More county permit records expected to be broken by Sept. 30 end of this fiscal year

Figures for multi-family residential units and building inspections exceeding totals for first half of 2022 fiscal year

(Editor’s note: This article was updated late in the morning of May 30 to include the total number of building inspections that county staff handled in the 2022 calendar year.)

Last year, during the Sarasota County Commission’s May budget workshop, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis used a series a slides to underscore what county residents had been observing: A building boom was well underway.

Although Lewis acknowledged that supply-chain issues could have an impact before the 2022 fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, 2022, figures recorded by the county’s Planning and Development Services Department indicated that the county was “hurtling towards all-time highs,” as Lewis put it.

Among the individual types of permits, he noted “the huge increase in [those for] the multi-family [residential dwelling units].” By the end of March 2021, a slide showed, 66 of those had been issued. By the end of March 2022, the figure was 671.

As the County Commission conducted its May budget workshop this week, Lewis again pointed to expectations that the county would be setting new records.

Through March, one slide showed, the county had issued 27,981 permits overall. That compared to the figure of 21,122 through March 2022.

The 2022 fiscal year total ended up being 44,152, down almost exactly 5%, compared to the tally of 46,459 in the 2021 fiscal year.

Referring to the FY 2022 figure, Lewis told the commissioners this week, “If trends continue, we’ll certainly exceed that significantly.”

Additionally, through March, the county had issued 903 multi-family residential building permits. That compared to 671 at the midpoint of the 2022 fiscal year.

“Interestingly,” Lewis continued, “our single-family [dwelling permits] were so high the past several years,” but those have been trending down this year. Through March in the 2022 fiscal year, staff had issued 1,239 permits for construction of single-family homes; the figure through March of this year was 719. “It’s still high,” he said of the latter number.

The total number of single-family home permits issued in the 2022 fiscal year ended up being 2,450, a slide showed. Between the 2004 fiscal year and the 2022 fiscal year, the highest number of single-family home permits issued was 2,908, in the 2021 fiscal year, the slide noted.

The only other fiscal year on that slide when the total exceeded 2,000 was 2005, at the height of the building boom prior to the Great Recession. That figure was 2,152.

Conversely, Lewis noted, the number of permits issued for commercial construction — not just office space, Lewis stressed — is expected to well exceed the 2022 fiscal year tally. The associated bar graph said that the figure through March was 116, while the total for the 2022 fiscal year was about 145. The highest count for any month since the start of this fiscal year was 24, in December 2022, the graph showed.

Yet another set of graphs pointed out that county staff had conducted 100,339 building inspections through March, compared to the total of 83,671 through March 2022. “Absolutely incredible numbers from the men and woman in the Building Division,” Lewis added.

For all of the 2022 fiscal year, the Building Division handled approximately 175,000 inspections, a bar graph showed. In a response to a public records request, The Sarasota News Leader learned from the Planning and Development Services Department staff that, in the 2022 calendar year, the Building Division performed 205,131 inspections.

Other bar graphs in the presentation provided the following data:

  • The number of county library checkouts through March was 1,139,995, compared to 1,339,458 for the same period of the 2022 fiscal year.
  • Attendance at library programs through March added up to 45,430, compared to a figure of 43,905 for the first six months of the 2022 fiscal year.

Lewis reminded the commissioners that, thanks to the efforts of the county’s Libraries and Historical Resources staff, “Our library programming took off during COVID.”

  • The average time for the first emergency unit to arrive on a scene was 6.25 minutes through the first six months of this fiscal year. That compares to 6.09 minutes from Oct. 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022.

Lewis noted the “pretty significant increase in emergency incidents” this year. The related bar graph put the fiscal year-to-date figure at 35,390; for the first six months of the 2022 fiscal year, it was 32,309.

  • The tally of Legacy Trail users through March was 354,266. For the same period of the 2022 fiscal year, the number was 317,966.

The Friends of the Legacy Trail, a nonprofit organization, records the data. This is the link to details about how Friends member Steve Martin arrives at the figures.

The tally of calls to the county’s Contact Center — which is reached by dialing 311 — was 90,194 from October 2022 through March. For the same six months of the 2022 fiscal year, it was 74,570.

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