St. Petersburg restaurants battling transient problem amid reopenings

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – As restaurants and businesses in downtown St. Petersburg attempt to reopen they’re combatting a problem they’ve dealt with before… transients.

Homeless men and women camping out on sidewalks and leaving their trash and other unpleasantries behind.

St. Petersburg police officers arrested three homeless men on Monday after they were camped out in front of a downtown restaurant.

Yolanda Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the department explains they were given a chance to leave.

Many of these restaurants and businesses have been closed for weeks, so no one has been telling the transients they have to go.

“In this case, the officer went by and saw some people sitting where they weren’t supposed to be loitering, asked them to leave,” said Fernandez. “They didn’t leave, he came back a couple of hours later and they were still there and that’s when they were arrested.”

Yolanda Fernandez/St. Petersburg Police Dept.

In the officer’s report, she wrote, “This area of the city has been overrun by transients and subjects loitering and littering. The businesses here have requested extra patrol to stop trespassing.”

The arrests happened in front of the Brick and Mortar restaurant on Central Avenue. Kyle Morris is a server at the restaurant and says the sidewalk in front of the eatery is usually trashed before opening.

“They definitely dirty up the gardens and everything that we have,” said Morris. “I mean we have to clean it every day.”

Kyle Morris/Server at Brick and Mortar

Fernandez says she doesn’t believe the city is being overrun by the homeless. She thinks some of the homeless men and women made themselves at home downtown, while businesses were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that those establishments are reopening, people are calling to report issues with trespassing.

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