Leon County Commissioners Discuss Positions on Trespassing Ordinance

Leon County Commissioners Discuss Positions on Trespassing Ordinance

On February 20th, the Leon County Commissioners held a lengthy discussion during their business meeting regarding an ordinance that would prohibit unauthorized solicitation on private property and allow law enforcement to enforce the prohibition on private property with signage posted.

Seldom do all commissioners weigh-in on an issue. However, the proposed ordinance resulted in a discussion that explains why officials supported or opposed the new law.

Commissioner Rick Minor made the motion to adopt the ordinance with and amendment that added language clarifying the term solicit does not pertain to signature gathering, voter registration or advocacy on political issues and candidates.

Minor noted that while the ordinance was not perfect, it was a step in the right direction. Minor said he had spoken to many business owners on Monroe Street who said solicitation was one of their main issues and noted that some of them contemplated leaving the location because of it.

Minor said, “We’ve got to do something. We’ve got to have compassion for the folks on the street. We also have to make sure we’re creating the environment for our businesses to thrive, and right now we aren’t doing it.”

Commissioner Nick Maddox received clarification from law enforcement that upon an offenders first violation of the ordinance, they would receive a warning, and would not be arrested until the second offense. Maddox explained that he felt comfortable supporting the ordinance stating, “To me there’s a lot of chances in between the fine and going to jail.”

Commissioner Brian Welch noted the ordinance is a step in the right direction, stating, “I encourage us to step back and look at the big picture here, which is, we’re trying to allow our businesses to function effectively, to function without fear of harassment and interference.”

Commissioner Christian Caban expressed his support for the motion and noted that the Board has spent millions of dollars to address homelessness with revenue that comes from businesses/property owners. He stated, “I think that it’s very important that while we are actively trying to work on homelessness, that we’re protecting the baseline of our revenue that give us to ability to fund those programs.”

Board Chair Carolyn Cummings expressed her support for the ordinance, noting she herself had dealt with aggressive solicitation. She stated, “This particular ordinance that we have before us weighs, I believe, the health, safety and welfare of all the citizens, the private property owners, which I am one of the private property owners in the downtown area, and also the rights of our homeless and transient population.”

Commissioner David O’Keefe has opposed the ordinance from the beginning of the process. He said the ordinance would do more harm than good by taking away discretion from property owners and ultimately the solicitors would be pushed off of private spaces and onto public spaces instead. He also indicated he did not trust law enforcement to implement the provisions.

O’Keefe claimed there were better ways to address the issue of aggressive solicitors, stating, “If people are soliciting, typically they do it because they need to. So, if they can’t do it in the parking lot, where are they going to go? … They will be pushed onto public spaces, which is where we’ve gotten the most complaints to start with.”

Commissioner Bill Proctor explained he needed additional information before he felt comfortable supporting the ordinance. Proctor explained that while he is empathetic towards the private property owners, he is concerned that the ordinance will increase the number of incarcerated individuals that tax paying Leon County residents will ultimately pay for. He stated “Even the State requires all legislation to have a cost benefit analysis. This lacks that. And for the runaway cost potentially, for this jail that we’re tasked to maintain, this adds additional burden that I’m not sure we can afford.”  

The ordinance passed 5-2 with Commissioners David O’Keefe and Bill Proctor in dissent.

2 Responses to "Leon County Commissioners Discuss Positions on Trespassing Ordinance"

  1. Will TR be doing any investigating reporting on the city manager and mayor misusing staff, resources, and positions for political purposes?

    The city manager used a staff employee, a former a aide to Mayor Dailey to facilitate the O’Keefe agenda item at the last city meeting. Yet another misuse of office and positions have been exposed. This time it is rather serious.

    In addition to the misuse this magnifies the performance or lack thereof of of the mayor and city manager not addressing the high crime rate and other important city issues. This also confirms that the city manager is facilitating the mayors personal vendettas rather than serving the needs and issues of the citizens.

  2. “Commissioner David O’Keefe has opposed the ordinance from the beginning of the process… He also indicated he did not trust law enforcement to implement the provisions.”

    Aaaaannnnd there you have it. Another anti Law and Order and LEO-hating progressively-Marxist Democrat made it into local elected office.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.