Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No surprise: Orlando bans
panhandling after dark

Orlando has outlawed panhandling after dark, but the Orlando Sentinel found that the city hasn't been sticking to the rules already on the books.

Since 2000, downtown panhandlers have been allowed to beg only in blue boxes painted on the sidewalk. Of the 36 boxes painted downtown seven years ago, only five are still visible. The city's panhandling ordinance also requires the Orlando Police Department to hand out maps showing panhandling zone locations upon request. But a clerk at police headquarters said the department long ago ran out of the maps and no longer distributes them.

Commissioner Robert Stuart cast the only vote against the new ordinance. He argued that the city should concentrate on educating residents to donate to homeless services rather than panhandlers. "My problem is, there is no alternative today other than enforcement," he said. "This issue needs to have something else that comes along with it."

Anyone caught panhandling anywhere in the city between sunset and sunrise will face fines of as much as $500, up to 60 days in jail, or both.

Read the Orlando Sentinel report here.


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