More than 300 islanders attended COTI's 40th anniversary party at the Community House Wednesday, Jan. 14. Photo by Chris Koerner
More than 300 islanders attended COTI's 40th anniversary party at the Community House Wednesday, Jan. 14. Photo by Chris Koerner

Over 300 islanders attended Wednesday night's 40th Anniversary Party for the Committee of the Islands.

The turnout was very gratifying and, we believe, an indicator of the degree to which support for COTI has grown in recent years.

COTI has been very pro-active in communicating not only with our members but with the Sanibel community at large.  Here are just a few examples of those communication efforts, since we began our new Community Outreach program in 2010:

We have had 118 commentaries and news stories about COTI published in the island papers, with further coverage from digital media.

We make regular mailings to our members and others on Sanibel.  Last year, these efforts resulted in mailings to over 7,000 members, residents and property owners.

We have over 1,000 members and friends who are on our email list to receive digital updates from COTI. That is the equivalent of almost one out of every six Sanibel residents.

One or more COTI board members attend every City Council and Planning Commission meeting. We work closely with our elected officials on issues important to Sanibel and to the COTI mission.

Here are some of these issues where important progress has been made in just the past year:

·         Resort Redevelopment/Architectural Standards. COTI actively supported revisions to the Land Development Code which provide the essential ground rules for redevelopment of aging structures in the Resort Housing District. More recently, COTI urged that there be architectural standards for such redevelopment, and recommended that standards similar to those required for commercial redevelopment be adopted for resorts as well. The City is now writing required architectural standards for resort redevelopment similar to those that apply for commercial redevelopment.

·         Commercial Buses. COTI had been working for some time to restrict the use of commercial buses on Sanibel. On Aug. 5, 2014, City Council adopted an ordinance which, with limited exceptions, prohibits any bus or van with a capacity of more than 10 passengers from parking, loading or unloading on the City's four beach parking lots. We welcome this conclusion, as it will greatly reduce the number of large buses that are coming on Sanibel and the overcrowding on our beaches.

·         Educational/Sightseeing Bus Tours on Sanibel. COTI opposed the operation of a new tour bus on Sanibel. Council subsequently enacted a rigorous application process for any new bus tour operation. Should an applicant complete the process, Council will schedule an opportunity for public comment before final approval. At that public hearing the applicant will have to show, to the satisfaction of the City Council, that there is a demonstrated need for the services to be provided that exceeds the capability of existing tour bus operators.

·         Segways. When the state legislature passed a law that preempted Sanibel's prohibition of unsupervised individual use of Segways on the City's shared use paths and roads, the City Council began taking steps to comply. COTI argued that the safety of Sanibel's citizens and guests should come first and urged that an effort be made to have the state law changed before it authorized the use of Segways by individuals in our city. City Council heard our message – and is now considering state legislative options.

·         Floating Docks. In response to a state law allowing floating docks statewide, City Council approved a permitting process for any floating dock structure to provide some City control over design and safety. COTI had strongly supported this Council action.

We are grateful to all those who have supported our efforts over the years.  That support is essential to the successes COTI has achieved. 

It was wonderful seeing the great turnout at our anniversary party. We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Johnson of Bailey's, Leslie Adams Catering, musician Gene Federico, and photographer Chris Koerner for their help in making the party such a outstanding success. It was a real team effort, and we were delighted to have had these folks as part of it.

We look forward to seeing everyone at our Annual Meeting later in the year, to which the public is also invited --on March 13 at 9 a.m, again at the Sanibel Community Center.  Thanks again to all for your support of COTI and its mission: To help ensure the continuity of good local government, to protect the environment, and to preserve the sanctuary character of our barrier island community.