Sustainable Sarasota

Why is Solar Energy Inhibited in Florida?

Why is Solar Energy Inhibited in Florida?

One would think that Florida, the “Sunshine State, would rank higher than 13th in solar energy generation and that solar would provide more than just 2% of the energy mix for the state. This is because Florida is one of only four states that requires that solar energy be sold exclusively by the utilities companies. Direct sales by private companies that install solar panels is banned in this state. The state also further taxes commercial property owners who install solar arrays. 

Other states allow businesses and property owners to install solar panels and sell excess energy back to the utility grids. Since the average price of photovoltaic cells has plummeted 60 percent since 2010, due to lower production costs and more­efficient design, solar energy is now a very viable option for clean energy production.

Other states also allow solar power purchase agreements. These are financial agreements where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. The developer sells the power generated to the host customer at a fixed rate that is typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate. This lower electricity price serves to offset the customer’s purchase of electricity from the grid while the developer receives the income from these sales of electricity as well as any tax credits and other incentives generated from the system.

The utility companies oppose the free­market use of solar energy since it will reduce demand and their financial bottom line. They argue that since there would be less demand on the grid, the cost of energy for those without solar energy would increase. However, since solar energy reduces demand on the grid, it would not be necessary to construct new power stations, which are a major expense, and environmental concerns with energy production would be greatly alleviated.

The solar energy dilemma in Florida may soon be changing since a broad coalition of both conservatives and liberals have come together for expansion of solar energy in the state through a constitutional amendment. The ballot initiative allows for more competition in the electricity market and does not involve subsides or mandates. The success of the petition drive has triggered a review of the ballot language by the Florida Supreme Court. If the initiative takes hold and opens up the free­ market, solar energy will take­ off in the Sunshine State.

Raymond Young, Ph.D.
Sarasota Sister Cities Association

Honore Park - Proposed - Ward Lake, Braden River

Ward Lake is a very nice and attractive lake. It is owned by the City of Bradenton and provides water supply and recreation. Ward Lake is also known as Ever's Reservoir and is on the Braden River.

The County of Manatee has provided a very nice recreational facility called Jigg's Landing located at the northeast corner of the lake. Canoes and boats can be launched from Jigg's Landing.

Honore borders the southern border of the Lake. But the area is fenced and the lake cannot be seen or used by local residents. To see or use the lake requires an over 5 mile drive.

We propose that Manatee County develop a small park on the southwestern boundary of the Lake on Honore. The County already owns property in this location and with a small effort the County could create a nice small park that would provide an attractive area for the people near Honore. We propose the nameHonore Park.

Jiggs Landing can be seen in the north east corner of the Lake.  The proposed new park would be at the south east corner of the Lake with access from Honore

The map below shows how residents who live near Honore must now travel to get to Ward Lake.  The new park would lower the distance by over 5 miles. Bikers and walkers could easily get to the lake.

The map below shows the location of the proposed Honore Park. People living west of I75, north of Univeristy, east of Prospect and south of State Road 70 would benefit from the park and covenient access to the Lake.

The outlined parcel below is owned by Manatee County. It fronts on Honore and has a small detention pond on the west end. If is also very close to Ward Lake. Land on all sides of the parcel is owned by the City of Bradenton.  The County could easily create a small park in this location with nice overlooks and access to Ward Lake.

Bradenton has just announced that they intend to sell the 200 acres just west of the Lake and bordering Honore.  They have received a number of offers for the land.  Now would be an excellent time for the County to buy some or all of this land. So the County could do a minimalist park, or acquire some of the property, or all of the property.

We are forming a Committee to explore this acquisition.  We ask that the County Board explore the possibility of an acquisition of some or all of the site.

Jigg's Landing is a very nice Manatee County Park. A list of Amenities at Jigg's Landing is listed below:

  • Picnic areas and pavilions
  • Boardwalks
  • Concession stand
  • Wildlife viewing areas
  • Dock
  • Nature-themed Playground

Kayak/Canoeing: A new handicap accessible canoe/kayak launch is located at the site. The launch gives paddlers access to the entire Braden River and its freshwater system.

Picnicking: Available at the various sites throughout the preserve on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Pavilion: The picnic pavilion is available by reservation on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can reserve a pavilion online or by calling 941-742-5923.

Wildlife Viewing: Visitors can view a variety of birds and wildlife throughout the preserve in the restored native ecosystems.

Coming Soon:
The following amenities will be added to Jiggs Landing as it develops:
  • Interpretive signage
  • Kayak concessions
  • Bicycle concessions
  • Food, bait, and drink concessions


Manatee could create a nice small park on Honore with access and views of Ward Lake. 

Contact Craig Hullinger at if you have comments or concerns or if you would like to help make this park a reality.

Click for a One Page Executive Summary

Sarasota Sustainable Development

This post was developed by the Sarasota Sister Cities Association. It is a work in progress - please click here if you wish to propose changes or additions or ask questions.

Sustainable "Green" Economic Development combines environmental improvement and traditional economic development into one discipline. It is possible that traditional economic development can be employed to increase employment while improving our environment. Economic Development and “Green” Development can be synergistic, improving our overall quality of life.

Sustainable Development is defined by the United Nations as "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”(1). Sustainable development begins at home and is supported by effective domestic policies and international partnerships. Self-governing people prepared to participate in an open world marketplace are the very foundation of sustainable development" (2).

Traditional Economic Development 

Economic development is the increase in the amount of people in a nation's population with sustained growth from a simple, low-income economy to a modern, high-income economy. Its scope includes the process and policies by which a nation improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people (3). The University of Iowa's Center for International Finance and Development states that: "'Economic development' or 'development' is a term that economists, politicians, and others have used frequently in the 20th century. 

The concept, however, has been in existence in the West for centuries. Modernization, Westernization, and especially Industrialization are other terms people have used when discussing economic development. Although no one is sure when the concept originated, most people agree that development is closely bound up with the evolution of capitalism and the demise of feudalism (4).

The Canadian Center for Community Renewal defines “Community Economic Development as the process by which local people build organizations and partnerships that interconnect profitable business with other interests and values - for example, skills and education, health, housing, and the environment. In CED a lot more people get involved, describing how the community should change. A lot more organizations look for ways to make their actions and investments reinforce the wishes and intentions of the whole community. Business becomes a means to accumulate wealth and to make the local way of life more creative, inclusive, and sustainable - now and 20 or 30 years from now.” 

Sustainable Economic Development 

KISS (Keep it Sweet and Simple). A simple rule set and acronym is: 


Keep the businesses and jobs that you have

Expand the businesses you have

Enhance your community to attract new businesses

Protect and continuously improve the environment 

Sustainable Economic Development is the art of keeping and expanding our businesses while continually improving the Environment. As economic developers we provide information and assistance to companies who create new jobs. We create the policies and incentives to retain our existing businesses and support expansion. A good economic development office strives to have the most comprehensive and current information available on the following subject matter areas:

• Local demographics

• Quality of life

• Public infrastructure

• Business assistance

• Real estate

• Taxes, fees, regulations

• Market the community to targeted business industries

Both successful economic development and continuing improvement to the environment are a hallmark of a quality community. Some people still think that economic development is chasing smokestacks and that economic development hurts the environment. But that view is outdated. Working intelligently, business and government can expand the economy and retain and attract quality jobs while enhancing and improving the environment.

Sustainable Economic Development Strategy 

The Vision 

Our communities will provide quality jobs at good wages while improving our environment.

Mission Statement
We are committed to providing an environment in which our natural resources, our people, and our economy are balanced. We will not compromise the future by focusing solely on the needs of today. We aspire to make our communities regional leaders who develop, promotes, and improves the quality of our community through sustainable practices.

Smart Growth, New Urbanism, and Mixed Use Development 

Sustainable Economic Development is consistent with the principles of Smart Growth, New Urbanism, and Mixed Use Development. Growth presents a tremendous opportunity for progress and change. Communities around the country are looking for methods to optimize development and to amend zoning rules that make it difficult to place workplaces, homes, and services closer together. Citizens are faced with economic pressures and seek ways to save on car and gas use and on commuting time.

To address these challenges we must make a commitment to sustainable land use planning, often called "smart growth." Taking steps such as preserving open space, providing a variety of transportation choices, encouraging compact building designs and creating walk able communities will help the city choose smart growth strategies that encourage social, cultural and physical activity. Smart growth is a way to offer more choices to citizens in terms of deciding where to live, how to get around, and will protect the environment while stimulating economic growth. Mixed use development and new urbanism emphasize reducing travel times between work and home. This is certainly consistent with sustainable development.

Sustainable Economic Development operates within a social and economic context. Smart growth also strongly supports the revitalization and/or redevelopment of established and emerging urban neighborhoods. It promotes neighborhood-centric activity centers that employ a smart growth development template that integrates a mix of uses, multi-modal circulation options, public spaces and other elements.

Environmental sustainability is a part of this operation and is best achieved when integrated with other components. A sustainable economic development organization seeks to participate within its community, integrate economic development with environmental protection, and minimize the impacts of development on the community. Through seeking balance, an organization will take into account the needs of future generations.

With financial difficulties and environmental concerns facing the global and national economy, we will place a high priority on sustainable economic development, energy efficiency, and responsible growth management.


Sustainable Economic Development will be the standard for future economic development and “green” environmental improvement efforts. We can and will improve our environment while providing jobs and tax base for our community.

Sustainable Economic Development will be the standard for future economic development and “green” environmental improvement efforts. We can and will improve our environment while providing jobs and tax base for our community.

Recommended Improvements

The following are our recommended improvements to "Green" our communities that we will pursue that while working to retain and expand our businesses and jobs:

· We will retain our existing businesses and jobs

· We will help our existing businesses expand

· We will attract new businesses

· Energy efficiency in all businesses is encouraged

· Developers are encouraged to create green buildings

· Mixed use development will be emphasized

· Historic buildings will be adaptively reused

· Walk ability of the city will be encouraged

· Incentives will be employed to support improvements

· Energy efficient buildings will be required

· Sedimentation and erosion controls will be enforced

· The ecology of waters edge areas will be enhanced

· Bike trails and racks will be emphasized

· Transit will be improved

· Trees and natural landscaping will be planted

· Renewable energy sources will be sought

· Recycling will be supported

· Air and water quality will be improved

· We will ensure a just and fair society

· We will seek to provide jobs for all of our citizens

We will follow the principles below: 

Promote efficient buildings

Use recycled material in buildings

Recycle building material waste

Encourage rain harvesting and irrigation

Use passive solar orientation of buildings

Encourage solar and wind energy systems

Employ green roofs

Support the use of natural landscaping

Improve municipal staff knowledge of “green” techniques

Support quality construction for long lived buildings

Encourage mixed use development

Support walk to work programs

Encourage development that supports transit

Support efforts to redevelop older communities

Permit Live / Work Space development

Support natural open space and parks

Use open surface natural drainage where feasible

Design wetlands, drainage ways and retention into parks

Support the local production of “green” technology equipment

Incorporate bikeways and pedestrian path

Minimize pavement widths & cost & material

Update codes to encourage “green” development

Encourage geothermal energy

Require street trees

Sustainable Land Use Planning 

Economic Development Links


Conference Update

All in all, the conference was attended by more than 360 interested adults and students who represented six Sarasota County schools and several universities.  A total of 21 speakers gave presentations at the conference.  You can enhance your knowledge on one of the most critical issues of our time and future by viewing their slide presentations on our conference web site.


Tom Halbert, Past President
Sarasota Sister Cities

Sarasota County Sustainability Workshop


The Keynote Speakers have been announced and a tentative Agenda is now available for the 8th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop, to be held on Dec. 18, 2013.  Please register now to attend this exciting workshop.

Businesses and organizations are also invited to consider partnering in presenting this important workshop asExhbitors and Sponsors.  The 2013 Sustainable Communities Workshop theme is "Investing in Our Future." Please support this goal and have your commitment to community sustainability recognized. 

Register Now!
 Join attendees from across the region at the 8th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop on from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 18, 2013 at the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida Event and Conference Center. The $30 registration fee includes continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon "Local Food Showcase." The student rate is $20.

Workshop Sponsors 
Sponsors are in an ideal position to offer information and services to residents, businesses, organizations, and government agency workshop attendees. 

Sponsors will be recognized, based on their level of support, on the workshop's promotional material, website and at the event. Further information on sponsorship opportunities and the application form are available on the Workshop Website.  

Workshop Exhibitors 
The 2013 Sustainable Communities Workshop invites businesses to offer their products, services, and programs as exhibitors at this year's workshop. Showcase your sustainable solutions for water, energy, and infrastructure demands, renewable and alternative energy, resource conservation, electric vehicles, recycling, reuse, clean tech, green business, ecotourism, local food, health improvements and housing choices.  Exhibitors may sell resource conserving, local products, as this event will be promoted as an opportunity for holiday shopping.   
Exhibitor space is available for a fee of $75 upon approval, and includes two complimentary registrations. Information and the application are on the Workshop Website.

Keynote Speakers
Carol Peppe Hewitt
"Financing our Foodshed: Rethinking How We Pay for our Food"
Carol Peppe Hewitt is an author, business owner, social entrepreneur, and a pioneer in the Slow Money movement. Since founding Slow Money NC in 2010, she has catalyzed more than 90 low-interest loans to nearly 50 small farmers and local food businesses in North Carolina, with a goal of building resilience in local foodsheds.
Her book, "Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food With Slow Money,"tells the compelling, real life stories of 22 Slow Money entrepreneurs who grow, process, distribute, and sell local food, as well as the generous people in their communities who became their lenders.
Trish Riley
"Greening Your Business: Working Together Toward a Sustainable Future"
Trish Riley is an award-winning journalist and author. Her books include: The Complete Idiot's Guides to Green Living and Greening Your Business; and The Explorer's Guide to South Florida, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Keys. Her articles have appeared in Hemispheres, The Miami Herald, South Florida Business Journal, Natural Health, Natural Home and E/The Environmental Magazine.
Riley publishes, an environmental news site and resource to help build sustainable communities. She founded the Gainesville Chapter of Green Drinks and Cinema Verde, Gainesville's environmental film and arts festival.

Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, religion, or genetic information.  Persons with disabilities who require assistance or alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), or who wish to file a complaint, should contact: Sarasota County ADA/ Civil Rights Coordinator, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida 34236, Phone: 941-861-5000, TTY: 7-1-1 or1-800-955-8771, Email:
Please note: The listing of a sponsoring company's name will not constitute an endorsement by Sarasota County or other organizing partners. 
November 21, 2013
Sustainable Communities Workshop
Register now for the
December 18, 2013
Quick Links


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Thanks from Antonio Zonta

Dear Sarasota Sister City Association, dear USF, dear Friends and Colleagues

First of all I want to thank the Sister City Association and the USF for the warm hospitality that I was offered in Sarasota, and for the faultless organization and the high scientific level of the conference.

But I also remember the wonderful experience that has allowed me to meet new colleagues and make new friends: I really hope that we can keep in touch and find new opportunities to meet.

Thanks so much to all of you and take care!
Grazie a tutti e un grande saluto!

Antonio Zonta

Director of the Building and Estate Department 
Province of Treviso