Assembly in Public Parks sign now

The petition recently circulated ("Petition to Act Now to Address Organized Transient Activities in Our Neighborhood") in Sarasota to restrict access to public parks is flawed in several respects. Firstly, it presents unfounded and unsubstantiated claims regarding so-called "organized transient group activities". It claims that this has caused, among other things: significant increases in cost to law enforcement and public maintenance; increased expenses to property owners and the public; local businesses having lower sales (and even failures); and lower property values. These claims are not backed up by significant and verifiable evidence and they do not reflect the reality of the present situation. Secondly, it claims to speak for the opinion and welfare of a wide number of residents and businesses near the park, despite the petition itself only representing a small section of the local populace (~50 people according to the petition). Thirdly, one of the ordinances cited in the petition (City Code 23-3.6, concerning commercial vending in public areas) is irrelevant to the present situation, which has been sparked by the sharing of (free) food in public parks. Finally, the move to limit participants in public parks is damaging to the general citizenry of Sarasota, as well as to its most vulnerable community, the local homeless population.

We, the undersigned, urge the Sarasota City Commission to reject the proposed petition as unfounded, unjust, and detrimental to the well-being of Sarasota's citizenry; to retain the current threshold number of participants in a public park event at 75; and to set precedence in our state and region for greater protection of the First Amendment right to assemble freely.

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Olive JuarezBy:
HealthIn:
Petition target:
Sarasota City Commission

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