Clearwater, Florida-- With unanimous decisions, the Clearwater City Council past three ordinances that would prohibit three things: Approaching vehicles in traffic, sitting or laying in public places and lodging in common areas, respectively.
The aim, is to curtail homeless activity in the highly visible areas of Gateway, downtown and Clearwater Beach.
Mayor George Cretekos said this effort is not an attempt to target the homeless, but rather give police the opportunity to help the homeless find social services that will them get back on their feet.
According to the ordinances, police have the discretion to cite and person who violates the ordinance, but if that person proves that they are attempting to better their position, the citation will be dropped.
Police also have the power, however, to arrest individuals who are repeat offenders, and could be combined with a fine.
The moves follow similar actions by the City of St. Petersburg and the City of Tampa to deal with the growing homeless problem.
Several people spoke before the council, some in favor of the law, some opposed.
Residents and business leaders say the lawlessness which sometimes comes along with homeless people congregating in public areas, and the safety issues related, were the impetus for the ordinances.