SARASOTA, Fla. - After a unanimous vote by the Sarasota City Commission, all of the benches were removed from a downtown city park in response to complaints about homeless people and 'vagrants.'
"With them taking the park benches out because of the homeless, they're taking the park benches away from the whole community," said Chris Hester, a homeless man who often sits in the park.
Downtown residents said homeless people would congregate around the benches at Selby Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota, hurting property values and creating unsafe conditions. Neighbors say the benches would typically be occupied twenty-four hours a day.
"They'd sit with their backpacks and dirty alcohol bottles and hyperdermic needles," said park neighbor Marta Grande.
The city commission voted to remove the seats on a trial basis. They plan to revisit the issue in three months, and say they could vote to have the benches reinstalled.