County Commissioners to Consider Draft Ordinance Addressing Homeless Issues

County Commissioners to Consider Draft Ordinance Addressing Homeless Issues

On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, Leon County Commissioners will hear an update on a request they made during the December 14 meeting to draft new laws regarding solicitation, camping in public areas, and public defecation or urination.

In December, the commissioners, in a 4-3 vote, requested county staff to draft an ordinance that repeals Chapter 11, Article VIII of the Code of Laws, Entitled Solicitation on Public Street. The draft addresses the increasing complaints by residents related to individuals experiencing homelessness who are soliciting, camping/sleeping, and defecating or urinating in certain public areas.

Tallahassee Reports has previously covered this issue.

In the ordinance, the term “solicitation” refers to activities such as selling items or soliciting charitable donations, often conducted within medians. According to the report, the draft ordinance “would make it unlawful to hold a sign in a median for any reason and would apply countywide (inclusive of the City of Tallahassee).”

In addition, the ordinance recommends the penalties be consistent with statutory penalties, which are currently $15 per violation. Lastly, for those concerned with their right to free speech, the sidewalks would remain available to do so.

Regarding camping/sleeping in public areas, the ordinance declares “a person would be prohibited from camping in a public area without the permission of the property owner.” Public areas are defined as “public property and private property which is open to the public or in public view;” examples are parking lots, driveways, and parks.

A Street Outreach Team member, a person trained to provide information about available social services, will reach out to an individual who is found to be camping/sleeping in a public area without permission. The team member will determine if a shelter is needed and will aid in connecting them with those sources.

Finally, if the homeless individual refuses the offered assistance, the person may be cited as a violation under the ordinance. Law enforcement may obtain compliance through “warning, notice, or education” and may do so only after the Street Outreach Team member has made efforts to give aid.

If a person does not comply and law enforcement cannot obtain compliance, then a violator may be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, “the violator is subject to a fine not to exceed $500 or up to 60 days imprisonment or both.”

Concerning public urination or defecation, the ordinance makes it illegal in certain public areas not designated for that use. The proposed penalty is a $50 fine.

Currently, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of hiring and training two Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) Deputies. During the December 14 meeting, the commissioners approved the allocation of approximately $491 thousand in funding to support the HOST deputies. The HOST deputies’ responsibilities focus on connecting individuals to available housing and various social services and programs.

8 Responses to "County Commissioners to Consider Draft Ordinance Addressing Homeless Issues"

  1. Citizens need to start showing up at these meetings. The commissioners will do other things while you are speaking like; talk among themselves, put out tweets, update fakebook status, check emails, ignore you, etc but you still need to attend the meeting and speak out. I know it takes time away from your already busy life but the commissioners need to be micromanaged and see that we care about what they are trying to do/not do. The homeless issue is a big one. It has gotten progressively worse and more violent over the years as leaders are afraid to take a stand against their donors. Supposedly, there has already been 35 MILLION dollars in the past year spent on “homelessness” in Leon County alone. What do we have to show for our money as it stands today? And now we have “Covid funds” being used to have 2 H.O.S.T. deputies out there to connect the homeless to resources? I thought that was a social worker job. Deputies are law enforcers. Social workers are social enforcers. Matters not how much money is spent, it only encourages the status quo. Take for instance, one of the craziest policies was to shut down/limit the Homeless Shelter and force hotels to accommodate the homelessness during Covid. Who thought that one up? That is why we now have the North Monroe Task Force instituted by the commissioners to attempt to fix the problem they created. Odd way of doing things. The County Attorney is right where we can not criminalize the “homeless” status but if the “homeless” person chooses not to accept to abide by the laws/ordinances/statutes whatever you want to call them, then yes they should be criminalized just like a “homed” person would be. If they need mental help, they need to be taken to a mental health facility. If they are jobless, take them to facilities that assist in cleaning up, interview skills and get them in a job. Good God Almighty, there are plenty of jobs right now! If they are engaging or wanted for criminal activity, they are taken to the jail. If they are lost and need a way home, get them the transportation back to their home. Serving the least among us does not mean to enable. It means to give them a hand to get back on their own feet.
    Thankfully, it is campaign season and the commissioners need election points so I am sure we will see some profound policy making tonight.

  2. I am not so sure there is any such thing as “homeless”. I think there are some folks who just aren’t “home”…So check the ID of the panhandler-urinator-whatever and buy him or her a bus ticket to the address on their ID which is very probably their home.. Problem solved.

  3. The County’s proposal is laughable and reflects they have no idea how to deal with the homeless. The penalty for camping out at Lake Ella and peeing on the sidewalk if a fine. Does the Commision really believe a bum is going to pay a fine? Will the Commision issue warrants to those that haven’t paid their Pee Fine on time? Maybe a free bus ride is appropriate for the Bum to take him to pay his fine. What if the Bum wants to contest his charge? Will the State provide a Public Defender? Liberals never hold anyone accountable. Face it, Liberals are weak on crime and clueless on dealing with the homeless. But you can count on them to always raise your taxes.

    You could just stop giving the Bums money and food. Instead direct them to the homeless center but remind them they have to be a Florida Resident to stay there.

  4. “Solving or fixing” problems is never on any leftist politicians agenda. What is on leftist agendas is the spending of massive money in the name of problems with the goal being getting reelected through enriching friends and associates which generates political contributions. The leftist politicians all know at some point if problems get bad enough most communities will elect conservatives that will fix problems.
    So you see it is totally unreasonable to expect our current crop of elected nannies to fix problems.
    Not gonna happen.

  5. The commissioners must be job scared, that is the only time the ever try to do anything about a real problem.
    I was at the light at Blairstone rd. and Apalachee pkwy yesterday. A homeless man was throwing a large stick high up in the air like a baton right next to traffic. I had to slam on the brakes to keep from running into him while he tried to catch his stick. As I sat there at the light he started throwing it again right next to my truck. I told him if he hit my truck, he was going to have a problem. He became unhinged and started screaming at the poor woman in the car behind me.
    The commissioners have created this problem, and it’s going to take more than lip service to fix it.

  6. Numerous task teams, countless consultant studies, and millions upon millions upon millions of tax dollars wasted on feckless ideas and promises to fix the unfixable… but hey, let’s fine them $50 for craping on someone’s door step… that’ll do it.

    … and around the mountain we go… AGAIN

  7. Better late than never… County Commissioners were too preoccupied before with their re-election campaigns, double-dipping jobs (Nick Maddox), illegally voting taxpayer funds to J T Burnette, illegally giving Waste Pro contract to Gary Yordon/Scott Maddox’s client, junkets to Sandestin and Amelia Island, illegally diverting infrastructure funds to a football stadium, etc…

    Note to Voters: Wake- Up!!

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