Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Letter: Homeless drive visitors out

Letter: Homeless drive visitors out

Jean Timmerman
Publication Date: 02/17/09

Editor: Last Thursday, along with two friends, we decided to drive downtown to have lunch and stroll around the city.

Driving around and around trying to find parking became such a chore we almost decided to cancel our plans. Eventually we poured quarters into a meter and headed for our lunch.

Downtown was filled with tourists (good news) but we were appalled that the homeless were everywhere, including three men who were laying their very dirty bedding on the floor of the old Slave Market in the Plaza de la Constitucion. Another sat in the doorway of the oldest Church on King Street playing his guitar with a basket of money at his feet. The benches in the park were not for tired tourists to rest but for homeless to sprawl on. We did not see a single St. Augustine police vehicle in the whole downtown area.

I decided to call the police department to question all this, when we returned home to Coquina Crossing. I inquired why there was no police evidence. They said they usually send one unit downtown but weren't sure of that day.

Regarding the homeless, if they are not panhandling, drunk and disorderly or sleeping, they are not rousted as per municipal ordinances.

Have you noticed most all homeless can afford cigarettes? It's a very dangerous and expensive habit which we foster when we give them money.

We moved to St. Augustine because we loved its beauty, its history, its serenity. We will not go downtown again unless it is absolutely necessary.

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