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Alternatively, the name may derive, as many believe, from "(Santa) Ybel", which survives in the old placename "Point Ybel", where the Sanibel Island Light is located.How it would have gotten this name, however, is a matter of conjecture.The City of Sanibel passed new restrictions on development after it was incorporated; these were challenged by developers, to no avail.Currently the only buildings on the island taller than two stories date before 1974, and there are no fast food or chain restaurants allowed on the island except a Dairy Queen and a Subway, which were on the island before the laws were enacted.Developers sued over the new restrictions, but the city and citizens prevailed in their quest to protect the island.
In May 1963 a causeway linking Sanibel and Captiva to the mainland was opened, resulting in an explosion of growth.
Like most of the lore surrounding Gasparilla, however, this story is apocryphal, as the above references to recognizable variants of the name predate the buccaneer's supposed reign.
Sanibel is not the only island in the area to figure prominently in the legends of Gaspar; Captiva, Useppa, and Gasparilla are also connected.
It is a barrier island – a collection of sand on the leeward side of the more solid coral-rock of Pine Island.
Most of the city proper is at the east end of the island.
A new causeway was completed in 2007; it replaced the worn out 1963 spans, which were not designed to carry heavy loads or large numbers of vehicles.