Sanibel Voters Must Meet the Challenge: Keep Sanibel Special
|Sunset at Sunset Bay, Sanibel
Sanibel voters will be electing three new city council members in March. Since there are only five members of council, this will be the majority of members – newly elected. That is a rare occurrence, and it is a great opportunity for residents to ensure that their interests will be represented on council. Rumors abound about who may be running for election to these positions. At least it seems that this time candidates will probably not be running unopposed, as has happened at times in the past.
Sanibel Plan, the document that has guided us in ensuring that Sanibel
remains special, states clearly by way of background for the Sanibel Vision
Statement that we have a challenge before us:
“The specter of rampant development has diminished as the community has matured. Nevertheless, unwanted changes are occurring; visitation increases as new ‘attractions’ are developed; beaches and refuge areas are becoming stressed by overuse; traffic congestion is turning to gridlock; and formerly ‘green’ scenic corridors are becoming urbanized and commercialized. These and other conditions and trends cause residents to realize that, unless protected, their island’s historic and cherished way of life is in jeopardy.”
I believe that Sanibel residents do realize this pressing
need to protect the island’s historic and cherished way of life. I am hoping that the candidates they elect
will devote themselves to that task.
Increasingly, the threats to Sanibel are coming from off-island. According to the Vision Statement, “The City
of Sanibel will guard against and, where advisable, oppose human activities in
other jurisdictions that might harm the Island’s sensitive habitats, including
the Island’s surrounding aquatic ecosystems.”
That’s right; the City needs to be involved in decisions
made off-island, and increasingly city council members have had to attend and
participate in meetings elsewhere in the county and the state; they have even
traveled to Washington, D.C.
The time commitment made by these citizens who serve,
voluntarily and without pay, on the council is astounding. We need people who will do this job not in
the interest of the business of increasing attractions and development on the
island, but who will do it in the interest of quality of life for all who live on
Sanibel – wildlife and human.
This is an important time to get to know the candidates as
they emerge, to learn about their motivations and values, and to determine if
they stand for the tenets of the Sanibel Vision Statement as stated in the
beginning of the Sanibel Plan.
We need to elect council members who believe in these
values, as delineated in the vision statement:
Diversity: The City of
Sanibel cherishes its cultural, social ecological and economic diversity and
will endeavor to maintain it.
Beauty: The City of Sanibel
will foster quality, harmony and beauty in all forms of human alteration of the
environment. The community aesthetic is
defined as a casual style, one which is adapted to a relaxed island quality of
life and respectful of local history, weather, culture and natural systems.
Uniqueness: The City of
Sanibel chooses to remain unique through a development pattern which reflects
the predominance of natural conditions and characteristics over human
intrusions. All forms of development and
redevelopment will preserve the community’s unique small-town identity.
Character: The City of
Sanibel chooses to preserve its rural character in its setting within an
urbanizing county. “Auto-urban” development influences will be avoided.
The commercialization of natural resources will be limited and strictly
Stewardship: In keeping with
the foregoing principles, the City of Sanibel affirms a land ethic that
recognizes landholding – both public and private – as a form of stewardship,
involving responsibilities to the human and natural communities of the Island
and its surroundings, and to future generations.
Consider keeping that list on-hand as you meet council
candidates. Talk with them about these
values; see where they stand. Keep