City passes aggressive solicitation ordinance

Credit: KTVB

A man holding a sign that reads "Homeless Carpenter, Please Help, God Bless," panhandles near I-184 in downtown Boise.

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 9:16 AM

BOISE -- Tuesday night the Boise city council voted 3 to 1 to pass an aggressive solicitation ordinance. The city said this will not make panhandling illegal, but will help curb overly aggressive panhandlers.

Before the meeting started, dozens of people gathered outside Boise City Hall to protest the aggressive solicitation ordinance. Some protesters sang songs, made speeches, and brought all kinds of signs demonstrating their beliefs.

Those who oppose the ordinance say they believe the law will not help the homeless, but "hides" them and pushes them out of the city center.

"The homelessness is not the problem; it's a symptom of the problem, and the problem is we have so many jobs that don't pay people enough to make a living," said Vicky McKee, who has been homeless.

Others worry that it will limit the civil liberties of everyone in Boise.

"It will ... mostly effect people experiencing homelessness and people in poverty right now," said Barbara Kemp, who came to the city council meeting and the protest. "But if you read the ordinance closely, it effects every citizen in Boise, and it's an infringement on my rights."

WHAT DOES THE ORDINANCE DO?

  • Limits solicitation at sidewalk cafes, ATMs, and in roadways
  • Punishes panhandlers who keep soliciting after being asked to stop
  • Goes into effect January 2, 2014
  • Will be reviewed after 12 months

Officials with the city of Boise have said the law will not stop all panhandling, but is intended to stop panhandlers who are too aggressive.

Read a memo from Boise Chief of Police Michael Masterson to Mayor Bieter outlining the new laws.

"There is a constitutional right to passively solicit in the rights of way," said Adam Park, Communications Director for the City of Boise. That's going to be maintained. This ordinance doesn't change that, it just limits the time, place, and manner and we think that's an appropriate step to take, given what we've seen over the last several years."

ENFORCEMENT

The ordinance will limit solicitation in certain places like sidewalk cafes, ATMs, and in the road. It will punish those who are aggressively soliciting, the people who get a "no" but keep on pushing.

On the first violation people get a warning, on the second people will get an infraction, and those who are caught again within a year are charged with a misdemeanor.

The new law will go into effect January 2, 2014, and after a year, the Boise Police Department, Mayor and City Council will review the results.

Between now and January, the Boise Police Department will be working to educate the public on the new ordinance.

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