Following the advice of the city attorney, Sarasota city commissioners decided Wednesday it would be unwise to respond to a downtown-resident petition and immediately restrict homeless feedings in Selby Five Points Park.
“I recommend you get more information before you act,” City Attorney Bob Fournier told the commission. “We need sufficient, clear, credible testimony about what’s happening at the feedings that residents find objectionable.”
More than 100 downtown residents have signed a petition that asks the city change its law that requires a permit when more than 75 people gather in a public park, so that limit is lowered to 12 people.
Their target is the frequent feedings in Selby Five Points Park. They say, however, they don’t object to the homeless getting a free meal. Instead, they say they object to the large number of homeless who loiter in the park after the feeding and begin drinking, doing drugs, fighting and panhandling.
Fournier advised that the city collect facts on all those alleged activities, so it will have a proven case if a new ordinance is challenged in court.
Commissioners said they wanted to start gathering that evidence, in case they want to explore restrictions in the future.
Contact Robin Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org.