Mayor Trantalis January Newsletter

January 2018
Following on the success in December of closing the encampment next to the main library, the community initiative to end homelessness has launched its next phase.
Recently, Chief Judge Jack Tuter began a community court program at City Hall that deals with homeless people who are charged with minor offenses. The specialized court addresses the root causes of homelessness by offering alternative sentencing for certain misdemeanor offenses.
Instead of going to jail, the homeless are connected with essential health, rehabilitation, and social services, as well as housing. They also are required to complete community service. This compassionate approach will reduce jail costs, provide life-building assistance and reduce homelessness in our community.
The city worked with Judge Tuter and others for almost a year to create the community court. It is the first of its kind in Florida. Judge Tuter traveled out of state to observe the operation of similar programs before starting ours.
The city and the judiciary were concerned by the revolving door of homeless going through the court system.
Arrested on charges such as panhandling and camping in public, homeless individuals filled precious court time and expensive jail space. The underlying issues of why they were homeless went unaddressed. Released from jail, they were back on the street in Fort Lauderdale. They frequently found themselves returning to court and jail.
We have witnessed incredible results in a very short time from the homeless coalition that the city formed with Broward County, the business community and social service providers.
Almost 70 individuals from the downtown encampment have either been provided services along with either permanent supportive housing or temporary housing. We continue to recruit landlords to offer apartments for the program’s use. If you know any landlord willing to participate in the housing program in which market rate rents are paid to house these individuals, please contact my office.
More action is yet to come.
The United Way is negotiating with the Salvation Army and Hope South Florida to provide day respite programs for the homeless. A meal-sharing program is also being developed. 
Last November, several companies began offering motorized scooters for rent across Fort Lauderdale. Residents and tourists have since used them thousands of times as an alternative to driving. But numerous accidents have occurred, and the city has been deluged with complaints about how they are used and where they are parked.
The city is committed to ending the dangerous conditions.
Our staff is reviewing regulations from other communities and expects to discuss the options with the City Commission in early February.
The city agreed last summer to allow four companies to offer dockless scooters and bicycles for rent. Scooters have become prevalent in many American cities in recent years, and our goal was to be proactive in establishing regulations based on national standards and best practices.
The hope was that the scooters would provide some relief to the heavy traffic that drivers often face on our streets. Many of the users over the last couple months have used them for short trips downtown or along the beach. Those are trips that typically would have occurred by car.
Unfortunately, our streets and sidewalks have become the Wild West. Public safety has suffered.
Emergency room doctors and dentists report numerous cases of people injured using scooters. Despite general traffic regulations and the city’s rules regarding scooters, it is not uncommon to see scooters swerve in and out of traffic or multiple people using one scooter. People are texting while riding scooters, and children and teens are using scooters despite age restrictions.
Where scooters are left by their riders has also become a significant concern.
Our rules say they must be left upright with four feet of clearance on the sidewalk. Also, they cannot be left on private property or block business entrances, fire hydrants or handicapped ramps. The reality too frequently is the opposite.
City staff believes there are ways to better regulate the scooters. I’d like to see them remain an alternate mode of transportation, but the current situation is untenable. If solutions cannot be found, the City Commission will need to reconsider the program entirely.



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