People seeking handout insteadgiven boot from city intersections
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The days of a guy sitting on the Roaring Fork Marketplace sign holding a cardboard message requesting money could be numbered. A recently approved amendment to the city’s solicitation ordinance targets anyone panhandling within 100 feet of a city intersection or right-of-way. The addition to the ordinance was approved on first reading at City Council’s June 17 meeting and is expected to take effect July 11. Although the entrance to the Roaring Fork Marketplace is one of the more visible locations for panhandlers – not to mention a flat, comfortable place for them to sit – Mayor Larry Emery said the ordinance isn’t necessarily aimed at that location. “I don’t think it’s aimed at one specific location, it’s just the type of thing we couldn’t enforce on private property,” he said. Drivers have enough to deal with at an intersection without being approached by a panhandler, Emery said. “I think the problem goes back to even before this council,” Emery said, referring to the current lineup of council members elected in November 2003. “We were trying to find a way to keep people from panhandling back then.”Emery said the idea behind the ordinance came from a myriad of citizen complaints by people who are bothered by those seeking spare change. Councilman Dan Richardson was the only person on the board to vote against the addition to the ordinance. He said his main concern is the possibility of unintended consequences from such a law. “I think, ‘What if my nieces want to set up a lemonade stand?'” he said. Richardson also said once the panhandlers learn the law, they might find ways to get around it. “It will relocate them,” he said.Richardson said he’s sensitive to the problems brought on by some of the homeless people in Glenwood Springs, but he said the new law might simply make the problem less visible to the average person. “I don’t think it necessarily does it justice to hide the problem,” he said. Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson said when the new law takes effect, he’ll likely explain its finer points to solicitors before handing out citations. “I think we’d be inclined to give some warnings to some folks,” he said. Wilson said the biggest reason he wanted to see the ordinance is to keep panhandlers from snarling traffic at busy intersections – such as the ones at the 116 exit of Interstate 70 and the Roaring Fork Marketplace intersection near McDonald’s.Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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