SARASOTA - Sarasota's Rosemary Cemetery is one of the city's creepiest spots when the sun goes down. So creepy in fact, that it was a big part of Tom Jacobson's ghost tour of Sarasota. That is until this week.
"As of yesterday we've had to now temporarily suspend our operations which could be quite costly with season just upcoming the next couple of weeks," said Tom Jacobson, whose company offered the tours.
Those tours have stopped however, because the cemetery's perimeter has become a new campground for the area's homeless.
"It's impacting our ghost tour because its become a definite safety issue," said Jacobson, who thinks it could cost him around ten thousand dollars this tourist season.
Business owner Teliee Popov is also feeling the impact. "A lot of times when I come here, and I park my truck in the back, literally it smells, because they were using the back of the store as a bathroom," said Popov.
He says homeless people loiter around his furniture store, and its got customers talking.
"They tell me how the characters are sketchy around here and kind of laugh it off, but how many people are not coming in?" said Popov.
Despite the de facto campground sitting on public sidewalks, officials say unless they're blocking traffic, there's not a whole lot they can do.
"But [the] fact that a homeless individual or two or three or twenty are gathering is not a violation of any laws that we have on the books," said city manager Tom Barwin.
Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPinio has instructed officers to do what they can to direct street-dwellers to organizations suited to provide help.
"We want to help individuals get out of being homeless, and get into having a place where they live and have productive lives," said DiPino
Barwin says the city is working on creating a transitions fund, that would help the homeless find helpful resources.
"We're in the process of funding case workers, we're working on a partnership with the county, and many of the social service providers to mov