Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Another effort by the city of Sarasota to run the bums out of town?

A county judge in Sarasota is deciding whether the city’s new no-lodging ordinance is constitutional. Expect a ruling in the next few weeks.

The ordinance prohibits using public or private property for "lodging" outdoors without the property owner's permission. Read the whole ordinance here.

But what is "lodging"? Miriam Webster says its "sleeping accommodations." (See the whole definition here.) So is it lodging if I fall asleep in the park? Or do I have to have "accommodations," like maybe a pillow?

The lodging rule is Sarasota’s second try at preventing the homeless from camping outside – "just another effort by the city of Sarasota to run the bums out of town," as assistant public defender Chris Cosden put it in his defense of eight people arrested on charges of violating the no-lodging ordinance.

The no-lodging ordinance was adopted after another judge ruled last year that the city’s controversial "no-camping" ordinance was unconstitutional. The no-camping ordinance, which resulted in more than 500 arrests over two years, outlawed sleeping outside at night on top of or under blankets or cardboard. A circuit judge ruled last year that it punished "harmless, inoffensive conduct that they [homeless persons] are forced to perform in public."

Read the story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune here.

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