Venting about "vagrants" in downtown Sarasota

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Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 10:57 pm

SARASOTA, FLA  There aren't many issues that would cause dozens of people to give up part of their Friday night--but the growing issue of vagrants in downtown Sarasota is one of them.  Merchants and residents sounded off tonight at First United Methodist Church on South Pineapple Avenue in Sarasota.

"I have customers who won't come in my shop because of who is outside my shop. My girls who work there are afraid of working there at night," said one Main Street business owner.

Another woman just moved here from Dallas, but says she may not have come if she had realized how bad the problem would become--and her comment sent a chill through the room.

"I hear the new downtown is really going to be over by Lakewood Ranch and where the new mall is, and where all the growth is," she warmed.

Comments like that don't sit well with all the business owners in the audience--including Robert Kay who fell through a plate glass window less than a week ago, wrestling with a homeless person who's now in jail after the incident.

Homeless expert Robert Marbut said the city once called meanest in the nation for allegedly turning it's back on the homeless is now guilty of enabling the behavior.

"The good heartedness of Sarasota giving out money and food and I'm so against that," Marbut said.

And Marbut says if you think the problem is getting worse, you're right.  He says back to back cold winters increased the numbers all the way from Santa Barbara to Savannah.

"One thing I can guarantee you is if you keep doing what you're doing you're going to have a 20-25 percent bigger problem in 18 months," he warned.

Sarasota City and County Commissioners will address the growing issue during a joint session on June 23rd.

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  • crabbysam posted at 2:19 pm on Sun, Jun 8, 2014.

    crabbysam Posts: 15

    Got news for some of these complainers, the county doesn't exclusively belong to them, it belongs to all of us, and even those down an out have the same rights.

    I think the complainers should spend a week in downtown Detroit or skid row in multiple parts of NYC and see how good we have it. Instead of complaining, there are better avenues to take. But not every solution is ideal, compromise has to be made.

    For example, removing bench seating so that the homeless cannot occupy them is abysmally stupid and absurd. I guarantee you the complainers, who probably never faced a day of adversity in their lives, were the ones that helped enact this stupidity.

    There are many elderly, ill and affirmed people that need a place to park their tired feet, especially in the hot summer months. Removing seating to rectify vagrant issues is almost as absurd as locking up the homeless for almost no reason as was the standard procedure for too long here is Sarasota.

    The shop owners that claim to be losing business I can sympathize with to some degree, maybe instead of calling 911, they could try kindness and perhaps bring the down and out a bowl of soup, and politely ask them if they could find another place to hang out during business hours.

    Sarasota is a nice place. We need to be better & try to make Sarasota the best it can be for all, no matter if their rich or poor. There are no easy answers, but kindness always trumps stupidity.

  • crazygirl1 posted at 11:35 am on Sat, Jun 7, 2014.

    crazygirl1 Posts: 5

    Those whole situation is really ridiculous!


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