SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 21, 2013

Salem looks to curb 'aggressive' panhandling

(Continued)

“Panhandling is protected under the freedom of speech. It’s the aggressive panhandling we’re trying to go after,” said Ward 3 Councilor Todd Siegel, who worked with Tucker and Beth Rennard, the city’s lawyer, to craft the panhandling ordinance.

“It’s getting worse. ... There’s been issues of people going up to tourists, randomly. There are repeated complaints about specific people.”

The proposed ordinance is based on one in the city of Everett, Siegel said.

Worcester’s City Council recently passed an ordinance to limit aggressive panhandling, focusing on those who approach vehicles in traffic. Boston’s City Council is considering a similar ordinance this winter and has the support of Mayor Thomas Menino.

At last week’s Salem City Council meeting, Siegel suggested moving the panhandling ordinance to committee so councilors could see how the Boston City Council handles the issue.

Depending on what happens in Boston, Salem councilors could make changes to Salem’s proposed ordinance, Siegel said.

“We’re going to pass some form of it, but we want to take the time to make sure we get it correct,” Siegel said. “We want to make sure we didn’t miss anything. We don’t want to have to do it twice.”

Tucker said he feels the proposed ordinance “strikes a balance between protecting people’s well-being and protecting rights.

“It keeps people from being victimized,” Tucker said. “... I think it’s a good order, and I’m happy the council is considering it.”

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

The following would be prohibited: Panhandling to people in a vehicle in traffic or stopped on a public street Panhandling to a person on public transportation Panhandling within 15 feet of an ATM Panhandling on private property, unless allowed by the property owner Coming within 3 feet of a person to panhandle, unless the person indicates that they want to make a donation Panhandling by intentionally "obstructing the path" of a person or vehicle Panhandling by intentionally blocking an entrance or exit to a building Panhandling to anyone under 16 Following a person that walks away from a panhandler, intending to intimidate them Using "profane or abusive language" during panhandling, or following a refusal Source: Beth Rennard, Salem city solicitor

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