Sanibel is a city located in Lee County, Florida. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 6,064.
The city is on Sanibel Island on the Gulf coast of southwestern Florida, and is linked to the mainland by a toll causeway. A short bridge over Blind Pass links Sanibel to the unincorporated town of Captiva on Captiva Island.
The main town is at the eastern end of the island, while the community of Santiva (a portmanteau of Sanibel and Captiva) is at the northwestern end. The city was formed in 1974 as a direct result of the main causeway being built in 1963 to replace the ferry, and the rampant construction and development that Lee County was allowing to occur afterward. Developers sued over the new restrictions, but the city and citizens prevailed in their quest to protect the island. The only buildings above two to three stories now on the barrier island were built during that period.
The most serious hurricane damage in 44 years (since Hurricane Donna in 1960) occurred in August 2004 when Hurricane Charley struck to the north. Thanks to the city's very strict building codes, very few buildings were seriously damaged, and none were destroyed. Residents who left before the August 13th storm were not allowed back by the city government until August 18th, due to hundreds of downed Australian pine trees and power lines, and the lack of potable water and sanitary sewer. A temporary city hall for Sanibel was set up on the mainland in a Fort Myers hotel, until utilities and transport could be restored to the island.
The city's most well-known resident is U.S. Representative Porter Goss, also nominated to head the CIA.
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