Council bans panhandling

City council passed a panhandling ban today:

The Houston City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday that makes panhandling an illegal practice, KPRC Local 2 reported.

After weeks of debate and some delay, City Council members approved a plan that makes it illegal for minors and adults to stand in medians and on the side of Houston's streets asking passers-by for money.

Council members said they want a zero-tolerance policy on panhandlers, loosely defined as homeless people who stand in intersections asking for money or offer to wash windows for free or for tips.

The city leaders said they also hope the ordinance will encourage children to hold bake sales and car washes on private property, a location they consider a safer alternative.

Councilman Michael Berry called the panhandling problem a public safety issue.

"With regard to minors, we were getting a lot of calls and complaints from people who were worried they were going to run over one of these kids because they are darting in between traffic and their parents obviously weren't stopping them from doing it," Berry told KPRC Local 2. "But in regard to panhandling, generally people tell us they feel unsafe when these squeegee men come up on them. They feel unsafe when they have people leaning into their car."

Berry said City Council would spend the next several weeks working to iron out the ordinance.

In the meantime, people caught in the streets or on medians with the purpose of asking for money will be charged with a misdemeanor.

In case you were worried about Chronicle vendors not being able to earn a living, fret no more:

The ordinance will not affect people selling newspapers or Houston firefighter fundraisers.

PREVIOUSLY: Chronicle vendor killed in unsafe work environment (bH)

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 12/07/05 04:42 PM | Print |

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