The Leon County Commissioners approved the repeal of the current ordinance in Chapter 11, Article VIII, regarding soliciting. The Board also addressed drafting a law to address issues involving indecent behavior and approved a reallocation of $491,000 to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) for two new officer positions.
Ultimately, Chair Bill Proctor’s motion to repeal and amend the current ordinance, draft a new ordinance and allocate funds for the HOST deputy positions passed in a 4-3 vote. Commissioners Maddox, Dozier, and Jimbo Jackson were in opposition. Commissioner Proctor, Welch, Minor, and Cummings voted for the changes.
Recently, Leon County has received increased complaints regarding individuals obstructing, camping, soliciting, and exhibiting indecent behavior, such as defecating/urinating in public areas. In most cases, the complaints involve individuals experiencing homelessness.
Chapter 11, Article VIII of the Code of Laws of Leon County currently prohibits soliciting in/on the median of any street within Leon County. Additionally, another ordinance in Chapter 13 prohibits soliciting in county parks. However, the only mention of sleeping or camping in public areas is in Chapter 13, where camping is defined as “temporary stays for recreational purposes.”
There are currently no regulations for the acts of public urination and defecation in the Leon County Code of Laws.
The situation is complicated by recent case law that has changed how the courts evaluate the constitutionality of local ordinances involving solicitation. Recently, federal courts have ruled that a solicitation is a form of constitutionally protected free speech, which poses a significant problem for any legislation to ban or otherwise limit this kind of behavior.
As a result, the LCSO has determined that it will not enforce current ordinances in cases where existing state and local laws do not provide law enforcement agencies with adequate legal authority.
County Administrator Vincent Long stressed to the Board that the issues being discussed have become a significant problem in larger cities nationally and are becoming a greater issue locally.
“As it stands now, on any street in Leon County, you can put up a tent permanently and sleep there. On any residential, city, or county street, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it,” Long emphasized. He said by drafting an ordinance, you have at least the option to deal with the conduct from a regulatory standpoint, even as a last resort. He added that the county can always offer its services first and foremost.
The amendment to the current ordinance will alter it so that it is more consistent with recent federal cases. In addition, the county will draft an ordinance to address the individuals who are camping and urinating/defecating in public areas. The new law would ensure the safety of individuals experiencing homelessness and protect those citizens near the situation.
The county made it clear that the new ordinances are not intended to criminalize those persons for being homeless but set precedence for conduct.
Commissioner Carolyn Cummings stated the county needs to have an ordinance and that they would be “derelict as elected officials” if they ignored the option to do so. Cummings asserted an ordinance would give the community notice and grant the county a procedure to handle these situations with dignity while protecting the citizens.
However, Commissioners Kristin Dozier and Nick Maddox were against drafting any ordinances before allowing the LSCO to take action with two new Homelessness Outreach Street Team (HOST) deputies to see what kind of response they may have.
The $491,000 approved for the HOST deputy positions will be reallocated from the county’s disbursement of Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to the LCSO’s budget. The funds will support two HOST deputies, whose responsibilities are to connect individuals to available housing services.
The personnel and operating expenses are estimated to be around $80,000 for the remainder of 2022 and then $100,000 for 2023. The first-year costs also include initial capital assets, including a vehicle, radio, and equipment totaling $67,000 per position.
Do we have a law against panhandling? If we don’t then we should. Once a law is on the books then the police officers must enforce the law. This would make some homeless move to bigger cities while others would use the resources available in town rather than panhandle. The homeless like to panhandle at a few of the Wal-Marts and some live in the woods nearby the stores. They also frequently go into the Wal-Marts and steal items and leave trash everywhere. Also, please vote out Matlow and Porter. We don’t want to end up like California or New York because of there Socialist ideas.
Evidently my comments were not liked by the liberals since it was not posted!
I’ll try again – unless Tallahassee wants to be like California’s LA then something has to be done to stop the problems we are experiencing.
Pensacola street runs between FSU, TCC & A&M – it is now literally full of homeless individuals, crime, trash, sex offenders, drugs, etc. All of these Universities bring in major bucks to the city & county! I doubt very seriously that the parents of any of these students would send their child
here if they new the dangers within a mile of their classes.
I suggest Tallahassee & Leon county vote for what is good for its tax paying citizens and but individuals in office that will clean up this mess before it gets any worse.
I did a quick search on Google and found more than a dozen shelters and places that assist with drug rehab, homeless mothers, abuse, teens, elders and more. Within our area there are places that could be temporary and/or assist with more permanent solutions. Many of these places are staffed with professionals that make it their life’s work to help the needy.
I believe, I and many others have great compassion for those who are without shelter or means because of medical problems or hard luck. I know because I have cared for them in hospitals and clinics.
The Spider said it well – that not everyone wants to change. We can’t force that nor do I want to. However, this county is our home. I don’t let anyone come into my home and defecate or urinate without using my toilets, or destroy my home. The county is also my home.
“Commissioners Kristin Dozier and Nick Maddox were against drafting any ordinances” until we try the new HOST deputies. That is double speak for lets kick the can down the road because we really don’t want to do anything! I can also tell you from personal experience, that our current deputies treat the less fortunate of our community with great understanding.
We don’t need new titles – they are already doing the job!
The city commissioners need to put rules/laws in place for our ‘home’ to keep it safe. I don’t want to see people peeing or defecating in public, smell it, need to clean it up, or walk in it! I don’t want to walk around people sleeping on the ground! I don’t want to be solicited every time I go out and stop at a corner. I don’t want to feel threatened while getting into my car!
Please let me know if anyone agrees with me, or if you have other ideas to you feel would work better.
I agree with Skeptic.
I been homeless. They need all the help they can get. But you also have to be determined not to stay that way. First opportunity I had, I grabbed it and never ever went back. I learned however, not everyone else wants that. A few have no cares in the world and are content. it’s Just freaking amazing
The Leon County Commissioners, Tallahassee City Commission and the Tallahassee Mayor have no idea what to do about the homeless-absolutely no ideas.
I have some questions.
1. It is not clear to me – has the ordinance been made? Where is the draft?
2. If there is no ordinance than why put in place the HOST deputy positions? Seems like the cart before the horse.
3. What happened to the social service unit under the police that was approved this year? Can they make recommendations and assist?
I dont feel like a lot of people are against the homeless or against helping the homeless.
I do feel a lot of people with reasonable sense are against allowing the woke leftists, which our Democrat voting majority population elect time and time again, controlling the spending of our tax dollars in the nonsensical way leftists such as the Biden Administration have done nationally.
Leftists typically try to enrich themselves and friends and family while throwing money at a problem in inefficient ways. Thats how it is in socialist countries and thats how it is in Tallahassee/Leon County.
You can placate yourselves by saying “well at least they are trying to do something” but the truth world wide is leftists are not successful in positions of leadership other than being pretty good at enriching themselves and friends and family. Yeah they are pretty good at that. So hopefully readers can understand how difficult it is for people with common sense watch leftists controlling our hard earned tax dollars.
When there is no room at the Inn,
shall we fine those who sleep outdoors?
For some people, the shelters are frightening, unsafe, full of others who may be addicted or hostile.
They are crowded and it can feel hard to breathe, hard to function….
Imagine this for yourself.
It’s a healthier choice for some people to sleep in fresh air. For some it’s healthier to stay outside and be able to protect themselves from the harms that can exist inside shelters.
What we need are better options.
When people choose trouble, sometimes it’s because that’s actually the best of bad options.
Living outside is really, really hard. Terribly hard.
Many things are hard.
My mom was German, she grew up during WWII in Germany. She saw her neighbors eating grass to survive. Doing terrible things.
It never occurred to me to think that these people were making stupid choices. It never occurred to me to blame them for doing these bad and stupid things. Because I understood that there were no good options.
My mother’s extended family had a farm out in the country, away from the bombings. My mother and her sister went to the family farm in the countryside. They had enough food to survive, and made it through the war. She was lucky.
Just like we who have jobs and homes are lucky. We aren’t smarter. We are just lucky. Yes we work hard. So do the homeless. To manage life being homeless is really hard.
Anyone reading this can try a month of living on the street with no money, and see for yourself.
Of course it’s not good to eat grass.
Of course it’s not good to sleep by the edge of a high way.
People are doing these things because they feel it’s their best option.
What if we try assuming they’re right?
Some people have terrible things happen in shelters. Some people get attacked my other people or animals sleeping in the woods. Some people get beaten when they sleep out of view behind buildings. It could be the smartest choice to sleep on a sidewalk in open view by a road.
Who are we to judge?
Who are we, who haven’t faced those experiences, to have any opinion on these choices?
Have any of you ever been censored by Tallahassee Reports?
It just happened to me on what I thought was a very “plain vanilla” comment I submitted on this article. I’m not sure what the rules are to determine if a comment is worthy of posting.
My comment didn’t call anyone a name, didn’t contain any profanity or express an “off-the-wall” crazy rant that most readers would be offended by. My only mistake may have been that it was a comment that represented a conservative point-of-view. Perhaps comments in that direction are not welcome at Tallahassee Reports.
It would be unfortunate if Tallahassee Reports is starting to follow the likes of Facebook, Twitter and The Democrat. Perhaps they also are now censoring views that don’t complement their agenda.
I thought all opinions were welcome here when I first started to read the articles. Based on this experience, that no longer seems to be the policy at Tallahassee Reports.
You were not censored. Some comments are flagged for review and take longer to post. Steve Stewart
“The county made it clear that the new ordinances are not intended to criminalize those persons for being homeless but set precedence for conduct.”
These words don’t mean anything. It creates new criminal penalties and “precedence” for an individual’s personal conduct shouldn’t be legislated by county ordinance.
R.B. Holmes’ govt-funded Bethel newspaper just named Vince Long its person of the year. With all the Blueprint, city and county ads appearing on TR, are they getting a two-for-one these days?
No doubt about it, if a person or family who is a resident of Leon County and becomes homeless, we should take care of them and help them get back on their feet.
However, if some freeloader, that never lived here, comes to Tallahassee to suck off the tit of the local taxpayers, they should be sent back from where they came. Put them on a bus, plane, car, truck, boat, roller-skates, scooter or whatever to get them out of town.
That would be cheaper than supporting them with our local services and charities and have them taking up room in our shelters. That local support should be reserved only for our residents who have fallen on hard times. Let’s start taking care of our own Leon County.
Until people stop giving them money they won’t stop asking for it. I highly doubt this liberal city is going to do anything about it this problem.
The people running our local governments are cretins…all of them.
Still seems like the typical leftist method of addressing anything they can see their constituancy perceives as a problem.
Throw lots of money at it, enrich a few fellow leftist travelers along the way, and your constituents likely will believe you really care about whatever the issue is.
Unfortunately homeless issues run much deeper than throwing money will fix. Really folks we need a better class of politicians first. Then we can address the local issues.
Arm the homeless!
More misuse of the China Bio-Weapon Flu funds that were designated to help citizens pay their rent and utilities.
More wasted tax dollars in yet another futile attempt to eliminate a problem that has been around since the beginning of time, and will remain until the end of time.
More wasted tax dollars to add to the billions already wasted on people who don’t care about much of anything except how to get their next bottle of booze and/or bag of weed.
More wasted tax dollars on people who do not – and may never have – paid any taxes at all.
More wasted tax dollars on left-wing progressive virtue signaling in hopes of getting the “reelect me because I care” votes.
… more tax dollar waste from an existing waste of tax dollars
I’d be happy if the County and City put up signs saying, “…do not feed the bums under penalty of law”. Secondly, it doesn’t help that our Walmarts let them feed for free inside the store. Bums can eat anything in Walmart they want without any criminal action being taken against them. For that matter, a lot of Walmart employees are stealing while on duty, also.
And throwing more money at the problem….these commissioners need to be voted out. Did you know the City actually paid a Park Manager to fly to Denver and study their methods of dealing with the homeless? Throwing money at everything is the liberal way. Couldn’t have use Zoom or just made a phone call….no, had to fly out person to Denver.
Imagine a world where a government mandates that everyone cover their face “for the health and safety of others” but allows urinating and defecating on public property because, well, “freedom”!
Rod Serling would have so much fun with this…..
1- More money to hire two new re-election campaign operatives for the sheriff…
2- Commissioners Dozier, Maddox, and Jackson are idiots…