A Florida city hoping to keep homeless people from congregating and sleeping in a public park is trying an unusual strategy — blasting the song “Baby Shark” at them until they leave.
As the Associated Press reported, officials in West Palm Beach are planning to play a continuous loop of children’s songs through the night to keep homeless people from sleeping there. City officials said they have run into problems with people camping out near the glass-walled Lake Pavilion, a popular attraction that brings in $240,000 in revenue each year from public events.
The report said that the plan to blast songs like “Baby Shark” and “Raining Tacos” is a temporary solution, with the city also planning to create formal hours for the park that would make it easier to remove homeless people for trespassing violations.
Leah Rockwell, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said it isn’t fair to people who pay to rent the pavilion to have to be around homeless people sleeping in the park.
“People are paying a lot of money to use the facility,” she told the Palm Beach Post. “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.”
As the report noted, other nearby municipalities have tried similar strategies to mixed results. In Lake Worth Beach, officials played classical music all day and night in Cultural Plaza in an effort to drive away homeless people and drug dealers, but the music was actually well-received.
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Other people have taken measures into their own hands to combat musical deterrents.
“Fifteen years ago, to drive violent drug dealers from Tamarind Avenue, the West Palm Beach Police Department played classical music through rooftop speakers housed in protective metal casings. That ended when somebody smashed the electrical cabinet that powered the speakers,” the report noted.
The plan to use “Baby Shark” to drive away homeless people is not without controversy, and officials in West Palm Beach say they are not simply trying to annoy those who sleep in the park without also helping them. The city has worked with a number of non-profit groups to meet the needs of local homeless people, including building subsidized housing and engaging with groups of homeless people to connect them to needed services. That strategy includes purchasing bus tickets for those who are not from the area, as some of these individuals might want to go home to family or friends.