Tampa Again Cracking Down On Homeless

TAMPA – The city took steps Thursday to crack down on the behavior of Tampa’s homeless residents, responding to business complaints of aggressive panhandling and people urinating in parking lots.

The Tampa City Council gave tentative approval to two new rules. One measure bans aggressive panhandling downtown and in Ybor City. That means no more asking passers-by for money outside ATMs, restaurants and bus stops, among other places.

The second measure bans living outdoors, storing personal possessions in public spaces and urinating or defecating on sidewalks and parking lots. Repeat offenders could be arrested after three strikes — but only if the city has provided them alternatives they refuse to use.

The proposal are the Tampa’s latest attempt to find a solution to its homeless problem.

Over the past two years, city officials have banned panhandling from drivers on city streets and worked with the county to open a 24-unit apartment complex for homeless people near the University of South Florida.

Tampa Police Capt. Marc Hamlin said the measures debated Thursday will give police some leverage when dealing with the city’s 700 or so chronically homeless people, who often refuse help.

“Our intention is not to arrest our way out of this problem,” Hamlin said. “This helps us force people to get help when they don’t want to help themselves.”

Read more at TBO