Homeless congregate at Sarasota City Hall; drug bust

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Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014 9:40 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Architecture experts have called it one of Florida's the most interesting buildings--and now some say Sarasota City Hall just got even more interesting.

"The six individuals arrested were found in a parking lot in Sarasota City Hall," said Genevieve Judge, Spokesperson for the Sarasota Police Department.

Sarasota Police arrested these six men in an undercover drug operation involving 'designer drugs' or 'spice' in the parking lot of Sarasota City Hall.

City Commissioner Susan Chapman says she's seen people openly deal drugs in the lot.

"In one of these buys, I saw a bus driver walking by and said, 'look, he's openly dealing drugs in the city hall parking lot!' and he said, 'yes, he does it all the time," she said.

But it's not just drugs. Many others seem to have chosen the city hall campus as their new place to congregate, to relax, even get a nap in the parking lot.

Chapman says after hours, the homeless also fill up picnic tables outside the city manager's office and some even use the fountain to bathe.

We walked out and asked a few folks why they choose city hall. One man said, since the city took benches away, there are fewer places to sit. Others said they knew they'd see their friends here.

Sarasota City Senior Communications Manager Jan Thornburg responded to an email saying she doesn't know of any plans to move the homeless off city hall property.

"It's not illegal to be homeless.   If someone is violating a City ordinance they could be directed to the appropriate social services...arrested... or trespassed depending on the violation," she wrote in an email.

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