Palm Bay: No Trespassing For Homeless?

The other day, we were looking at the Palm Bay City Council agenda for August 1. On the agenda was the approval of the minutes for the July 26, 2019 meeting. What caught our eye was the minutes from the Citizen Comments part of the meeting, specifically the comments by Tom Redman, a self purported advocate for the homeless.

Here’s how the minutes summarized his comment:

3. Tom Rebman, resident, said that individuals from homeless camps were being trespassed and removed from properties. He wanted Council to assure that no homeless camps would ever be trespassed from properties without services being offered first.

We were surprised as it seems that Redman was saying that property owners had no right to trespass people from their own property. Surely someone as “learned” as Redman would never advocate such a thing.

We went back and transcribed his comments:

I’m having a difficult time forming my words today.

I care very much about my city. It pains me very much every time I see a negative news article. It pains me every time I see negative comments on Facebook. I want to see our community known for the people we are and the great work that we do.

Something has recently happened and I’m not asking for answers on why it happened. I’m not worried about going backwards, on who shot John, but I do know for a fact that the things I am about to state are facts because I am getting my information from the City’s Public Information request they provided me.

I took state Representative Randy Fine and Deputy Mayor Anderson out to the homeless camps to show them how those people live. While we were out there, the homeless people told State Representative Fine and Deputy Mayor Anderson that they didn’t want to live with the hot tubs , and the broken TV’s and the basketball goals that have been dumped by residents – this isn’t homeless people. Or from the trash from the previous residents. They asked for help because even if they bagged up all the trash there was no where for it to go.

Deputy Mayor Anderson said “look, if you guys want to bring all that trash out here to the front, we’ll get it out of there.”

They voluntarily did three loads of trash this tall. We filled three claw trucks.

The day after the third claw truck came, somehow this email got sent to code enforcement and its from Mr. Tracy Hodge of the City and it says, and I quote:

“There’s an excessive amount of trash being left in the right of way the City is trying to maintain. Can you forward this to the proper enforcement officer?”

The following day, the 20 people – well, actually 18 – that are in that camp were told they must leave the camp because of that trash. That was the only code compliance complaint in the last 12 months. Now, we have had officer complaints in that camp. I’m aware of everyone of them because I work very closely with Officer Porter and Officer Rogers and we’re on top of it.

None of the three of us knew these people were being trespassed. It broke the trust the homeless people have with me and the people I brought out there.

I don’t know why it happened. But we had a deal that we would never ever trespass a homeless camp without offering them services first.

That’s not what we are doing any more.

So I ask this: before I leave this podium can Council assure me that we will not ever trespass a homeless camp in this way again.

Rebman’s comments show that he believes the rights of the homeless outweigh the rights of other individuals including property owners.

We want to fisk his comments a little.

“Or from the trash from the previous residents. They asked for help because even if they bagged up all the trash there was no where for it to go.”

In this Rebman admits homeless people contributed to the garbage and trash on the property but somehow the current 18 residents were not generating any trash or refuse even though Redman states “there is nowhere for [the trash] to go.”

We need to stop the City’s RFP for waste removal because somehow the homeless in Palm Bay have discovered a method of living which generates no waste. How many millions of dollars do the citizens of Palm Bay pay to have waste removal services? As the homeless and Redman have hearkened upon a non-waste generating way of living. The money that this would save residents could pay for all the services any homeless person could want or need!

The fact of the matter is that it is clear that the homeless do contribute to the waste on a property.

So why did Rebman feel the need to misrepresent that fact?

But we had a deal that we would never ever trespass a homeless camp without offering them services first.

We have no idea with whom this so called “deal” was made. If the deal was between Redman and the City, it is not worth anything and un-enforceable because neither the City nor Redman can bargain away the rights of the lawful property owner.

As far as “trespass” is concerned, legally,…

Trespass is defined by the act of knowingly entering another person’s property without permission.

For the definition of trespass, the “knowingly entering” requirement refers to the actor’s knowledge of the literal act of entering property. It does not matter whether the actor actually knows the property belongs to someone else.

Like it or not, the homeless people were there illegally as they failed to have the permission of the property owner to be on the property itself.

In response to Rebman’s comments, City Manager said the property owner, who is not in the area, had “no idea” the property was being used as a homeless camp. The people are on the property without the owner’s permission or consent.

That’s not what we are doing any more.

We aren’t? They City won’t enforce the laws of the land and protect the rights of property owners?

Under what legal provision can Rebman demand that the City not follow the law?

What makes this even more egregious is that the people who donate and pay taxes to help the homeless in Rebman’s world have fewer rights than other people.

Rebman has made the homeless his cause celebre. He has traveled over much of the state telling people what they should do and chastising those who do not listen to him and him alone.

In 2015, Rebman got into a tiff with homeless advocates and providers of care in Jacksonville:

Rebman called the treatment of the homeless at the City Rescue Mission “atrocious.” He said requiring the homeless, for example, to turn in their belongings at night, including their cell phones, is “inhumane.” He also says it’s “unconstitutional” to take away people’s items, even if they’re returned in the morning.

City Rescue Mission Executive Director Penny Kievet says she disagrees with Rebman. She says the mission treats every homeless “guest” with empathy and compassion, and it’s for their own protection that belongings are checked for emergency overnight stays. She also explains that the guests’ clothes are washed for free and returned to them the next morning. She says it was the guests themselves who asked for a “no cell phone policy” because they wanted some peace and quiet at night.

Rebman, however, says forcing people to follow such strict rules including wearing hospital scrubs–even though they’re clean–makes humans feel like “prisoners.”

So Rebman thinks it is wrong for shelters to protect the belongings of people. It is wrong to provide a quiet place to sleep. It is wrong to clean clothes and provide structure for those whose lives are lacking structure.

What we have yet to see, and it is very possible that we have missed it, is Rebman doing more than just talking and telling others what to where he can say “mission accomplished.” In the past few years, he was up in Daytona – advocating and telling people what they need to do.

What we have yet to see is Rebman’s solutions work.

We have yet to see any indication that he stays in one place long enough to finish the job of fighting homelessness in any meaningful way.

After the debacle in Jacksonville,…

One social media post called Rebman “a well-meaning idiot.”

That type of attitude was on full display on the July 26 Palm Bay.

Rebman would rather hang out and show Fine and Anderson a homeless camp where people complained about the trash and waste than help clean up the property prior to the visit from elected officials. It was more important to Rebman to show people the problem than to take care of it without pomp and self promotion.

Furthermore, in Palm Bay, Lisa Morrell and the Chief of Police disputed Rebman’s accusation that people had be “trespassed” and ordered off the property (upon which they were illegally trespassing to being with.)

From the minutes of the meeting:

Mrs. Morrell advised that no one had been trespassed from the property. The owners were notified by the City as several complaints had been received from neighboring properties about the trash on the rights-of-way from the vacant property. There were no “No Trespass” signs on the property and no one had been trespassed from the property to date. However, it was the owners right to erect no trespass signs on their properties and it was the Police Department’s duty to enforce any related laws. Mrs. Morrell said it was the City’s goal to aid those in need.

Chief Moya advised that no one had been physically escorted or trespassed from the property, but the individuals were encouraged to relocate as it was believed that the property owner would be posting the property for trespassing. Information pamphlets had been given to residents of the camp.

This means that the facts of the incident totally contradict what Rebman claims happened.

No one was removed from the property. No one was “trespassed” from the property. If you listen to the comments of Chief Moya on the video, he says that his officers took pamphlets with services for the homeless and distributed it to the people in the camp, advising them that if the property owner wanted them off the property, they would have to go. Moya said the police told the people illegally on the property that they should “think about making other arrangements” and at the same time, giving information to the people in the “camp.”

The people in Palm Bay are generous and caring. No one wants to see someone homeless.

The real issue is whether Palm Bay wants to have people take the lead on the homeless that have a proven track record, or people who are interested in publicity.

We cannot listen to “advocates” who argue that the rights of people – all people including property owners – don’t matter.

Palm Bay and the City Council should be leery of such people.

2 Responses to “Palm Bay: No Trespassing For Homeless?”

  1. Randy felty says:

    Nail meet head

  2. Theresa Woodring says:

    Does Redman realize that neighbors solor lights have been stolen plus many bikes. Not to mention the descusting pool float story. Gross. People will put up with only so much. Not every solar light nor every bike is stolen by a homeless person but it seems odd to have things such as solor light stolen. If you watch, which I do, homeless that stand out at home depot and Walmart, which I donate to. They have drinks and fast food bags eating and drinking.. when they leave…. most leave that mess. Maybe Redman should be teaching the homeless how to be better neighbors. How to carry those drinks and bags to the trash.. I imagine he feels home depot should pay to clean up after them after being kind enough to allow them to panhandle on their property.
    Redman needs to let the services work that are out there instead of badmouthing the groups that offer actual help.
    I know it’s a little off topic.. sorry.

  3. […] our post the other day on homeless “advocate” Tom Rebman’s comments to the City Council, a screenshot of a Facebook post Rebman had made about the alleged incident was […]