City leaders agree on new solicitation ordinance

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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 10:09 pm | Updated: 6:22 pm, Wed May 8, 2013.

SARASOTA-- The City of Sarasota has moved forward with putting in place a new solicitation ordinance. It replaces an existing ordinance that was repealed last year.

On Monday night, Commissioners approved the new ordinance 5-0. Leaders still need to approve it again during a second reading next week. The ordinance will prohibit solicitation of any kind in the roadway that involves an exchange between a pedestrian and motorist. That means the handing out of money, food, brochures and other items will not be allowed.

"I think this will be a big relief for people and it will make the roads and streets safer," said Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin.

Since the city's previous ordinance was repealed, members of the area's homeless population have shown up in full force, holding signs and asking motorists for money on city medians and sidewalks.

"Just judging from the feedback we are receiving from the community, it is essential to pass some ordinance like this," said Barwin.

Barwin says the ordinance is similar to others initiated by municipalities around the state. Still, it's likely, the ACLU will in someway challenge the ordinance.

"We think the new law would be applied to a lot of activity protected by the 1st Amendment," said ACLU Legal Panel Chairman, Michael Barfield. "We are not happy with these nuisance type ordinances that are directed toward the people who have no means and that the majority, or status quo, want to disperse out of the community."

If approved during the second reading, the ordinance will be enforced in the upcoming weeks. A violator could face a fine of up to $500 and up to two months behind bars.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Mzwick posted at 12:33 pm on Wed, Apr 17, 2013.

    Mzwick Posts: 1

    It is about time that Sarasota does this. I pass these people everyday on my way to and from work. It is not only dangerous for them to be in the median but for motorists too. I am sorry that they have fallen on hard times and realize my blessings to have a job. However, I am also angered by them. I wonder just how much money they are getting tax free. I also wonder just how many of them who claim to be veterans really are. I served my country as did many of my friends and family. I have offered them food before and they decline saying they would rather have the money. No person who is really hungry would decline food. thank you sarasota

  • The Mommmmmie posted at 11:55 am on Wed, Apr 17, 2013.

    The Mommmmmie Posts: 4

    Does this also affect the fire fighters doing the boot collections for MDS, etc.?

  • William Anderson posted at 8:38 am on Wed, Apr 17, 2013.

    William Anderson Posts: 7

    Cross your fingers that the city has come up with a law that will stop the dangerous practice of panhandling in traffic, one that will win in court if it is challenged as a violation of civil rights. It's about time that those suing the city for questionable motives start paying all the legal bills instead of the people getting sued attempting to help the community.


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