May
29

Columbia Plans to Get Tough on Panhandling

By

Beggars’ territory shrinks
City bans panhandling at night, at ATMs, at drive-throughs

May 29, 2008

By ADAM BEAM – The State

Columbia City Council, on the heels of a nationwide trend to restrict beggars in downtown shopping and dining districts, passed an aggressive-panhandling ordinance Wednesday that some say will be difficult to enforce.

“Aggressive begging” has been illegal in the city since 1991, but the vague ordinance hasn’t been enforced that often, city officials said.

The new ordinance, approved 5-0, with Mayor Bob Coble and Councilman Kirkman Finlay absent, restricts when and where a person can beg for money, including:

• At night

• At an ATM or bank

• At outdoor seating for a restaurant

• At a drive-through

But the city could run into problems enforcing the new ordinance.

Penalties range from a $500 fine to 30 days in jail. Beggars typically can’t pay the fine.

That leaves jail time. But starting in July, the city has to pay Richland County $25 per person per day for those it sends to the county jail. City Manager Charles Austin has said the city can’t afford that and has told police chief Tandy Carter to write more tickets and send fewer people to jail.

Because panhandling is a misdemeanor, police officers can make an arrest only if they see it happen or if a victim signs a warrant.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.thestate.com/local/story/418433.html
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BLOG NOTE:
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This article is posted because Columbia complains about not being able to attract retailers to Main Street. Is the homeless issue a factor? I say it is. Please give us your thoughts by clicking on “Comments” below.
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MBD

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