By: Caitlin O'Kane | CBS News
July 17, 2019
Officials in West Palm Beach have a new way to keep homeless people from laying around the city's Lake Pavilion: "Baby Shark."
The extremely popular — and extremely repetitive — children's song can be heard playing on loop all night long around the pavilion, The Palm Beach Post reports. In addition to "Baby Shark," the city is also playing another children's hit, "Raining Tacos."
It won't be raining tacos for the people who sleep around the pavilion — unless they can withstand this potent musical deterrent. The tactic is reminiscent of the blaring music once used by American interrogators to torment prisoners in the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
Local officials are trying to stop homeless people from congregating around the glass-walled waterfront pavilion overlooking the town's Great Lawn. The venue hosted 164 events over the past year, from weddings to business meetings, bar mitzvahs and birthday parties. The city expects the event space will make $240,000 this year.
Leah Rockwell, the city's Parks and Recreation director, said event staff and customers shouldn't have to trip over bodies when they're setting up an event in the early morning hours. Likewise, a bride shouldn't have to walk over a sleeping person when she leaves her party at midnight, Rockwell said.
"People are paying a lot of money to use the facility. Thousands of dollars," Rockwell told The Palm Beach Post. "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."
In an emailed statement to CBS News, West Palm Beach Communications Director Kathleen Walter confirmed music is played on the Great Lawn during the day and at night as a "temporary measure."
"Music is also played overnight on a loop by our pavilion to discourage congregating and, if appropriate, to encourage people to seek safer, more appropriate shelter through the many resources that are available," Walter wrote. "The music volume complies with City code, and we are exploring the possibility of having set hours for the Great Lawn and pavilion."
By choosing the songs "Baby Shark" and "Raining Tacos," it seems officials learned from the mistake of another municipality. The City of Lake Worth tried using classical music to drive homeless people away from the town's Cultural Plaza — but they ended up liking the songs.