Monday, February 11, 2008

Ocala cracks down on panhandling

Ocala has taken a hard-line approach to panhandling by eliminating all street transactions through a new ordinance.

The city's prior law was similar to a Marion County ordinance, which is being challenged in federal court. The county has beeen barred from enforcing it.

The Marion County ordinance requires panhandlers to obtain a license to beg and prohibits begging on roads and near interstate ramps.

Ocala's prior law required panhandlers to apply for an occupational license, which cost $100.

The new city ordinance does not prohibit charitable drives, protesting, panhandling, or begging on the sidewalk or on private property so long as it does not interfere with traffic.

Read the Ocala Star-Banner report here.

4 Comments:

At 12:30 AM, OpenID michael said...

Wow!

I didn't realize that any city or township had the clout - or the gaul - to require a person to obtain a permit prior to exercising a freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

What's next? A permisson slip from the city before a person can do something nice for someone else?

- michael -

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger Jacqueline Dowd said...

I guess I come to this from a different perspective ... after all, I live in a city where it is illegal to share food with too many hungry or homeless people.

Thanks for reading, Michael. I've added your blog to the blogroll.

 
At 9:03 PM, OpenID michael said...

After re-reading the article in the Ocala Star-Banner, I must admit that it does make sense, from a safety stand point, to prohibit anyone from soliciting "in" the street. Prohibiting everyone from that activity is indeed the fairest way - although I'm sure that the ordinance is geared primarily toward the local area homeless.

However, I wonder if perhaps the most efficient way of keeping the homeless from panhandling is to reduce the numbers of homeless by developing effective ways of helping the homeless become non-homeless.

The city of Seattle has discovered that they are saving money (over $3 million the past year) by finding stable living environments for their homeless.

They are using a "Housing First" initative program.

- michael -

 
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