Commissioner Javier D. Souto proposes ordinance banning camping at bus shelters and benches
Commissioner Javier D. Souto will propose a new ordinance at the April 18 Miami-Dade Commission meeting prohibiting camping and laying across bus passenger benches or within bus shelters serving Miami-Dade Transit.
According to Commissioner Souto, the law would prevent inappropriate use of mass transit passenger facilities. The commissioner particularly noted persons that have taken up permanent residence in some bus shelters, refusing housing assistance from the Homeless Trust.
“We live in a free country whereby everyone is entitled to choose his or her own lifestyle. However, we have one of the best programs in the nation for homelessness, and yet we have persons who continuously refuse offers of shelter or rental apartment units,” said Commissioner Souto. “This loitering cannot infringe on the rights of transit users for whom we strive to provide clean and decent structures to shelter them from the elements. Our bus benches are meant to serve as a convenience to travelers, not as a bed or a personal office.”
Under this ordinance, camping would be defined as the use of the bus passenger bench or bus passenger shelter for living accommodation purposes, including but not limited to, setting up any tents, shacks, or shelters for sleeping activities or making preparations to sleep. Bus passenger benches are to be used exclusively as seating areas for Miami-Dade Transit patrons. Standing on or lying across bus passenger benches is prohibited.
If someone continues the prohibited activity after given a verbal warning, a Miami-Dade Transit official, authorized security officer, or a law enforcement officer may direct the individual to leave the train, bus, bus passenger shelter, bus passenger bench or premises of the station. Any individual who does not leave as directed, shall be subject to arrest for trespassing pursuant to Chapter 810.09 Florida Statutes and subject to a fine not to exceed $500. Violators can also be imprisoned for up to 60 days. In lieu of any fine or penalty, the court may order any person convicted of violating any provision of this chapter to participate in transit public service for a minimum of 10 hours. Such service may include graffiti removal, cleaning of transit vehicles, and maintenance of transit right-of-way.
For more information, please contact Commissioner Souto’s office at 305-222-2116.