by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
The COVID-19 pandemic and water quality are the two primary issues that prompted Dr. Scott Crater to run in the March 2 election for a seat on the Sanibel City Council. A dermatologist with 18 years of experience and a medical degree from University of Virginia School of Medicine, Crater believes in the science behind fighting the virus and water quality.
“I believe in science,” he said. “The majority of the council have done a good job on (COVID-19) policies. It’s been a lot of work and they made adjustments that have been sensible and reasonable.”
When it comes to our water, Crater said the scientific consensus is nutrients from Lake Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee River contribute to red tide in the Gulf of Mexico. “I’m a year round resident and have witnessed red tide events. There was none worse than 2018 and we can’t have a repeat of that,” he said.
Crater likewise wants to address issues such as gas powered leaf blowers and single use plastics. He would support a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers unless they could meet a noise threshold. But, he says air pollution from the gas powered blowers is also a problem.
“My preference would be to ban them entirely because there is a simple solution: residents could purchase an electric one for their landscaper to use at their home. It’s a reasonable compromise,” he said. And it’s an action he has already taken.
An issue Crater sees facing the city is its ability to regulate short-term vacation rentals. Republican Senator Manny Diaz Jr. and Florida Rep. Jason Fischer filed identical bills in the Senate and House this month that would preempt local government’s ability to regulate short-term rentals.
Crater pointed to Paradise Valley, Ariz., as an example of the negative impact it would have on the island. Arizona passed a similar law in 2016 and investors snapped up townhouses in neighborhoods like Paradise Valley to rent on Airbnb. Last month The Wall Street Journal reported neighbors began experiencing noisy house parties and complained of crime at short-term rentals.
Crater strongly believes the ability to regulate short-term rentals should fall under what the Sanibel Plan, while broad, has already laid out.
He also discussed the need for a better connection between the generations on the island. He said there seems to be a “chasm between the younger and older generations here,” but that younger families would support the community in many ways and give more continuity to it.
He would work with the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce and the Realtor organizations to better promote the excellent lifestyle the island can offer young families.
“The perception is Sanibel is a place for retirees, but that is not the case at all,” he said. “It’s a great place for children to grow up.”
Crater has three children who grew up on the island, attended The Sanibel School and played rec sports. He and his wife Dr. Dana Crater, who practices in pediatrics, moved to Sanibel in 2008 from Charleston, S.C., where he trained in Dermatology and practiced for five years. He is currently a partner/owner in Associates in Dermatology, with offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Punta Gorda.