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December 04, 2014

Judge Blocks Fla. City's Limit on Feeding Homeless Outdoors

A Florida judge on Tuesday temporarily suspended a controversial Fort Lauderdale law that restricts giving food to homeless people outdoors, the Sun Sentinel writes. The policy, which took effect October 31, drew international attention when Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old activist who has been feeding people on a city beach for decades, received a series of police citations for violating the ordinance.

Ruling in a case brought by Mr. Abbott, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lynch ordered the municipal officials and advocates for the homeless to enter mediation for 30 days. During that period, the city is barred from enforcing the law, which requires groups distributing food in public places to secure the property owner's permission and provide portable toilets.

The flap focused attention on efforts by several Florida cities to restrict outdoor food giveaways, which some merchants and residents contend lead to littering and public urination. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said mediation could produce a a constructive solution, adding, "We hope that Mr. Abbott meets us half way. We’ve asked him to meet us half way in the past."