Residents Support Proposed Captiva Bill
From left: Lisa Riordan, land use committee chair, Captiva Civic Association, and Matt DePaolis, SCCF environmental policy director.
On Nov. 30, the Lee County Legislative Delegation Meeting included discussion of a bill that would create a Captiva Island Conservation Area to protect and maintain Captiva’s current building heights and density.
The meeting comes following months of community outpour to protect Captiva from amendments designed to increase building heights and density on Captiva, which would compromise coastal resilience and residents’ and visitors’ quality of life. More than 30 people spoke in favor of the bill at the meeting.
SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis delivered comments, stressing SCCF’s role in ensuring Captiva is conserved and protected for future generations.
“The unique character of the island is more than just a small-town feel or its slower pace of life — it’s based on an inherent value of living in harmony with nature,” DePaolis said. “Low building heights and density have protected Captiva’s status as a sanctuary island for both humans and the environment. Its natural and low-key ambiance attracts tourists from all over the world for an experience that is increasingly rare in Florida. That’s what makes Captiva a leading economic driver of both tourism and real estate in Lee County.”
He continued, “By establishing a Captiva Island Conservation Area, you will limit future development and safeguard the waters, wildlife, and natural mangrove and dune systems that ensure its coastal resilience. This bill would keep height and density in-line with island values, while protecting people’s ability to build back after a storm unhindered. Please vote yes on Rep. Adam Botana’s bill and help us persuade everyone else in Tallahassee that it’s the right call.”
The delegation will hold another meeting to vote on the proposed bill. A majority of the delegation must approve the bill for it to move forward. Lisa Riordan, chair of the land-use committee at the Captiva Civic Association, underscored the need to protect Captiva.
“After seeing the devastation brought by Hurricane Ian, protecting the fragile barrier island of Captiva from increased building heights and resulting increases in density should be a priority for our County Commissioners,” said Riordan. “Instead, they refuse to listen to the strong and united voices of opposition from the islands’ communities and seek to provide favored status to one property owner. It may take some time to stop them but we will continue to work to protect Captiva.”
The Lee County Board of County Commissioners will vote on the Captiva amendments on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the Lee County Comprehensive Plan Amendment Hearing from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Old Lee County Courthouse Commission Chambers (2120 Main Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901).