By: Sharon Aron Baron
Tamarac residents may notice something different while sitting at traffic lights at major intersections. They’re not getting solicited for money by the street vendors from the Homeless Voice.
And they won’t be anytime soon.
That’s because owner and advocate Sean Cononie, has closed the shelter in Hollywood down for good. The City of Hollywood paid Cononie nearly $5 million for his property and made him promise that he won’t return to purchase another property in the city.
Where did they go?
Haines City just 39 miles from Orlando or 24 miles from Disney World.
According to the Sun Sentinel, he took 112 people with him who plan to stay year-round in a 125-room hotel that Cononie has a contract to purchase on Friday for $2 million. His tenants will pay a penny to $24 a day to stay year-round in a former Howard Johnson motel.
The Homeless Voice vendors as well as panhandlers and street vendors were banned on a multitude of intersections by several cities for safety reasons.
Tamarac Talk has been writing about the issue with street vendors and panhandlers for several years and had even brought it to the attention of the commission, however, there was nothing the City of Tamarac could do until pending litigation from the City of Pembroke Pines had been resolved.
In September 2012, Pembroke Pines passed a series of ordinances regulating charitable solicitation. The ordinances barred individuals and organizations from asking for donations from and offering services to drivers engaged in traffic on six major city roads. In November 2013, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum ruled that a charitable organization cannot sue a South Florida city over solicitation-permitting rules that never applied to it. The ruling allowed the City of Coral Springs and Lauderhill to move forward with their ordinances.
In December of 2013, the Tamarac Commission made a unanimous motion to authorize a study for City staff to evaluate street canvassing and soliciting at our most dangerous intersections. City Attorney Sam Gorin told the commission that they would be bringing something back in the first quarter of 2014 year. But it’s been over a year and still nothing has been done.
During this same period last December, the cities of Coral Springs and Lauderhill had their studies completed, and by the first part of 2014, they had their bans on dangerous intersections already in place.
I spoke to Coral Springs Chief Pustizzi who said the City was anticipating the legal ruling, and had their study ready. It only took them six months to complete.
Six months to do a study in a city that’s much larger than ours.
Why has it taken over 15 months for ours?
Now that the Homeless Voice gone, residents will now get some relief at our busiest intersections from some of these vendors who routinely walk in and out of traffic, approach their windows, and ask for money. However, we still have issues with many panhandlers that are still bothering drivers while sitting at traffic lights.
This ordinance is not to remove panhandlers from our City but to keep them safe and drivers safe. The best way you can help the homeless is by not giving them money but by offering them information on where they can find services and shelter.
Tamarac Talk will keep you posted on when the ordinance will be passed.
A list of shelters from the office of Broward County Commissioner Martin Kiar. Click to make larger and print to give out.