Leon County Commission Moves Forward with Panhandling Ordinance Related to Private Property

Leon County Commission Moves Forward with Panhandling Ordinance Related to Private Property

The Leon County Commission voted 6-1 to move forward with an ordinance that would prohibit solicitation and panhandling on private property, but did not address such activities in the median of roadways.

Currently, private property owners and lessees in Tallahassee-Leon County must request an individual be trespassed off of their property or a blanket trespass from law enforcement (i.e. Leon County Sheriff Office or Tallahassee Police Department) that authorizes the removal and/or arrest of any individuals who are not authorized to be on their property. 

Private property owners have shared that the process is cumbersome and does not serve the intended purpose of deterring the activities of panhandling or solicitation. 

However, ordinances in other cities, such as one adopted in Gainesville, allows law enforcement to more quickly address solicitation or panhandling on private property with posted signage.

The 6-1 Board vote directs staff to bring back an agenda item to consider an ordinance that authorizes law enforcement to enforce solicitation and panhandling prohibition on private properties without having to enforce trespassing.

Leon County Commissioner O’Keefe voted against the item, noting his concern that the enforcement of the proposed ordinance will result in an increased chance of a criminal offense – such as resisting arrest.

Panhandling in the Median

The Board also considered the development of a countywide ordinance to promote safety, making it unlawful to hold a sign or display advertisement in a median of a road for any reason. 

The staff noted that several Florida communities have adopted and are enforcing ordinances that make it unlawful to stand, occupy, or otherwise remain in the median of a road.  Pasco County, Lee County, Clay County, and Brevard County have adopted substantially similar ordinances within the past two years.  

In February 2023, the City of Jacksonville adopted an ordinance which in part prohibits occupancy on the median of roadways to promote safety citing data from FDOT studies and other authority. However, staff noted in this case the FDOT data did not specifically identify whether the pedestrian injuries or fatalities were due to standing or remaining on the median of roads or due to another reason.  FDOT shared that such granular data does not exist at this time. 

The Leon County Attorney’s Office has noted that the generalized FDOT data does not by itself establish a correlation between standing in a median and holding a sign or advertisement and pedestrian injuries or fatalities and, as a result, the data may not be sufficient justification to adopt a countywide ordinance that would hold up in court.

The Board agreed with the County Attorney’s assessment and did not move forward with the proposed ordinance related to panhandling in the median of a roadway.

19 Responses to "Leon County Commission Moves Forward with Panhandling Ordinance Related to Private Property"

  1. Logic…. I give to the homeless problem when I pay my taxes. If that isn’t enough, that is not my problem, and I should not have to drive though intersections with people begging for money. If our current elected officials can’t deal with the issue, then we need to get elect new ones. By encouraging the homeless to continue begging in the streets, this problem will only continue to get worse. It will take more homeless people getting hit before this problem gets the needed attention. We don’t need a study to tell us that hanging out in the median(right next to moving cars) is dangerous. The other thing about the N Monroe corridor that never seems to be addressed is the lighting. This area has shadows in the road that at night makes much of the roadway really dark. Add a few homeless people crossing in these dark spots(or standing in the median begging for money), and sooner or later one of them will get hit.

  2. Please keep in mind that many of these people panhandling are ‘trafficked’ and have a person that drops them off to beg – then they must give a portion of what they ‘earn’ to their person. These people are being abused. Police can stop this from being profitable.

  3. All panhandling should be stopped. Tired of folks especially on Sundays on North Monore begging for money- little children are with adults learning dangerous and bad habits.

  4. A few weeks ago, I watched firefighters or another government entity in and out traffic, and in the median with buckets requesting donations. Listen, if you want to see Law enforcement move real fast enforcing people off the medians and walking to cars while yraffic is stopped? The moment a Christian ?? offers a “free” Plan of Salvation, some folk get perturbed and call the police saying they are “offended” …officers will arrive trying to cite laws and codes which do not exist. I know this happens in Leon County; it’s happened to myself and others. (I am not referring to those asking motorists for money). My advice, know and follow the law; and know your legal rights as well.

  5. I empathize with the drivers who are just trying to navigate the roads and people are stumbling down and intoxicated in and out of the medians into the road all over this town. And whomever hits one, their life is changed forever too. Its irresponsible not to protect everyone involved. The unhoused, AND the drivers. I saw a man laying down, passed out on a median, with his legs in the road. People were having to swerve around him at the last minute. This was on Magnolia. I called TPD. They informed me that they had several calls about it. I asked him how long people had been calling…they said about an hour or so.
    This guy could have been deceased in the road, and no one came out. If we are this thinly staffed, then news laws and new ordinances that remove these risk should be common sense. Delaying it because there is not a specific study confirming the intention of the pedestrians, that have been struck and killed, definitely seems like a hidden agenda. Clearly its not common sense.

  6. Kim or Karen?? Not caring… People are not all the same all the time. Please understand that some are more fortunate than others. You take the silver spoon out of your…. And look around. Trade shoes for a day and we’ll talk turkey. Otherwise tend yours

  7. My Goodness! Is there no common sense on the issue of Panhandlers on the medians or sidewalks? Of course it is dangerous for the Panhandler and Driver. There does not need a study for this! Most homeless panhandlers are drunk or high….they are not paying attention to Drivers because they are impaired.; Plus the amount of Drivers and speed of cars does not equal safety. And why on earth should the County Commission be so concerned about the homeless? They are not taxpayers. The County Commission should listen to the taxpayers who are saying clean up the homeless mess by passing ordinances that protect the public from the homeless.

  8. I saw a Young Man and Woman with two Children that looked to be 5 and 6 Years of age standing in the Median not to long ago.

  9. Another issue not addressed by our leftist county board. Visitors to the county love to see a panhandler at every corner.

  10. I agree that standing on a median is not a safe thing to do no matter if you are holding a sign or not. However, passing an ordinance against panhandling on private property…which is the same thing as begging…simply because because the property owner finds the laws against trespassing too cumbersome is not the answer. All too often, police are called for non-criminal matters. Resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and interference of governmental functions are charges that are too often abused to arrest people when they are not breaking the law to begin with.

  11. How long has this been a problem? At least 15 years. The basic duties of government, such as law enforcement, have taken a backseat to liberal agenda goals such as a T-Pain monument or painting BLM on the road.

  12. So… O’Keefe takes the position that upholding the law is a bad thing because it might make lawbreakers break more laws?

    … I have a headache now

  13. “……. an ordinance that would prohibit solicitation and panhandling on private property”

    SO……I guess the little Kiddies will no longer be allowed to sell Lemon Aide on the Driveways while holding a Sign anymore.

  14. If you tell them that “their” children must all go stand in the median and collect money, I bet they would change it in record time. The stupidity is a mind numbing

  15. It continues to be a sad day in Tallahassee and Leon County when Common Sense is sideswiped by the lack of a study, etc. We elect Commissioners to make those decisions based on their collective experiences and judgements.

    But, this is yet another example of staff ruling the roost, making recommendations that are unsound or would not benefit a developer, campaign contributor, or their own hidden agendas.

  16. If the county attorney needs a panel of peer reviewed studies that all say standing in the middle of the road and begging for money from drivers speeding by is dangerous before they will do anything about it? They need to follow Ms.Jackson’s lead and quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.