Monday, August 14, 2006

Strike 3 for Sarasota?

Sarasota’s third try at an ordinance banning “lodging out-of doors” is back in court today.

Two prior versions of the ordinance were overturned as unconstitutional.

The ordinance bans activities such as “being asleep atop or covered by materials in a public place.”

An attorney and homeless advocate battling Sarasota's decision calls the no-lodging ordinance an ambiguous edict that violates equal protection laws by targeting the homeless. Saying the vague language of the ordinance gives police too much latitude in deciding who to arrest and who to leave alone, Chris Cosden asked: What is the difference between a vacationing sunbather who naps on the beach and a sleeping transient who dozes off in the park?

Sarasota’s effort to stop homeless people from staying overnight in public places sparked an intense debate about how the city should deal with the transient population. It also earned the city the dubious honor of being named the meanest city in the nation by the National Coalition for the Homeless. See previous post here.

Read the Sarasota Herald-Tribune story here.