Officials in West Palm Beach, Florida, are playing continuous loops of children’s songs “Baby Shark” and “Raining Tacos” overnight to keep the homeless from sleeping on the patio of the city’s Lake Pavilion, and to keep the area clean, Mayor Keith James told Fox News.
“Workers in the morning were finding some unsanitary things, including human feces, around the Lake Pavilion,” he said.
The pavilion, a glass-walled events venue that overlooks the waterfront and downtown’s Great Lawn, hosted 164 events from June 1, 2018 through June 30 of this year, almost half of which were weddings, The Palm Beach Post reported. The hall brings the city about $240,000 in revenue annually.
“People are paying a lot of money to use the facility,” said Leah Rockwell, Parks and Recreation Director. “Thousands of dollars. We want to make sure people paying this money had a facility that was clean and open and continue to use it in the future.”
Lately, she says, more and more homeless have been bedding down on the pavilion patio. The city has therefore resorted to new tactics.
It got so bad James said he couldn’t take his children to the park because the homeless mainly took it over.
However, several homeless people say it is ‘wrong’ to chase people away with music. Illaya Champion, a homeless man, told The Palm Beach Post that he would not be bothered by the music.
“I still lay down in there,” he said. “But it’s on and on, the same songs.”
But so far, Rockwell said, the strategy has paid off.
“It has been effective and is a temporary measure to make the area accessible for those who have rented the facility and for future events,” she said. “We are not forcing individuals to stay on the patio of the pavilion to listen to the music. The music is heard only if you are on the patio, a very small area relative to the rest of the waterfront.”
The city has tried weaponizing music before. To get rid of drug dealers, the police played classical music through rooftop speakers in protective casings, James said. Eventually, the drug dealers smashed the electrical cabinet that powered the speakers.
The new strategy is not intended to be a permanent solution for addressing the city’s influx of homeless people, James said. To that end, the city partners with nonprofit groups and engages with the homeless to get them much-needed services.
“It’s not meant to be the Band-Aid, the cure-all,” he said.