Thursday, September 13, 2007

No panhandling in the dark, Orlando says

Orlando City Council has given a preliminary thumbs up to banning begging at night.

By a 5-to-1 vote, commissioners approved the first reading of a new ordinance* that would prohibit panhandling anywhere between sunset and sunrise. This ordinance is only the latest of the city's effort to regulate the streets.

First, Orlando tried to ban panhandling completely. When that was struck down by the courts, the city required panhandlers to apply for permits before asking for spare change. Then Orlando restricted downtown begging to a few dozen "panhandling zones," which are
3-by-15-foot blue boxes painted on the sidewalks.

According to Orlando Police Chief Mike McCoy, this latest change isn't against the homeless. It's an issue of public safety.

"I just want to make sure it's not characterized as anti-homeless, anti-feeding, criminalizing the homeless opportunity,” said McCoy. “This is for the citizen, yourself, your mom or dad in the city of Orlando so when nighttime comes, you don't have to worry about someone coming up to you for money."

A final vote is set for Sept. 17.

Read the Orlando Sentinel article here.
* If you want to read the ordinance, go to the Orlando City Council's agenda webpage. On the left side, select 2007/09/17 (that's the date of the next meeting). Scroll to the bottom; the proposed ordinance is the last thing on the agenda. Click on the document icon, then click on the attachment.


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