Sacramento will Crack down on Panhandling due to Complaints
Last month, the Sacramento City Council unanimously adopted a pair of ordinances that target aggressive panhandling and unruly behavior in city parks. These new regulations are in response to increasing complaints from business owners and tourism groups about aggressive behavior. City police had originally proposed harsher restrictions over the summer, but eased some of those controls, due to concerns from the public. Mayor Darrell Steinberg stated,
We are in fact making unprecedented efforts in our city and our community to get people off the streets. If we’re going to ask for patience from the broader community as we deal with it, because it’s going to take some years to feel a positive impact, then we have to respond to some of the behavior out there that is anti-social, that is illegal and is in fact threatening to people.
One of the new ordinances will ban aggressive panhandling 30 feet from ATMs and public transit stops, and from people pumping gas at fuel pumps. Police will also crack down on panhandling on medians and near outdoor dining areas at restaurants. Those who violate the ordinance could be cited with an infraction and a third offense within six months would result in a misdemeanor. The other ordinance will allow police in city parks to remove anyone who violates existing rules and they will be able to cite people who refuse to leave a park or return within 24 hours with an infraction. Those who violate the ordinance three times in six months would be subjected to misdemeanor arrest.
Homeless activists argued that the new rules were too harsh. It will be interesting to see if the ordinances will actually curb aggressive panhandling.