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Siesta Key is now another step closer to becoming Fort Lauderdale, as a harebrained hotel proposal remains alive and kicking.

Might as well build a giant Ferris wheel and a miniature golf course while they’re at it. You know, just to completely ruin the integrity of the best beach community in the world, the one we seem so proud to promote after yet another travel guide throws a dart at a board and declares us No. 1!

The Sarasota County Commission recently voted 3-2 to remove a regulation that limits the number of hotel rooms that could be built on an acre. Is this really the best idea? Not only does it pave the way for a proposed eight story hotel consisting of 170 rooms to move forward, but also three other hotel proposals on Siesta Key just like it.

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By the end of the month, Save Siesta Key hopes to have a proposed charter finalized for a new municipal government on the barrier island and more than 2,000 signatures in support of incorporation.

With less than two weeks remaining until a deadline to submit materials to the state, however, the group isn’t quite done with its work. Earlier this month, Save Siesta Key Vice Chair Tracy Jackson appeared at a Siesta Key Association meeting to update residents on the status of the incorporation campaign. Although Save Siesta Key is still putting the finishing touches on the charter and a required feasibility study, Jackson said the group is on track to submit everything necessary to the state legislature in time for a Sept. 1 deadline.

“We’re going to make the timeline,” Jackson said.

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As of June 25, 500 signatures of support by island residents who are registered voters here had been collected, according to board member Tracy Jackson. At least 10% of the residents must sign their names in the form of a petition, per the application process.

A recent feasibility study, required by the state as also part of the incorporation application, found the island’s population of residents to stand at 8,915 as of 2020.  Therefore, the percentage threshold for petitions has not yet been reached.

Jackson said that reaching all residents, many of whom may be snowbirds, has been challenging. She said her group is working with the Siesta Key Condominium Council in an attempt to track-down everyone.

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Residents on Sarasota County’s most popular barrier island have been vocal on several issues including the dredging of Big Pass, overdevelopment, and infrastructure concerns, but many feel local leaders haven’t heard them out on issues that matter to their island community.

That’s why local residents and business owners formed the group ‘Save Siesta Key’. The community group aims at controlling the destiny of the barrier island and protecting the quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors alike.

Save Siesta Key is exploring the possibility of breaking away from Sarasota County and forming its own local government. The group is raising money for a feasibility study to see if incorporation makes sense and if it would be sustainable long-term.

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Welcome to the town of Siesta Key.

The possibility of a sign greeting visitors and residents with that message on the island side of both causeways to the now-unincorporated community has a nice ring to it, say organizers of a new grassroots push steeped in history that goes back to the 1960s.

At issue is self-rule and a dissatisfaction with county management of the island.

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With four large-scale hotels on the county planning commission’s table, Tracy says residents feel left out. The group is exploring the possibility of breaking away from Sarasota County and becoming incorporated.

“It feels like a replay. Oh gosh. Here we go again,” she said. “We are trying to provide a long-term solution where we can be hard and our voices can mean something.”

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A man with a name familiar to Siesta Key residents is returning to a project with which he’s quite familiar. John Davidson, a resident here since 1958 and known as the founder of Davidson Drugs and later The Pelican Press, has stepped forward to lead a group seeking incorporation of the island. If successful, Siesta Key would become its own town and form its own government. Currently, Sarasota County commissioners govern the Key.

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