• Bill Text may be accessed HERE
  • Staff Analysis may be accessed HERE 
  • The bill creates s. 125.0231, F.S.
  • Effective Date:
    • Most of the law’s provisions takes effect on October 1, 2024
    •  The authorization of a specified civil cause of action by residents/business owners takes effect on January 1, 2025
  • Defined Terms:
    • “Department” – Department of Children and Families
    • “Public Camping or Sleeping” –
      • 1. Lodging or residing overnight in a temporary outdoor habitation used as a dwelling or living space and evidenced by the erection of a tent or other temporary shelter, the presence or bedding, or pillows, or the storage of personal belongings, OR
      • 2. Lodging or residing overnight in an outdoor space without a tent or other temporary structure.The term does NOT include :
      • 1. Lodging or residing overnight in a motor vehicle that is registered, insured, and located in a place where it may lawfully be.
      • 2. Camping for recreational purposes on property so designated for such purposes.
      • 3. Lodging or residing overnight on private property

What the Bill Prohibits:

A County or Municipality from “authorizing or otherwise allowing” any person to regularly engage in public camping or sleeping on any public property, including (but not limited to): 

  •  Any public building or its grounds
  • Any public right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the county or municipality

 

What the Bill Allows:

A county to designate property owned by the County or a municipality within the county’s boundaries for the purposes of public camping or sleeping. A property designated as such must be certified by the Department of Children and Families and meet certain minimum standards. (See below for additional details)

Requirements of the Designation:

  • Requires a majority vote by the county’s governing body
  • Designation may not exceed a continuous period of more than one year
  • County may designate property within municipal boundaries, contingent on concurrence by the municipality, via majority vote of the municipality’s governing body
  • Requires certification by the Department of Children and Families (DCF)

Conditions for DCF Certification:

The County must submit a request for certification to the Secretary of DCF. Any request must include documentation of the following:

  • The homeless population within the county exceeds county shelter bed capacity
  • The designated site is not contiguous to property designated for residential use by any local government comprehensive plan or future land use map
  • The designated property would not adversely and materially affect property values or the safety and security of the surrounding area or children
  • The county has developed a plan to satisfy the statutory requirements for a designated campsite (See below)

Minimum Standards and Procedures of a Designated Campsite:

If a county elects to designate county or municipal property for the purpose of public camping/sleeping, it must establish minimum standards and procedures, as outlined in statute. Such standards and procedures must include:

  • Ensuring the safety and security of the property, and any persons residing therein
  • Maintaining sanitation including, at a minimum, access to clean and operable restrooms and running water
  • Coordinating with the regional managing entity to provide access to behavioral health services, including substance use and mental health treatment resources
  • Prohibiting illegal substance and alcohol use on the property, as well as enforcing such prohibition

Such policies and procedures must be posted to the county’s publicly accessible website within 30 days of DCF Certification.

Fiscally Constrained County Exemption:

A fiscally constrained county is exempt from the requirement to establish certain minimum standards and procedures, IF the county’s governing body finds that compliance with these requirements would result in financial hardship.

Note: Such exemption does NOT apply to the requirement to establish minimum standards prohibiting the use of illegal substances and alcohol on a property designated for public camping/sleeping. In other words, a fiscally constrained county must still establish minimum standards for this purpose. 

The requirement that such policies and procedures must be posted to the county’s publicly accessible website within 30 days of DCF certification still applies to fiscally constrained counties. 

Authorization for Civil Action against Counties:

Effective January 1, 2025, a county resident, business owner, or the Attorney General may bring a civil action against a county or applicable municipality to enjoin a violation of the prohibition to authorize, or otherwise allow, public camping or sleeping activity. Such action may be filed in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

To file such action, the petitioner must include attestation of the following:

  • Written notice of the violation has been provided to the governing body of the county or applicable municipality
  • The county or applicable municipality has been provided 5 business days to cure the violation
  • The county or applicable municipality failed to take all reasonable action within the limits of their governmental authority to cure the alleged violation within the 5-day cure period 

Non-Applicability during Certain Periods:

The prohibition on public camping and sleeping, in s. 125.0231, F.S., does not apply under the following circumstances:

  • The Governor has declared a State of Emergency in the county, pursuant to s. 252.36, F.S.
  • The Governor has declared a State of Emergency in a county immediately adjacent to the county, pursuant to s. 252.36, F.S.
  • A State of Emergency has been declared under chapter 870

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is a county required to designate a property for the purpose of public camping or sleeping?

No. Subsection (3) of the newly created s. 125.0231, F.S. provides that a county may designate county property for public camping and sleeping, at its discretion.

2. If a county is not required to designate county property for public camping or sleeping, what are the effects of the legislation for the county?

The Legislation does 4 things:

  • Defines certain terms
  • Prohibits a county or municipality from authorizing or otherwise allowing public camping or sleeping
  • Allows a county to designate county or municipal property for the purpose of public camping/sleeping for up to 1 year, and provides conditions should a county do so
  • Provides for injunctive relief for a county resident/business owner/Attorney General in the event that a county authorizes or otherwise allows public camping or sleeping

3. Does falling asleep momentarily in a public park or building constitute “public camping or sleeping?”

No. S. 125.0231, F.S. provides that the term refers to “lodging or residing overnight” whether with or without a tent or other temporary temporary shelter.

4. What is specifically prohibited in the new statute?

A county is prohibited from authorizing or otherwise allowing any person to regularly engage in public camping or sleeping. FAC staff understands “any person” to mean that it must be the same person regularly engaging in public camping activity, and “regularly engage” to mean the public camping activity is done on a recurring basis. 

5. Does the prohibition on authorizing or otherwise allowing public camping or sleeping apply to indoor spaces? For example, would an overnight sit-in at a county-owned building constitute public camping or sleeping?

No. S. 125.0231 defines “public camping or sleeping” as “lodging or residing overnight in a temporary outdoor habitation…or outdoor space,” whether with or without a tent or other temporary shelter accommodations. FAC staff does not understand the prohibited term to include indoor space. 

6. Are fiscally constrained counties exempt from all the requirements of s. 125.0231, F.S.?

No. Fiscally constrained counties are only exempt from certain requirements, and only with a finding from the county’s governing body that meeting these requirements would result in financial hardship. A fiscally constrained county that makes a finding of financial hardship would be exempt from the following statutory requirements:

  • Ensuring the safety and security of the property, and any persons residing therein
  • Maintaining sanitation including, at a minimum, access to clean and operable restrooms and running water
  • Coordinating with the regional managing entity to provide access to behavioral health services, including substance use and mental health treatment resources

Note: a fiscally constrained county must still meet the requirement to establish standards and procedures prohibiting illegal substance and alcohol use, and enforce this prohibition. 

8. In order for a County to designate an area for Public Camping and Sleeping, what actions must the County take?

 

To designate an area for Public Camping or Sleeping, the County must:

§ Obtain the concurrence of the governing body of the municipality If the designated property is within the boundaries of a municipality,

§ Receive a majority vote of the governing body of the county.

§ Receive certification by the Department of Children and Families

 

9. What must be provided to Department of Children and Families to obtain certification of a designated are for Public Camping or Sleeping. The county must submit a request to the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families which shall include certification of, and documentation proving, the following:

§ There are not enough open beds in homeless shelters in the county for the homeless population

§ The designated property is not contiguous to property designated for residential use by the county or municipality in the local government comprehensive plan and future land use map

§ The designated property would not adversely and materially affect the property value or safety and security of other existing residential or commercial property in the county or municipality and would not negatively affect the safety of children.

§ The county has developed a plan to satisfy statutory requirements.

 

10. What conditions must a designated area for Public Camping or Sleeping meet?

The area must not:

o Be contiguous to property designated for residential use by the county or municipality in the local government comprehensive plan and future land use map

o adversely and materially affect the property value or safety and security of other existing residential or commercial property in the county or municipality and would not negatively affect the safety of children

11. Can a Municipality designate an area for Public Camping or Sleeping?

No. While both Counties and Municipalities are prohibited from authorizing or otherwise allowing Public Camping or Sleeping, only Counties are authorized to designate an area for Public Camping or Sleeping.

12. Who may bring a civil action against the County or a Municipality for violating the prohibition of authorizing or otherwise allowing Public Camping or Sleeping?

The entities that may bring a civil action against the County or a Municipality for violating the prohibition of authorizing or otherwise allowing Public Camping or Sleeping are:

· A resident of the County

· The owner of a business located in the county

· The Attorney General

 

13. What must be done in order to file civil action for an injuction against a county or Municipality for violation of the prohibition on authorizing or otherwise allowing Public Camping or Sleeping?

In order to seek civil action, the application for injunction must be accompanied with an affidavit attesting that:

· Written Notice of the alleged violation has been provided to the governing body of the county or applicable municipality.

§ The County or applicable municipality has been provided 5 business days cure the alleged violation.

§ The County or applicable municipality has failed to take all reasonable actions within the limits of its governmental authority to cure the alleged violation within 5 business days after receiving written notice of the alleged violation.

14. How might limits of governmental authority come into play with respect to the actions counties take to not authorize or otherwise allow any person to regularly engage in Public Camping or Sleeping?

The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county. The role of the Board of County commissioners is to put in place the necessary ordinances to reflect the requirements of state law as well as policies and procedures to notify the Sheriff or Municipal Police Departments when notification of a perceived violation has occurred.