January 04, 2013

Panhandling Sub-Committee Hearing

Last night I spoke in support of the proposed ordinance because:

  1. It does not prevent anyone from holding a sign on a public sidewalk.  It only targets people who act aggressively.    
  2. Does not allow people to be in the streets.    I look at this merely  as public safety issue.    

There has been alot of discussion that Little League teams. the WFD and other worthy causes will fall under this ordinance.  Althought this was an unintended consequence, we can find alternatives for these groups.   These groups may have to go to local businesses and ask permission to ask for money no different then what Salvation Army does.


Jahn said...

Did they define "act(ing) aggressively"?

Do We already have laws that address walking in traffic that are not being enforced?

Let the little league participants and their parent(s)pay their own way. WTH do they get off asking me for money do subsidize their pastimes. This what's wrong today! No one paid for my dirt bike, go cart racing, and Bebe gun sports when I was kid. I ponied up the money myself at 4.5 cents per newspaper delivered or caddying at $6-$7 for 18 holes doubles and I never had to solicit any gifts........the 5 cents per week paperboy tip was always left in the front door w/o asking or soliciting.....and the non tipping customers always got the wet newspapers on rainy days.

Will we now have the Fire Dept soliciting from fire station property or other city owned property and if they do so on behalf Jerry Lewis's Muscular Dystrophy are we then by default discriminating against other charities. Ya never know how some of these lawyers and judges see things

As to private property owners allowing solicitaion on their property.......up goes your insurance.....and if the SEIU shows up you may not be able to prevent them from soliciting. That's why many businesses no longer allow the likes of the Salvation Army soliciting at Christmas which i think is sad....but so goes it.

Anonymous said...

I think #1 is inaccurate. This does, for example, prevent people from soliciting near bus stops, after dusk, etc. Would be more accurate to say, "Soliciting is not banned at all times and in all places."

Brendan Melican said...

You couldn't be less correct, Bill. The proposal reads as written:

"The City further finds that aggressive soliciting, begging or panhandling of persons within 20 feet of any outdoor seating area of any cafe, restaurant or other business, bank, automated teller machine, automated teller machine facility, check cashing business, mass transportation facility, mass transportation stop, or pay telephone also subjects people being solicited to improper and undue influence and/or fear and should not be allowed."

Definitions matter. A strict reading of this ordinance allows the individual from whom assistance is being requested to be the arbiter of what is 'aggressive' and what 'induces fear', and therefore will ban any requests for assistance from another individual, anywhere in the city beyond a few select forests.

It's nice that the business community came out to support though, now I know where not to spend my money in the city.

Bill Randell said...

I don't know... I think the ordinance makes alot of sense.. If a private property wants to let a group ask for donations, it is their right to allow or not allow..

Bill Randell said...


I think the key word is "aggressive". You can hold a sign/panhandle at any of the locations that you listed above.

The key being "improper and undue influence and/or fear and should not be allowed".

At least that is the way I understand it and was the way the City Solicitor explained it last night.


Rich Greenhalgh said...

"the individual from whom assistance is being requested" AKA the harassee. Who would you have be the "arbiter", the harasser?

This is better than "undocumented workers"

Brendan Melican said...

Sure. But what is "aggressive" and who defines it in this case? If the section of the ordinance I quoted stays, anyone who finds an individual intimidating gets to make that call. I'm going to guess you interact with people all the time at the store who many people would find terrifying to stand near, never mind if they were approached by them. Not everyone views the world through the same lens.

My point is simply that if an ordinance is written in a way that allows for this much interpretation, it's all but guaranteed that a) harmless people who actually could use a hand will be negatively impacted and b) we'e just lining ourselves up for yet another lawsuit we can't afford.

We have a legal team, it would be nice if instead of just crafting ordinances, they actually attempted to run them through litmus tests to ensure they're drafting good law.

Bill Randell said...


Any ordinance has a certain amount of interpretation. I am comfortable with the WPD and how they will enforce it.

Again I support the ordinance.