Attorney long has been an advocate for responsible growth
A long-time community activist, attorney Dan Lobeck of Sarasota has joined the race for two at-large seats on the Sarasota City Commission.
The new commissioners will be chosen on the basis of votes in the Aug. 23 Primary Election and the Nov. 8 General Election.
Lobeck, whose specialty is condominium association law, announced his decision late in the afternoon of June 9. In an email the following day, which he sent to the city commissioners, senior city staff and members of the news media, Lobeck wrote, “After decades of civic advocacy, and after requests from many who I respect, I decided it’s time to try to make a difference in public office.”
“This election may well decide whether Sarasota maintains and polishes the charm and character which makes us the number one choice to visit and live, or whether we let development interests use their unprecedented sway to turn us into just another big city from which people seek to flee,” he continued in his email. “Sarasota will grow but it should grow right.”
Further, Lobeck wrote, “We also face a growing need to meet the challenges for affordable housing, fiscal responsibility, public safety, neighborhood integrity, environmental and historic preservation, traffic mobility, and other issues requiring proactive and principled leadership.”
In a letter on his campaign website, addressed to “the people of Sarasota,” Lobeck pointed out, in red type, “More than ever before, some City Commissioners, and many in City staff, do the bidding of powerful behind-the-scenes vested interests rather than serve the interests of citizens who live here and pay the taxes. We deserve better.”
Lobeck “has served on the boards and as president of numerous civic organizations, working constructively with others to get things done,” his announcement notes.
Describing him as a “refugee from Ft. Lauderdale,” the announcement says, “Lobeck moved to Sarasota in 1982 after searching the state for the best place to live and work. He founded an office for another firm before starting and building his own successful five-attorney law practice downtown. His two children, Jack and Lauren, graduated from Sarasota High School. He lives downtown with his wife Xin, a former teacher and business owner in China who as a college student demonstrated for democracy in the Tiananmen Square uprising.”
Lobeck points out in the announcement, “When the City has to close the Lido Pool because it can’t find lifeguards, and our businesses suffer from too few jobseekers, you know that we have a problem in accommodating a local workforce. With the elderly and others priced out of a place to live, we need programs that tie any increase in base density or other favors to housing for those with limited income, not giving away that increase for nothing and then offering scant additional favors for households earning over $108,000 a year, as in [a] pending Comprehensive Plan amendment.”
Among other reforms for which he will advocate if elected, he continues, are the following:
- A transportation policy that “serves motorists as well as trips by walking, bicycle and bus, replacing measures which embrace traffic congestion.
- Fiscal responsibility so the city “lives within its means and uses taxes from increasing property values to better invest in underserved communities, fight crime, house and treat the homeless, address mental illness, expand parking, enhance parks, clean sidewalks, preserve historic properties and improve our neighborhoods, as well as lower taxes and cut rising utility bills.”
- Keeping and expanding public hearings and City Commission votes on major developments “rather than expand administrative approval, as sought by developers and a majority of the current City Commission.”
“Administrative approval” is the process through which staff determines whether a development application complies to city policies and regulations. Staff would be able to approve or deny the application, based upon the findings.
- Ending the practice of city staff “pushing through their preferred policies with closed door ‘one-on-one’ lobbying of Commissioners, often on behalf of developers and other vested interests.”
- Encouraging “lively downtown entertainment that complements restaurants and other businesses as well as residences, [but] avoid morphing into another Ybor City or Miami Beach.”
- Solving what he calls “the vagrancy problem.” Lobeck adds that it “is adverse to businesses, tourism and residents, as well as those who live on the streets.” However, he added, “[W]e also need to do more to house the homeless and to provide mental illness and addiction services to those who can be persuaded to accept them in conjunction with meeting their basic human needs.’”