top story

Resident concerns shift from jobs to growth

  • 0

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- For the 23rd year in a row, a survey of Sarasota County residents is showing what many like and don't like locally. For years, the biggest issues have been jobs and the economy. This year though, it's concern about growth and development.

In June and July, the Florida Institute of Government interviewed 800 Sarasota County residents about the place they live and their local government.

County Commissioner Joe Barbetta says the findings are helpful. "It basically gives us a pulse of the community; how our citizens feel about the job we are doing, if we are on the right track."

The most important issue now facing the county has changed. It's gone from the economy and jobs to growth and development.

Dan Lobeck, who heads Control Growth Now, says that's important. "This survey shows three times more than any other issue, people are concerned with growth, development, and traffic in our county."

"I think there is a perception of growth being a problem." Barbetta says he understands the concern, but says residents need not worry. "We are growing at less than one percent a year for the past four or five years. It is certainly not rampant growth."

Lobeck, who is a harsh critic of the current county commission’s pro-growth stance, says it's selective listening. “You would think that our leaders would respond to this concern by the public and start pulling back on their amazing plans to start opening up the whole county to massive urban sprawl. They are not. They ignore the people because they just care about the people contributing to their campaigns."

For now, at least overall, more than 90% of those surveyed say the quality of life in the county is excellent or good.

"The most important thing out there is the quality of life, the satisfaction with services. The responsiveness and trust in government. All those things were quite high."

Just 47% of those surveyed say they trust local government. That number has actually gone up in recent years.