House panel advances ban on unpermitted public sleeping

A critic said this bill ignored the 'root cause' of homelessness.

Sleeping rough will get even rougher by October if a House committee has its way.

If Floridians want to camp on public property, public buildings or public rights-of-way, they’re going to need a permit if a new bill from Rep. Sam Garrison becomes law.

“This problem is not going away, and it’s getting worse,” said Garrison, pitching his “carrot and stick” proposal as taking a “hard line” to protect “public space.”

HB 1365 bans counties and municipalities from permitting public sleeping or public camping on public property without explicit permission, in a move deemed by the bill language to fulfill an “important state interest.”

The Orange Park Republican told the House Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee that the bill represented a “Florida model” of dealing with unhoused populations, many of whom end up in jail as the only way they get material help.

“One of the greatest challenges facing our nation is the challenge involving the chronically unsheltered homeless. It’s a national tragedy and sadly Florida, while our situation is nowhere near as acute or as all encompassing as other parts of the nation, (is) not immune,” Garrison said.

The sponsor added that his bill “would allow cities and counties in their discretion to designate specific areas for public sleeping or public camping under the following conditions under the supervision and determination of the Department of Children and Families.”

Those conditions include clean restrooms, running water, security on premises and bans on drugs and alcohol.

Furthermore, Garrison said the campsite “must be placed in a location that does not negatively affect the value or security of nearby residential or commercial properties,” with “an enforcement mechanism for individuals or businesses who are adversely affected by municipality or counties’ failure to take action as required by law.”

The bill would allow for private causes of action by citizens.

It would also have exceptions during states of emergency declared by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill elicited public comment, including from Jackson Oberlink of Florida Rising, who opposed the measure, the burden it imposes on local government and its “failure to address the root cause of homelessness.” He noted that similar bills had been introduced in other conservative Legislatures.

Yet the measure got bipartisan, unanimous support, including from Rep. Mike Gottlieb, a Democrat who noted that he often sees “hypodermic needles” and “used condoms” littering the ground outside his law office, and hoped the bill would urge local counties to take action.

“I’m hoping there’s no nefarious intent in the bill,” the Fort Lauderdale lawyer said.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Dont Say FLA

    January 25, 2024 at 12:41 pm

    Rhonda’s War on Woke was a colossal failure, ergo, War on Sleep.

    That’ll work right?

    A war on woke didn’t work, so a war on sleep HAS to work. Right? Right? Watch out 2028 Here come Rhonda with his new war!

    • MH/Duuuval

      January 25, 2024 at 5:37 pm

      Subtle, man, subtle!

    • Conservative always

      January 26, 2024 at 12:11 pm

      I don’t want FL to look like California, NY, or Washington. Thank you Rep. Garrison!

      • Michael K

        January 26, 2024 at 3:54 pm

        You haven’t been to many Florida cities, have you?

Comments are closed.


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