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City council directs staff on two issues

By Staff | May 12, 2020

The Sanibel City Council directed staff to obtain a proposal from the city’s coastal engineer on its options for managing the north end of the island near Blind Pass, as well as directed staff to continue working on a draft ordinance for watering restrictions that could be implemented during a drought.

At the May 5 meeting, the council voted unanimously 5-0 for Humiston and Moore Engineers to provide staff with an economic breakdown of beach renourishment options for the area from Blind Pass to Silver Key, including a new interlocal agreement with the Captiva Erosion Prevention District.

Natural Resources Director James Evans reported that a prior agreement between the city, CEPD and Lee County expired in 2015, which was used to mitigate the impacts in the Blind Pass area. Staff has been renegotiating with the CEPD on a new one that would focus on management and renourishment.

He explained that the city’s options may include an annual beach maintenance program of its own or partnering with the CEPD, as it has on past projects under the old agreement, to help reduce costs.

“These are policy decisions that need to be made by the council,” Evans said.

He suggested that the city obtain a cost-analysis proposal outlining what options are available to Sanibel and the projected costs, which the council could review and then decide on. Evans noted that a large project cost – equipment mobilization – can be reduced by partnering again with the CEPD.

“There’s a number of policy questions that need be answered,” he said, adding that the engineer’s report would provide the council with guidance on the best way to proceed.

After some discussion, council voted to have staff proceed with obtaining the proposal.

Also at the meeting, Evans explained that the South Florida Water Management District recently handed down orders for a reduction in water usage for Lee County and other areas, including Sanibel. Spurred by drought-like conditions, the request is for watering to be limited to two days a week.

He added that an Island Water Association assessment found that many are not following it.

“So obviously there needs to be some more education efforts,” Evans said.

Meanwhile, staff has been working with the IWA on a draft ordinance that could be implemented during times of drought, which would outline watering restrictions and enforcement protocols.

After some discussion, the council voted 5-0 for staff to continue working with the IWA on the language of the ordinance and then to present the draft for a first reading at a future meeting.

Also during the meeting, about 50 written public comments were read into the record, with an additional handful of residents in attendance who spoke. The majority voiced support for the council’s decisions to extend the parking and rental prohibitions, along with reopening some businesses.

During discussion, the council encouraged the community to wear masks in public.

IN OTHER NEWS

– Staff provided an update on the city’s new Clean Canals program. Similar to the Sanibel Communities for Clean Water, it provides water quality data for canals and ranks them by impairment. The Website will launch this month and includes best management practices for residents.

– Staffers provided an update on the city’s Coyote Management Plan. The Website, which includes tracking tools and educational materials, will launch this month. Staff continues to collect data.

“But we will not be making any more expenditures on this issue,” Evans said, referring to the city’s need to tighten its budget in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related losses in revenue.