SARASOTA, Fla. (October 24, 2022) – Sarasota’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan cleared its final hurdle when Sarasota City Commissioners approved amendments to the plan in a 4-1 vote on October 17. The passage of these ordinances pertaining to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan has been a major initiative for the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee (RASM) and the Commercial Real Estate Alliance since conversations began in 2021. RASM joined the Sarasota Chamber, Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, Argus Foundation, and other community organizations to collectively lobby for this much-needed change at various Commission meetings.

The new Comprehensive Plan will bring Sarasota in step with modern cities throughout the country, attempting to make space for smart growth initiatives while also addressing the area’s affordable housing issues. The plan incentivizes affordable housing through density bonuses in targeted areas like the downtown core and commercial corridors like U.S. 41, U.S. 301, and Fruitville Road. If a developer in these areas wishes to increase density for their projects, they can do so if a certain percentage of units are secured for affordable housing, based on the Area Median Income.

One local land use expert called the plan “transformational” and lauded the City Commissioners for being bold and forward-thinking, and for getting this plan across the finish line.

“This plan will allow affordable housing to be feasible for developers. Before, the only projects that financially made sense downtown, given the density restrictions, were large luxury units. With the new plan we’ll see smaller, more affordable units being built downtown and along the traffic corridors, providing more workforce housing options for teachers, first responders and other young professionals who can’t afford to live in our beautiful city,” said 2022 RASM President Tony Veldkamp.

The passage of this plan is a win for RASM as we were able to fight for smart growth (putting density in areas where it makes sense), while also getting assurances for affordable housing, which is a major policy priority for the Association. While the effects seen from the passage of the plan won’t be immediate, this will lay the groundwork for a future in Sarasota that is more inclusive and vibrant.