Siesta hotels update: Florida cabinet delays decision on County sanctions

May 25, 2023 —

The Governor and Cabinet took Lourdes Ramirez’s recommendation that they place sanctions on Sarasota County under advisement but will wait to make a decision until after the County’s appeal of the Administrative Law Judge ruling is settled. The next step in the case will be the July 7 hearing before Circuit Court Judge Hunter Walker.

Get more information about Lourdes’s legal cases.

May 19, 2023 —

On May 23, 2023, the Florida Administration Commission (Governor and Cabinet) may consider whether to impose sanctions on Sarasota County for adopting a regulation that eliminated maximum densities for all hotels and was found to be inconsistent with the County Comprehensive Plan.  The Administration Commission may impose sanctions including not providing funds for road or other projects.    The May 23 session will begin at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room of the Capitol in Tallahassee and is open to the public. The meeting will be live streamed, at Click here for the Commission meeting agenda.

Read more:

Sarasota News Leader, May 19, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Governor and Cabinet to address Ramirez’s win in Siesta hotel case as part of May 23 meeting at Capitol”

April 20, 2023 —

Circuit court Judge Hunter Carrol has been assigned to the Siesta Key hotel cases to replace Judge Stephan Walker, who recused himself. Today, Judge Carrol held a previously scheduled hearing to decide how to proceed in the two Siesta Key hotel cases. On the motions for summary judgement, Judge Carol decided to hear new arguments on the motion at a hearing, possibly in June. Due to a schedule conflict, he moved the October trial to the week of November 13.

For a comprehensive account of this hearing, read Sarasota News Leader, April 20, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Week of Nov. 13 the earliest a trial would begin in consolidated lawsuits filed over County Commission approval of two high-rise hotels on Siesta Key.”

Administrative Law Judge Rules that County Violated Comprehensive Plan

On April 3, Administrative Law Judge Suzane Van Wyk ruled that the Sarasota County Commission violated the County Comprehensive Plan in approving the Calle Miramar hotel in 2021. This ruling could be influential in the current ongoing lawsuits challenging the County Commission approval of two large hotels on Siesta Key.

She wrote that the County’s 1981 Comprehensive Plan “specifically discusses the Barrier Islands as an area of special concern, acknowledging the ‘problems associated with development on the barrier islands,’ including ‘the detrimental effect of building along the active beach areas’ and ‘difficulties of evacuating large numbers of people from the Keys in time of emergency.” Developers indicated that they would appeal this ruling.

The ruling will be reviewed by the Florida Administration Commission, consisting of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet, which could specify sanctions against the County. The next meeting of the Commission is May 23.