Sarasota panhandling ban starts Monday - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Sarasota panhandling ban starts Monday

Posted: Updated:
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Panhandling is now illegal in the city of Sarasota.

It's been a big issue in the city for months, and a new ordinance has taken effect that bans begging from street corners. 

Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said if a panhandler is spotted, they will be warned then either ticketed or arrested.

It's a sight that's now hard to find- panhandlers on street corners.

Many of Sarasota's vagrant population have quickly vanished.

The reason? Starting Monday, police have started cracking down on panhandlers.

In February, a circuit judge ordered a 60 day injunction that prevented the city from interfering with the First Amendment rights of the homeless.

While the injunction was in place, city officials said panhandling became a serious issue. Beggars holding signs were found along most major roadways. But last week city commissioners approved a new ordinance that they believe is constitutional.

And police officers began enforcing it on Monday.

DiPino said, "Giving [panhandlers] money is keeping them in that position."

Sarasota police chief Bernadette DiPino said the new ordinance is good for the city.

"I think ultimately it's gonna help individuals who are out on the street, asking for money, it'll give us a chance to focus on getting them the help and resources they need," said DiPino.

Soliciting will no longer be allowed along roadways, medians and sidewalks.

Advertisers are excluded- they'll still be able to wave their signs.

She said, "Whether you're giving somebody a dollar or a bottle of water or whatever it is, if there is some type of interaction there, that's when the violation comes into play."

DiPino said it is legal for a driver or passenger to voluntarily hand out money from a car, but it is illegal to ask for donations from the roadway.

Officers are now keeping an eye out on their regular patrols, and signs have been posted to inform motorists.

But this doesn't sit well with the ACLU.

ACLU Attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen said, "The focus has been on homeless people but we're concerned that it will chill free speech rights of everyone."

The ACLU Sarasota chapter will keep tabs on all citations that are issued.

They're going to see if there are any first amendment violations.

Mogensen said, "I do think that there's a better way to handle the issue of homeless. When you have the government try to legislate away a social problem, you're gonna run afoul on the constitution."

All along, city officials have said this ordinance is more about driver safety, but Chief DiPino thinks it can help the homeless population too.

"We're hoping that they'll actually give their money to charitable organizations and there are so many of them doing so many good things for those people who need money and need help and resources," said DiPino.

This ordinance means nobody can solicit.

That includes newspaper salesmen and firemen with their ‘Fill the boot' campaign.

Those boot drives raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Merv Kennel, the president of Suncoast Firefighters said as a result of this ordinance, firemen have had to raise funds in front of restaurants and grocery stores.

Kennel said the donated cash pales in comparison to the money raised on street corners.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Tampa Bay Water begins filling Bill Young reservoir

    Tampa Bay Water begins filling Bill Young reservoir

    Thursday, July 31 2014 10:33 AM EDT2014-07-31 14:33:05 GMT
    Tampa Bay Water is celebrating a rebirth of sort for its beleaguered Bill Young reservoir. TBW is now diverting water from the Alafia river and filling the reservoir after a massive gutting and renovation project that cost in excess of $124 million dollars.
    Tampa Bay Water is celebrating a rebirth of sort for its beleaguered Bill Young reservoir. TBW is now diverting water from the Alafia river and filling the reservoir after a massive gutting and renovation project that cost in excess of $124 million dollars.
  • Pool parasite invades Pinellas County

    Pool parasite invades Pinellas County

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:25 AM EDT2014-07-31 10:25:05 GMT
    Health officials say the parasite that causes 'Crypto' could be in your pool. Health officials say the parasite that causes 'Crypto' could be in your pool.
    Health Department officials in Pinellas County are putting out a warning about a parasite that can lurk in swimming pools and water parks.

    Health Department officials in Pinellas County are putting out a warning about a parasite that can lurk in swimming pools and water parks. And, if it invades your body, you're in for a rough ride - it's called Cryptosporidium.


  • Hyundai recalls 888,700 Sonata Sedans

    Hyundai recalls 888,700 Sonata Sedans

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:14 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:14:48 GMT
    Over 800,000 Hyundai Sonata Sedans have been recalled. Over 800,000 Hyundai Sonata Sedans have been recalled.
    Hyundai is recalling its popular Sonata midsize sedan to fix problems with the gear shift levers.The recall covers 883,000 cars from the 2011 through 2014 model years.Stay connected with the news of the day.
    Hyundai is recalling its popular Sonata midsize sedan to fix problems with the gear shift levers.The recall covers 883,000 cars from the 2011 through 2014 model years.Stay connected with the news of the day.
  • NewsMore>>

  • 2 Pinellas chickens test positive for encephalitis

    2 Pinellas chickens test positive for encephalitis

    Thursday, July 31 2014 3:29 PM EDT2014-07-31 19:29:42 GMT
    Health officials are asking residents to use mosquito repellent and to eliminate standing water around their homes after two sentinel chickens tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis.
    Health officials are asking residents to use mosquito repellent and to eliminate standing water around their homes after two sentinel chickens tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis.
  • Polk deputies assist in search for missing teen

    Polk deputies assist in search for missing teen

    Thursday, July 31 2014 2:24 PM EDT2014-07-31 18:24:00 GMT
    Sanel Saint Simon booking photo (left), Alexandria Chery (right): Photo Courtesy WESHSanel Saint Simon booking photo (left), Alexandria Chery (right): Photo Courtesy WESH
    The Polk County Sheriff's Office says they are assisting the Orange County Sheriff's Office in the search for a missing person in the Champions Gate area in Osceola County, according to WESH 2 News.
    The Polk County Sheriff's Office says they are assisting the Orange County Sheriff's Office in the search for a missing person in the Champions Gate area in Osceola County, according to WESH 2 News.
  • Citrus man accused of transmitting HIV, more victims possible

    Citrus man accused of transmitting HIV, more victims possible

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:33 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:33:57 GMT
    The Citrus County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man for allegedly transmitting HIV to at least one woman.
    The Citrus County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man for allegedly transmitting HIV to at least one woman.
  • Virginia Settles ABC Lawsuit

    Virginia Settles ABC Lawsuit

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:09 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:09:02 GMT
    Attorney General Mark Herring says the Commonwealth has reached a settlement with Elizabeth Daly in her $40 million lawsuit against several agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
    Attorney General Mark Herring says the Commonwealth has reached a settlement with Elizabeth Daly in her $40 million lawsuit against several agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
  • Franklin County accident causes lane closures on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:31 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:31:25 GMT
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
  • Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:41 AM EDT2014-07-30 04:41:44 GMT
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.