Commissioners vote to end panhandling on Sarasota roads

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:22 pm | Updated: 6:07 pm, Mon Apr 29, 2013.

SARASOTA, Fla. – At a special meeting Tuesday, city leaders discussed panhandling and voted on a measure they hope will put an end to people soliciting funds on the roadways.

"We need to send a message to the community; not just to all of you who perhaps live here, but to everybody all over the country and all over the world," said Sarasota mayor Suzanne Atwell.

And that message is that panhandling in the city of Sarasota needs to stop. “Well it was more than an annoyance, or nuisance, it was again, the concern for the safety of both the individuals on the street panhandling, and also the driver’s safety," says vice-mayor Willie Shaw.

And with that concern in mind, city officials voted 4-1 to enact a panhandle ordinance.

But not everyone is happy about it. "We think the ordinance does a lot more than prohibit standing in the median or in the street. The ordinance actually bans conduct on sidewalks, so we have problem with that. We don't believe that's constitutional," says Michael Barfield with the ACLU.

The new law prevents panhandlers from interacting with drivers. And that interaction doesn't have to be verbal, because there is a clause in the ordinance that says anyone with the intent to panhandle can be cited.

“Its’ not content neutral; it attempts to ban certain messages and certain speakers unequally. And we think the law requires the city to treat everyone fairly," says Barfield.

There is also a clause in the new law that allows fundraiser and business advertisements to be along the road ways. That’s another issue that is causing some concern.

“The guy standing up on Hillview and 41…twirling a sign and dancing to something on his boom box…that’s a lot more distracting to a driver. So what is good for one is good for all," says Gordon Hornikel, Jr.

The ordinance will go into effect April 29th.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • kittykat posted at 11:09 am on Wed, Apr 24, 2013.

    kittykat Posts: 10

    About time! I hate beggers!!

     
  • brad_pitt posted at 9:40 pm on Tue, Apr 23, 2013.

    brad_pitt Posts: 1

    This is good to hear. I've seen several accidents almost happen because someone would start to drive off, then stop to hand out some money without considering those behind them. Plus since our town relies heavily on tourism, it's not the most inviting scene, seeing these people at every corner.

     

SUBMIT PHOTOS & VIDEOS | VIEW ALL PHOTOS & VIDEOS

Send your photos & videos to Pix@MySuncoast.com and you could be featured on ABC 7 & our website.