Center armrests tested on Oceanfront benches

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach is testing a way to prevent people from sleeping on benches at the Oceanfront.

City officials tell us they added center armrests 16 along the boardwalk to prevent homeless people from sleeping on them. The pilot program is being conducted only on benches between 18th Street and 20th Street.

We learned this was a recommendation from the Resort Advisory Commission. If the pilot program is successful, center armrests could be installed on more benches. But right now, there are no plans to expand the installation.

“If somebody feels that that’s a pragmatic way or solution to something they see as problematic, then obviously there has to be something done,” said Virginia Beach resident Troy Smith. “Obviously you want to take steps to keep people safe, and I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with somebody sleeping, however, if it’s city property, then you’ve got a whole other issue to look at … but it doesn’t seem very nice, because then no one can lay down there for a short nap.”

The city said the pilot program will be evaluated by the Virginia Beach Police Department this summer to determine how effective the center armrest is. After that, officials will decide whether to expand the idea.


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