110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Jen Horton
posted Feb 28, 2014 - 10:56:50am
It's illegal to sleep on a park bench in DeLand, if the bench is in a park.
You can sleep on a park bench if the bench is pretty much anywhere else, including in front of a business in Downtown DeLand.
At its Monday, March 3, meeting, the City Commission will consider making it illegal to sleep on any city property.
Assistant City Manager Dale Arrington said the current ordinance makes it very hard for police officers to ask people sleeping on sidewalk benches to move along. The law is very specific, and stipulates parks.
After a request from the MainStreet DeLand Association’s merchant committee, the city staff looked at closing that loophole.
If the City Commission adopts it, the new law, will make it unlawful to sleep on any street, sidewalk, alley or right of way, or on any public structure.
"We didn't want people to be able to roll off the bench, roll underneath it and say, 'There, I'm not on the bench,'" Arrington said.
It will still be OK to sleep in a car parked in the public right of way.
The ordinance directs police officers to give a verbal warning first, ordering the sleeper to wake up and move along. Should the sleeper not comply, a police officer may arrest the person.
Wayne Carter, executive director of MainStreet DeLand Association, said the merchants brought the problem to the city's attention in January.
Bench-sleeping in Downtown DeLand isn't a huge problem currently, Carter said, "but it has been."
At times, he said, benches outside of bars became sleeping venues.
To enact a new law, an ordinance must be approved by a majority of city commissioners at two meetings.
The first reading of the public sleeping ordinance will be presented at the 7 p.m. City Commission meeting, Monday, March 3, at City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.
The DeLand City Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month.
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