Tallahassee Homeless Ordinance Creates Conversation In Gainesville

 Construction continues on Bo Diddley Community Plaza, a once population spot for homeless downtown. The city of Gainesville will work collaboratively to amend the issue.
Construction continues on Bo Diddley Community Plaza, a once popular spot for homeless downtown. Some officials in Gainesville hope to work collaboratively to amend the concerns raised about homelessness in public spaces. Elizabeth Brown / WUFT

Tallahassee recently introduced an ordinance regarding stricter repercussions for actions and behaviors of the homeless in parks and public spaces.

The ordinance, discussed at a public hearing on June 24, would make it illegal for people to sleep on park benches, sleep in the park when it is closed, or make and display signs

The ordinance is titled “Providing for the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Providing for Authority to Issue Trespass Warnings in City Parks.”

Barbara Graves, the recording secretary for the Tallahassee City Commission, said the issue has not been voted on yet and will be discussed at a later meeting.

With Gainesville having a sizable homeless population, city officials would like to create a less punitive solution.

Stacy Scott, public defender for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, said Mayor Ed Braddy contacted her about finding a more collaborative way to solve issues of homelessness in Gainesville.

She doesn’t expect an ordinance for Gainesville soon, and she doesn’t believe it is the best way to go about the problem.

Scott is concerned with the homeless being targeted and thinks there needs to be a compassionate solution. She wants to assemble a group of people who will work on making sure people don’t have to sleep outside.

But, she also understands business owners’ concerns.

Cory Lineback, owner and manager of The Gelato Company, said sometimes people will panhandle or disturb his customers who dine outside.

He has given hungry homeless people free sandwiches, he said. As a business owner, however, he wants to make sure his customers feel comfortable.

Lineback said his main goal is to ensure his restaurant is an inviting environment, and sometimes the homeless population is an issue. With the reconstruction of Bo Diddley Community Plaza, he thinks stricter rules should be in place.

“We’re not cold-hearted people,” he said. “But it’s a common sense issue.”

About Elizabeth Brown

Elizabeth is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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