BROOKSVILLE — As Hernando County prepares to install benches and shelters at about 45 bus stops, the commission on Tuesday approved a new rule to avoid a problem faced by other mass transit systems: reclining riders.
The ordinance, approved unanimously, prohibits anyone from fully reclining on a bench, within a bus shelter or on the surrounding sidewalk during normal bus operation hours.
"It's a problem that going to come up later on,'' assistant county attorney Randall Griffiths told commissioners.
"This is not about homelessness. This is not about sleeping. It's basically about not hogging" benches, he said, and explained that these are for the convenience of the users of THE Bus.
Commissioner Jim Adkins asked: "Who are the snoozer police?''
Griffiths explained that ordinance violations would go to the county's code enforcement office.
Adkins persisted: "You can sleep sitting up?'' He was told that sitting and sleeping were okay.
The ordinance didn't sit well with everyone.
"This is a joke,'' said county resident Joe Lemieux, who said he couldn't imagine the county arresting someone for lying down on a bench.
"This is really a ridiculous law,'' resident Charles McBrearty said.
County attorney Garth Coller said the idea for enacting a law of this nature was to stave off future problems.
"The ordinance points out that fully reclining in or on such specific use areas is dangerous for the person and is unnecessarily disruptive and inconvenient,'' according to the commissioners' backup materials.
"We have to draw the line,'' Griffiths told commissioners. "It's about people impinging on the bus riders.''
"If you want to go sit on a bench,'' Coller added, "go to a park.''
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.