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Laws Aimed At Homeless Pass Unanimously

City leaders unanimously approved three laws targeting the homeless - making it illegal to sit on the sidewalk, camp overnight and increasing the penalty for soliciting to up to 60 days in jail at the City Council meeting Thursday.

City leaders unanimously approved that will make it illegal to sit on the sidewalk, camp overnight and increasing the penalty for soliciting to up to 60 days in jail at the City Council meeting Thursday.

Officials will vote once again on the rules at their Aug. 2 meeting before they go into effect.

Ordinance (8347-12) makes it unlawful to sit or lie down in the right-of-way in the East Gateway District, downtown and within the Beach Walk area from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. This would include places like public docks, piers, boardwalks and sidewalks.

Violators would not be fined on the first offense and will be given the chance to relocate to a place where sitting or lying down is allowed. Sitting or lying down is allowed in these instances:

  • In a park or public beach
  • Because of a medical emergency
  • Sitting on a chair or bench as it is intended
  • Use of a wheelchair, a baby carriage, or like conveyance
  • As part of activities like a parade, festival, performance, rally, demonstration or meeting
  • Sitting at a sidewalk café  
  • Sitting or lying down when it is an integral part of a protest accompanied by incidents of speech such as signs or literature explaining the protest

Another ordinance (8313-12) leaders approved makes it unlawful for someone to camp outside, unless approved by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Officers will be required under the ordinance to give a person with no permanent or temporary residence two chances to find a shelter or some other place to relocate before citing them with a violation.

If public or private shelter space is not available in Pinellas County, officers will not be able to cite the violator. Officers are also required to ensure any of that person’s private property is stored at the station for up to 60 days.

City leaders also approved moving the soliciting ordinance to Chapter 21 of the city’s code, which makes it so violators could face up to 60 days in jail, depending on the discretion of the arresting officer.

Already individuals were not allowed to solicit from drivers in travel lanes on public streets and while in public parking lots and garages. If caught violators are given a fine, now they could get jail time.

People can still apply for a permit to legally solicit up to 10 times (days) a year.

Larry Jaffe July 20, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Fantastic News!
Janet July 20, 2012 at 07:24 AM
Unfortunately, for some people living a life as a "homeless person" is not by choice. Each has a different story or maybe even the same story. Loss of income would be my guess - -. Where would the City like for them to sleep? Budget cuts?? Some homeless people are mentally challenge, others like this life style with no desire to change. Then there are the ones who lost jobs, careers, homes & now have to rely on the Soup Kitchen for food. Sadly, the alcoholic or drug addict are doomed unless they seek out help. I don't like to see anyone living this life, either. I've seen a homeless man for over a week. He has all his worldly possessions in a grocery cart and trying to keep a low profile all while being in plain view. I support the City for the 3 laws that were passed regarding the homeless. If only I could help the wealthy see & learn how the homeless live. Then I would sincerely pray for a person of means to acknowledge the needs of the homeless who lost their way and are desperate to return to the life they knew. And, to regain the most important part of their being - which is "Pride" that was lost when their own world collapsed.
Merrill July 20, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Agreed Janet...this is so sad. And then to give enforcers the right to determine whther a seized homeless person's posessions are of any value...that is OUTRAGEOUS... what seems unimportant and insignificant to one person may be essential to another. This law is heartless and not a solution...
GaryFla July 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Perhaps Merrill and Janet would be willing to share their lives with a homeless person, provide them with clean clothing and direct them to an entry level position to start to regain their pride? Janet suggests the wealthy can look after them, and Merrill has no suggestions other than howling at their rights violation.
BuckeyeTom August 01, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Finally a person with a brain and heartfelt feelings makes a comment here. I work to support a food bank in the Phoenix area and I know there are a zillion stories of why people are homeless. The local Govs of this world need to really look at their issues, find common threads and set to work to fix the situation. We've become too systemic in our approach. By that I mean that a one-size-fix does not apply to all the people that need help. I like your words Janet.
BuckeyeTom August 01, 2012 at 05:31 AM
To GaryFla, this is what we try to do in Arizona. At least we are trying without welding our restrooms shut. Life has its limits and we rich people whe have hit bottom know where those limits are, Let's help, rather than judge. More solutions stave from that rather than condeming.
GaryFla August 01, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Buckeye, I'm not certain I understand what you believe the solution is to this unfortunate situation.
david joseph picou February 26, 2013 at 05:46 PM
As a homeless veteran, I am not looking to make this a lifestyle until I die, I am not an addict of any kind, nor do I solicite/panhandle people. But even from my perspective I understand the frustrations of people who aren't homeless. There are those that are quite happy with the lifestyle on the streets, drugging and drinking, and manipulating others to feel sorry for them to get what they want. In these cases, I don't see that there is a solution. How do you make someone want better for their life ?

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