natural Resources while Director James Evans is on special assignment for water quality issues.
Director Evans is working with the Council and the Mayor to petition policymakers and create partnerships with other affected communities.
Water quality is determined by many factors and while there there were few problems this year, the situations which degrade water quality still exist and are the focus of the City’s efforts.
All beachfront trimming requires a permit. Permits are good for three years. Trimming is limited to 25% of the leaf surface so properties may need to trim yearly to preserve water views. Before issuing a permit, staff visits the property to meet with the owners and review site specific issues and challenges.
This was a great year for sea turtles on Sanibel. There were about 100 nests on the East end, the highest count in recent years.
There were also a record number of turtles that became disoriented due to lighting. While most beachfront landscape and building lighting are compliant with the Marine Turtle Protection Lighting ordinance, the interior lights in some units are occasionally a problem.
The Turtle Protection lighting rules are in effect year around. Changes being contemplated to the Dark Skies ordinance will not affect the Turtle Protection Lighting rules.
Emergency Management Director William Dalton reported that according to a Realtors survey, Sanibel was the fourth safest city in the state.
Part of that success is due to working closely with residents and resort managers. Enjoying our relaxed island, some vacationeers, especially those in ground floor units, too often unwisely leave their sliders and doors unlocked, a well known and attractive target for mischief.
Resort managers work closely with the City to alert their guests to potential problems.
The City has responded positively to condominiums’ request that their property managers be allowed on the island at the same time, if not before, owners so that the managers can secure and prepare the property prior to owners arriving back on-site.
The City Manager reported that security cameras have become an increasingly important security tool. Initially the County had a camera at the entrance to the causeway.
Then the City installed a camera to monitor the license plates of cars coming on the island. That installation led to detecting several stolen cars coming onto the island that were then tracked down and sent off the island.
The beaches and their parking lots are where most of the crime on the island occurs so cameras have been installed at some of these locations.
A few cameras are installed at other “high density” locations. While there is no one monitoring these cameras, the cameras give the police the ability to quickly check out situations when calls come in or during periods of high activity.
Security cameras can be linked to cell phones so even if no one is near the monitoring device, the cell phone user can see what is going on when they are alerted to activity in the area.
Security cameras also have provided a recording when crimes occur so that the police can review the video to identify perpetrators and victims. The cameras have been so successful that Council recently authorized installing a few more at strategic sites.
Since last year’s CASI meeting, Verizon has installed a cell tower on the east end. According to their agreement with the City and FCC rules, Verizon must allow space on the tower for AT&T.
Last week the City received and signed the paperwork so that AT&T can install their equipment on the tower.
There were several questions concerning safety on the bike path, especially where the path crosses driveways and intersections.
With the help of an engaged citizenry and energetic bike club, the city continually works to improve safety for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.
The next CASI breakfast will feature Mayor Kevin Ruane and be held on Friday, January 23rd.