Local News in Review – November 2018

As with the State News in Review post I published Monday, I’ve slightly reformatted and added to this latest Local News in Review. The news is organized according to the governing bodies that represent us, links to their websites are included, and the names and links to the web pages of the incumbents whose seats will be on the ballot in 2020 are noted. It’s not too soon to start thinking about the next elections!
I hope in the coming months to help you familiarize yourself a bit more with our local governing bodies and what they do. You can also find links to them and more on the Helpful Websites page of my website.
This is my last post of 2018. With primary and general elections and 47 posts behind me, it’s been a great year! I am humbled that my subscriber list has grown from about 480 at the beginning of the year to 1,102 today, and there are also almost 500 Facebook followers. Knowing that so many people want to be more informed about their government is gratifying. You inspire me to keep going, and I’m looking forward to doing more next year!

Board of County Commissioners (colliercountyfl.gov)

Next election: August 2020 Primary
On the ballot/incumbent: District 1/Donna Fiala, 3/Burt Saunders, 5/Bill McDaniel; Find Your Commissioner here
Growth, development, redevelopment
  • Here we grow: Collier County’s Mark Strain on where we’re headed. Population of the county is projected to at least double, and quite possibly triple, in the next few decades. Chamber Connect via Naples Daily News/Marco Eagle, 11/9/18
  • County discusses plans for enhancing Golden Gate. At a neighborhood information meeting, Saunders supported staff recommendation to adopt zoning and incentives to encourage private landowners and developers to take the lead in improving Golden Gate. Naples Daily News, 11/15/18
  • Mega-permit for rural Collier development draws opposition, support. A conservation group is raising concerns about a plan, years in the making and now seeking federal approval, that would transform more than 150,000 acres of crops, groves, pasture and natural lands in northeast Collier County into a mix of towns and preserves. Naples Daily News, 12/1/18
Housing
  • Commissioners move ahead with affordable housing on one property, reject plan for second site. Staff will pursue options on the 5-acre “Bembridge site” on Santa Barbara Boulevard, but commissioners opposed, 3-2, considering housing on a portion of a 59-acre future site of a “Manatee Park” south of U.S. 41 in East Naples. Naples Daily News, 11/13/18
  • Related: Editorial: Opportunity missed to seek innovative affordable housing ideas. Naples Daily News, 11/17/18
  • Vacation home renters could see new rules in Collier County. The County’s Tourist Development Council voted nearly unanimously to recommend county staff take a comprehensive look at vacation homes and condos offered for rent in the unincorporated area — and consider the need for stricter rules to govern them. Naples Daily News, 11/26/18
  • Related: Editorial: Short-term rentals merit attention, but not the heavy hand of over regulation. Naples Daily News, 11/27/18
Taxation
  • Tax fatigue? Collier commissioners agree to keep stormwater fee alive. They voted 4-1 (Commissioner Burt Saunders voting no) to allow county staff to continue revising a potential stormwater fee and come back with additional alternatives. Naples Daily News, 11/13/18
  • Editorial: A taxing issue to watch in Collier government. Three upcoming County Commission discussions bear monitoring by sales tax voters and citizens who historically haven’t spoken up often about the county budget. Naples Daily News, 11/25/18
Other
  • County holding public meeting on Goodland Drive. Having taken back responsibility for the frequently flooded road that is the only way in or out of Marco Island, County government is moving to alleviate flooding and restore historical tidal exchanges between the east and west mangrove stands. Marco Eagle, 11/6/18
  • BCC passes ordinance to protect residents from gas pump skimmers. Commissioners voted unanimously to add an ordinance that would require gas stations to secure fuel pumps and protect residents from a theft of their personal financial information. NBC-2.com, 11/13/18
  • Collier brings back free shuttles to Vanderbilt Beach, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. Funded by a state grant, the program allows beachgoers to ride to and from Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park; Vanderbilt Beach; Conner Park, on 111th Avenue North, west of U.S. 41; and a bus stop near Immokalee Road and Creekside Trail. Naples Daily News, 11/21/18
  • With no site in sight, prospects of long-promised Collier ATV park in question. The $3 million budgeted is not enough to buy a property and construct a park, said Barry Williams, Director – Collier Parks and Recreation. Naples Daily News, 11/27/18
  • Collier rejects medical marijuana dispensaries — again. Commissioners Donna Fiala and Penny Taylor again voted against the measure. Approval would have required a super majority vote. FOX4, 12/12/18

Constitutional Offices

Next elections: August 2020
On the ballot: five constitutional offices
In Collier County and Florida’s 46 other non-charter counties, voters elect five constitutional officers every four years. Each oversees an organization funded by taxpayer dollars that provides essential services to county residents.
The constitutional officers, names of Collier’s incumbents and their websites are:
While these officers and the people and activities of their offices are not often in the news, when I come across something relevant to me as a Collier voter, I’ll share it here. In November:
  • Collier Sheriff’s officer runs mental health bureau with heart and soul. Lt. Leslie Weidenhammer, a former road patrol duty officer, is coordinator of the Sheriff’s mental health bureau, which she helped launch in 2016 at the direction of Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. Naples Daily News, 11/17/18

Naples City Council (naplesgov.com)

Next elections: February 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: Mayor/Bill Barnett; 3 Councilors/Reg Buxton, Michelle McLeod, Ellen Seigel
  • Naples bans commercial vehicles from parking on Port Royal streets. Councilors unanimously approved the ban, after the City’s Streets and Stormwater Department director explained that service trucks parking on the side of the road are a safety concern. Naples Daily News, 11/19/18
  • Naples Beach Hotel proposed redevelopment clears first hurdle. The City’s Design Review Board members liked many aspects of the proposal, but raised concerns about its mass and size. Naples Daily News, 11/28/18
  • Coastland Mall redevelopment plans include movie theater. A final vote by the Design Review Board is required, along with City Council approval. Naples Daily News, 11/29/18
  • Naples City Council rejects ordinance that would have created ethics commission. The proposal was rejected 4-3, with council members McLeod, Hutchison, Penniman and Price dissenting. Naples Daily News, 12/5/18
  • Related: Naples Council changes course, will appeal ruling on creating ethics panel. The vote to continue the legal battle against Ethics Naples, the group behind the proposed referendum, was 5-2, with Penniman and Hutchison dissenting. Naples Daily News, 11/7/18
  • Naples Planning Board calms concerns about retaining small-town feel. The city is re-evaluating its vision plan, and there will be four public workshops in January (see naplesvisioning.com). Naples Daily News, 12/12/18

Marco Island City Council (cityofmarcoisland.com)

Next elections: November 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: 4 Councilors/Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed, Charlette Roman
  • For 17 of the past 22 months, Marco Island has been without a trained, qualified, professional city manager. That absence has slowly been taking a toll on the city. By Charlette Roman, Marco City Council, Fall 2018 Newsletter
  • BCC offers two options for increasing ambulance coverage on Marco Island. Councilor Jared Grifoni, who represented the City Council during negotiations last month, characterized the offers as progress but said it was yet to be seen whether either option was right for the city. Marco Eagle, 11/15/18
  • New Marco Council voices support for former chairperson. Post-election, the Council approved a motion to express confidence in chairman Jared Grifoni by a 5-2 vote. Councilors Howard Reed and Charlette Roman, voted no. Marco Eagle, 11/19/18
  • Planning Board approves application for Marco Island assisted living facility. The application paves the wave to create a 12-acre medical campus and a 12,000-square-foot urgent care facility for NCH. Marco Eagle, 11/8/18
  • Related: Failure to give proper notice will require Marco Planning Board to re-hear assisted living facility proposal. Naples Daily News, 11/24/18
  • Marco cop cashed in personal time, bought condo after using other officers’ donated hours. While City Clerk Laura Litzan said there was no explicit policy about the use of donated leave hours, the use of donated hours ahead of an employee’s own hours contradicts best practices established by human resources experts. Marco Eagle, 11/6/18


Collier County School Board (collierschools.comSchool Board)

Next elections: August 2020 Primary
On the ballot/incumbents: District 2 (Stephanie Lucarelli), 4 (Erick Carter)
  • The school district, Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Marco Island Police Department reach memorandums of understanding. The agreements provide armed school resource officers in all Collier public schools, including charter schools, through the end of the current school year. Naples Daily News, 11/16/18

Find your fire district here. Next elections: November 2020

  • Greater Naples Fire Rescue District challenged to meet expectations with limited funding. The District will “need to increase resources and capabilities, all while administering cost-effective budget strategies that maximize resources and expenditures.” Chief Schuldt’s Weekly Message, 11/7/18
  • Commentary: Balancing budget against out-of-area response. Providing emergency response beyond fire district boundaries has its costs but reminds us that many decisions that commissioners tackle aren’t solely based on the budget, but must also consider the human element. By J. Christopher Lombardo, Chairman, North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District board, via Naples Daily News, 11/25/18
  • Commentary: Inter-agency cooperation between North Collier Fire & Rescue District and Collier EMS saves lives. The District’s current Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) will expire March 31, 2019. The application for renewal will be considered by the BCC at their January 8, 2019 meeting. Message from the Board of the Fire Commissioners, 12/12/18
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Correction: As originally published, I wrote that “my subscriber list has grown from about 400 at the beginning of the year to almost 2,000 today.” The correct number is 1,102. I apologize for the unintentional error.