SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Siesta Key residents got heated as they packed a meeting with state representatives. They were demanding change and freedom from the county when it comes to making their own decisions.
Several issues were brought up in Wednesday night’s meeting; one of which is the concern over more and more people coming and jamming up the only two bridges to the small island. After the county voted in favor of allowing high-density hotels in Siesta Key, residents said enough. It’s time to govern themselves.
Siesta Key is known for its relaxing and laid-back culture. It is after all a beach community, but Wednesday night a storm was brewing at the Siesta Key Chapel.
“It was great to see how packed it was. I mean, it was a great turnout,” said Darrell Olson, a Siesta Key resident.
More than a hundred residents showed up, passionate about one thing; they want Siesta Key to become its own city.
“I think people are really emotional right now over this situation,” Chris Marano, a Siesta Key resident.
The straw that broke this community – a vote by county commissioners in favor of high-density hotels building on the island. Residents came cheering on the opportunity to make their own decisions with a bill sponsored by state representative Fiona McFarland.
“I think this is great. This is a fantastic example of people who want to get involved in their own governance. This is the American democracy, the American experience, and they’re participating in it,” said Rep. Fiona McFarland, the Florida Republican.
Citing overcrowding, traffic congestion, better roads, and frustration over providing the county with 28% of the tax revenue but only 1.5% representation, these residents came wanting the chance to vote to become incorporated.
“We just don’t have the say over control. We’re seeing our quality of life-changing, and we don’t have a say in it,” said Olson.
There are many who say this will not pass. There is still a long road ahead to Tallahassee, through the legislature, and onto the ballot. The plan now is for the delegation behind this bill to meet a couple more times and then have a vote on Jan. 4, 2022.