Unhoused in Florida? You may need a permit to sleep in public soon
Johnathan Martin couldn't resist the urge to add 'grooming' to the social media ban language.

jonathan martin
A new bill would ban public 'camping' with some limited exceptions, and would impose financial obligations on local governments.

The Senate Community Affairs committee advanced what the sponsor calls “cutting-edge” legislation that would put new restrictions on sleeping or camping in public spaces starting Oct. 1.

Sen. Jonathan Martin’s legislation (SB 1530) would ban counties and municipalities from permitting public sleeping or public camping on public property without explicit permission via temporary permits, a move deemed by the bill language to fulfill an “important state interest.”

“One of the greatest challenges facing our nation is chronic homelessness. And this bill takes steps towards addressing this challenge by prohibiting counties and municipalities from allowing public sleeping or camping on public property and public buildings or on public rights of way without a permit,” the Lee County Republican said during Monday’s hearing.

Localities may designate certain public property for sleeping or camping with the sanction of the Department of Children and Families, permission based on providing clean restrooms, running water, security on the premises and bans on drugs and alcohol.

Martin envisioned the “most luxurious” facility possible in these camps, with accommodations for wrap-around homeless services. He wouldn’t hazard a guess on what the unfunded mandate might cost, but made it clear that was a problem for subsidiary governments to solve while answering questions from Democrats.

When asked about how the unhoused might obtain the permit, a process not delineated in the bill, Martin reiterated his claim that public property was being misused and “turned into homes … where homes are not supposed to be constructed,” putting the burden on municipalities.

“Those people who are choosing to live in a park are doing so because they made choices that everybody living in a home has not made,” Martin said.

He added that the best way to “help those individuals” without homes is to make sure they aren’t “scattered throughout the county, hiding under bridges, hiding under bushes, difficult for social workers to get to.”

The bill would allow for private causes of action by citizens if they believe there are violations of this law by counties or municipalities. It would also have exceptions during states of emergency declared by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Democrats had their questions about the bill, and so did Republicans, like Sen. Jennifer Bradley from Clay County.

She represents a lot of rural counties, and her concern with the current bill language was that counties could not “permit sleeping” under the risk of a lawsuit and would have to arrest the unhoused.

Martin “can imagine the difficulty,” but said the goal was to “provide that carrot without a stick” with a facility the county has set up. He didn’t address how fiscally constrained counties would fulfill this unfunded mandate.

Bradley was a “yes” vote on the bill.

Other speakers noted the logistic difficulty of placing people in these camps in urban areas, where space considerations would drive placement. And other concerns emerged from outnumbered Democrats.

Sen. Rosalind Osgood noted that assaults could happen in camps, and if a mother was arrested for violating the rough sleeping ban, she could be separated from her children.

Sen. Jason Pizzo said he could support the bill if it was a pilot program for Lee County, a suggestion the sponsor didn’t embrace.

The House version of this bill is progressing as well.

Rep. Sam Garrison’s bill (HB 1365) moved forward last week by the House Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee.

The Clay County Republican, who is in line to be House Speaker later this decade, said the legislation represented a “carrot-and-stick” approach to dealing with unhoused populations, and could be part of a “Florida model” to deal with homelessness writ large.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • PeterH

    January 29, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    ……and this bill will somehow fix the ever increasing number of Florida’s homeless population who can no longer afford the rent or home ownership! Punishing the victim makes sense to today’s Republican Party leadership. Welcome to DeSantis’s FREEDUMB STATE OF FLORIDA!

    • Stephen

      January 29, 2024 at 5:19 pm

      It’s cruel and I guarantee you he will tell you he is a pro-life christian. The absolute worst

      • Pam Wessling

        January 30, 2024 at 11:16 am

        You are making asumptions that are groundless. Many people, of all backgrounds are very concerned about the homeless!
        The homeless are a heterogenous group that come from young and old, single and families, drug addicted or just down on their luck, abused and abusers.
        As a Christian, Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). There is no one simple solution, but we must unit to find the solutions – instead of trying to divide each other.

  • MH/Duuuval

    January 29, 2024 at 5:07 pm

    “Sen. Jason Pizzo said he could support the bill if it was a pilot program for Lee County, a suggestion the sponsor didn’t embrace.”

    MAGA doesn’t have any trouble recruiting the amoral and clueless, such as Martin. Garrison is worse, if that is possible.

    • Pam Wessling

      January 30, 2024 at 11:06 am

      Who are you? Not brave enough to have a name?
      There are enough amoral and clueless of all groups to go around – not just MAGA.
      You should recognize that.

      • MH/Duuuval

        January 30, 2024 at 10:18 pm

        MAGAmites are a cult, period.

        That there are and will continue to be dupes: TRUE.

      • MH/Duuuval

        January 31, 2024 at 9:09 am

        Pam Wessling is not exactly a household name — except in your household, perhaps, and assuming you actually exist.

  • Pam Wessling

    January 30, 2024 at 11:03 am

    I do not see this as a well thought out bill. Sounds like costs are going to be imposed on the counties/cities/towns – and thus on property owners.
    There are many people who are very knowledgable on the subject of homelessness, causes are varied. Many good solutions have already been inacted.
    Also, sounds like this representative has had complaints from constiuents – so he wants to show he’s ‘doing something’.
    I have more thoughts than room to write – but this bill is not helpful!

Comments are closed.


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