Archive for Tuesday, December 9, 2008

City considers panhandling crackdown

Panhandling could become extinct downtown. City commissioners will discuss the matter tonight.

December 9, 2008


What will, won’t be allowed

Here’s a look at what would be legal and illegal under proposed panhandling regulations city commissioners are considering.

Would be illegal:

• A verbal solicitation for an immediate donation of money while on the streets, sidewalks and public rights-of-ways of downtown Lawrence. The downtown area is defined as Sixth through 11th streets from New Hampshire to Vermont streets. The ban would apply to all people, including charities, wanting to raise money downtown.

• Verbal solicitation of money on any public right-of-way during the nighttime hours.

• Aggressive panhandling, which includes touching a person while asking for money, following a person while asking for money, and blocking a person’s path while asking for money.

Would be legal

• Passive solicitations of donations, such as a person on the sidewalk holding a sign requesting money.

• Street musicians who accept tips, as long as they do not verbally ask for such donations.

• Salvation Army bell ringers, as long as they don’t verbally ask for donations.

• Charities who hand out pledge cards asking people to send money in at a later time for a cause. The groups, however, would not be able to ask for immediate donations.

Soon it may be illegal — punishable by up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine — to utter in downtown Lawrence the simple sentence: Can you spare a buck?

City commissioners at their meeting this evening will consider tougher panhandling regulations that would make it illegal for anyone to ask verbally for an immediate donation of money while on downtown sidewalks, streets or public rights-of-way.

In November, city commissioners directed staff members to come up with a new panhandling ordinance after hearing multiple complaints from downtown shop owners who said customers were becoming intimidated by the number of panhandlers downtown.

The proposed verbal ban has support from some commissioners.

“I don’t think we’re trying to create a limitation that is unreasonable,” said City Commissioner Rob Chestnut. “I think this is a case where the public welfare is definitely challenged and is definitely adversely impacted by some of the behavior we’re seeing.”

But members of the American Civil Liberties Union are expressing concerns that the proposed regulations would be an unreasonable limitation on people’s First Amendment rights to free speech.

“I think it is ridiculous,” Doug Bonney, chief legal counsel for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, said of the verbal ban. “Banning this won’t address any of the real concerns people have, and it is a joke to say that someone is going to be terrorized if a poor person asks you, ‘Brother, can you spare a dime?’”

Bonney said his group would be watching the issue closely, and may file a lawsuit against the city if the ban is approved and vigorously enforced.

Downtown merchants, though, are supportive of the proposed regulations. They say the problem is that many panhandlers are not politely asking a brother for a dime, but rather are becoming belligerent in their solicitations.

The city already has a law against aggressive panhandling, which includes the touching of a person while asking for money, following a person while asking for money or repeatedly asking someone after being rejected. But merchants have said that law involves so much interpretation that it is difficult to enforce. Creating new regulations with a bright line of what is illegal should make for easier enforcement, they say. The ACLU says the city simply hasn’t enforced the law.

But merchants also are reminding commissioners that more than just panhandlers have rights that need to be protected in this issue.

“The shoppers have rights,” said Bob Schumm, owner of Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse. “They have rights to privacy without being pestered. Shop owners have rights to expect people on the street to sell their goods to.”

City staff attorneys have pointed to other communities, including Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo., with similar bans.

But Bonney, with the ACLU, said he’s unaware that anybody has ever been prosecuted under the Kansas City ban. He said his group would challenge that law in court if it were ever used in Kansas City.


geekin_topekan 9 years, 2 months ago

How about a uniform that must be worn while downtown.That would definately seperate who's who and what's what.I have an idea for merchants.Try some customer service and reasonable prices.You can blame the bums for your shortcomings but they did not create your woes.If you cater to elitists, of course they wont come around if they are afraid.Phukem,cater to the people,they are generous,would like to see downtown revitalized to a citizen friendly place and there are more of them.Just a suggestion.I realize I know only a little.

justaverage 9 years, 2 months ago

The city should require panhandlers to have a permit. Applicants would be required to provide proper I.D., submit to a drug screening and background check. Those who don't have a permit would be arrested and put to work picking up trash and doing other chores around the city in exchange for taking up space in jail. Sounds fair to me.

greenworld 9 years, 2 months ago

Oh come on, these people are an important part of the Lawrence

Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

Offer them a job. That gets rid of them.

Phil Minkin 9 years, 2 months ago

While I too, find panhandlers annoying, I agree with the ACLU position that any infingement of freedom of speech must be opposed. The existing ordinance prohibiting agressive panhandling would be sufficient if it were enforced. Freedom of speech is an absolute, and whether it is annoying or we disagree is must be preserved and not picked cafeteria style.

bizarre 9 years, 2 months ago

The city should rent an empty shop, and name it the bum bum shop. then let the bums hang out there inside they can beg and play music or dance, and anybody wanting to donate can walk through and drop money in thier hats!

1029 9 years, 2 months ago

The city should just set up a program where a panhandler can go into the courthouse, fill out a short form, have their picture taken, and then be given $50 and a bus ticket on the condition that they will never set foot in Lawrence again. On the form they would have to acknowledge that they understand that returning to Lawrence would be punishable by torture.I'm sure Lawrence has enough

1029 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure Lawrence has enough christian conservatives to set up a "minuteman"-type enforcement effort. Volunteers could walk the streets with panhandlers' photos and beat up anyone who had signed the form and taken the fifty bucks.

chzypoof1 9 years, 2 months ago

You Sheeple frustrate me, seriously....You don't like something, so BAN it. Don't mind that it takes away someone's Freedom of Speech. People need to quit supporting measures like these. They only lead to the etching away of our fundamental rights. I don't like the bums either, but they have the right to ask for change. Get over it downtown businesses. poof

Isaias Shannon 9 years, 2 months ago

This past weekend a friend (who was carrying her 6 week old infant) and I were walking downtown about 7pm, when we were asked for $, when we refused, we were followed, cursed at violently, and finally, spit on. It was very scary (particularly for my friend b/c of having her baby with her). The LPD did a great job of following up on the incident. However, I could care less about the perpetrators right to "free speech" - where was our right to walk safely and comfortably in our downtown? I'm all for this ban.

Confrontation 9 years, 2 months ago

What will Waka1 do if this happens?! Come on people! Waka1 wouldn't be able to spend his entire day at the library if he couldn't beg you for change in the evening!

mablehazel 9 years, 2 months ago

Well I have to say that I don't enjoy people asking for money who obviously are going to use it for non-essential things in their lives. However I don't mind the individuals who just ask for a few cents to make a phone call. Often in that situation I will just hand them my cell to make the call and you will see them later getting a ride home.I also don't want the friendliness of Mass St. to fade away. We shall have to be careful not to discourage the buskers. The atmosphere that they create is wonderful. And I really think with the continuation of the Busker Festival we can have a wonderful environment for the arts on Mass and increase the human traffic downtown.In short if the city is going to have a law, it should be very clearly defined. Also I am not sure that it is wise to fine those who obviously cannot pay it for one reason or another. Maybe another penalty or relocation to a shelter might be a more wise idea and harsher penalties in proportion to the occurrences. Another idea is to have more of a walking/biking police presence on days/nights which would have more of these incidents. I have had a positive experience with Lawrence Police and I think it would be good for more of the community to meet our police personnel.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't like people anybody asking for my money. It is mine. I earned it. I saved it. And I will choose when it leaves my pocket. If you do-gooders want to protect "them", go for it. This person will not.

Luxor 9 years, 2 months ago

This will never work. Why don't they just ban pandhandling outright?

hawkperchmoocher 9 years, 2 months ago

totally unenforcable (see KCMO) and would effect the Busker Festival. Keep Lawrence weird and less like Johnson County! All you greedy GOP geezers west of Iowa and suck it and go to Wal Mart if you don't like ut

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 2 months ago

Maybe they should give them a red bucket and a bell to ring.

d_prowess 9 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps we should ban people talking on cell phones on Mass Street since some people probably think that can be an annoyance. The law we already have seems good enough to me if it was actually enforced. The story about the woman and her friend above would have been covered by what we already have. This person was already breaking the law so this additional condition would not have had any effect.

skinny 9 years, 2 months ago

If the city of Lawrence wouldn't cater to the homeless we wouldn't be having this problem!!

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 2 months ago

I'd give them some shovel my driveway and sidewalk.

BrianR 9 years, 2 months ago

Hmmmm, does this mean my kids can't ask me for money on Mass. St.?

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

They should do something, I would probably walk straight by a business if I didn't have to get something there and saw a few vagrants sitting outside. These people aren't outstanding people alot have mental issues topped off with alcholism and drug abuse. Why should a business pay the price because a drifter wants to perch-up in front of a place of business where people actually work for a living.

MeAndFannieLou 9 years, 2 months ago

Oh yeah, take away their services and the people will go away - right! That sure is what happened when so many of the mental health facilities and services dried up and blew away during the 80's and 90's, isn't it? People with mental health needs just went away! Oh wait, no they didn't, they swelled the ranks of the homeless and the panhandlers! Never mind....

laika 9 years, 2 months ago

¨City staff attorneys have pointed to other communities, including Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo., with similar bans.¨It concerns me that those are the best examples that the city attorneys could come up with, specifically the Kansas City one. KCMO did pass a pretty restrictive panhandling law, but then the police simply refused to even enforce it because it was such a 1st amendment mess. Probably not the best example to offer up if you are trying to say your law won´t be a problem.For more information...

madameX 9 years, 2 months ago

OMG, this is stupid. We already have laws on the books banning much of the behavior I've heard described (but not experienced, just saying) to justify new laws. Intimidation is not allowed, yelling, spitting, swearing, etc. ate not allowed. That said, I'm sure they do happen. Why? Because the laws are not uniformly enforced. If the laws we have aren't being enforced, then what makes anyone think new laws are going to help? What makes anyone think the new laws will somehow be better enforced? IMO, new laws are unnecessary anyway, just do a better job enforcing the ones we have that don't violate anyone's civil rights.

yankeevet 9 years, 2 months ago

My wife and I went too dinner at the "Mad Greeks" and on the way out; before we got too our car; we were approached by 4 different panhandlers; begging for money; this is annoying; I wish something could be done about these beggars of the street.

Lowell Holmes 9 years, 2 months ago

I find it funny that the people who complain the most about pay too much in taxes are the one wanting to put these people in jail at the tax payers expense. It would seem to be a little more sensible to just put a crowbar on your wallet and shell out a couple bucks now and then. I also find it amusing that they are considering fines of up to $1000 against people who are homeless and unemployed. So they can go panhandle to raise the money to pay their fine and get busted again. Makes perfect sense!

MIke Mallory 9 years, 2 months ago

most of these people are bums, I have driven by the drop in numberous times looking for workers and have been turned down multiple times, I have about 2-3 that work consistent but when I need more, I cant get any of them to work, when they ask for $$$, tell them to get a job at mcdonalds so they can make $$ and eat for free, seems easy to me.

Clickker 9 years, 2 months ago

Liquor and Cigarettes is usually what these guys want the money for. I usually just give 'em a butt from a pack of smokes and send them on their way.

treesplease 9 years, 2 months ago

I actually enjoy seeing people playing instruments or doing a jig with a hat out. I think it adds to the atmosphere even if they aren't very good. :) if they are good I'll give a buck or two and hope they come back. There used to be a guy that played sax and I loved when he was out. I do NOT really enjoy someone just hangin out asking me if I can spare change, but I don't have a problem saying no(it's true) and continuing on my way. It would bother me more if someone was rude and aggressive especially if I had my kids with me.

roosmom 9 years, 2 months ago

It will just get worse with state cuts to programs that treat mental health and substance abuse. They loose beds in treatment facilities and take to the streets. More will come. There won't be room for them in the jail and I think the law enforement would rather house a violent offender or felon versus a homeless person. I don't blame them for that. Don't you see they are just getting pushed form one social program/agency/social service to the next? First it's the VA that won't help some, then the mental health centers don't because of funding cuts dating back years, also substance TX programs, now it's law enforcement. The buck is getting passed. It is much bigger than putting a law into place. It cannot be solved in Lawrence alone. If you think it can you are not looking at the big picture.

roosmom 9 years, 2 months ago

logicsound.... you live up to your name!

John Hamm 9 years, 2 months ago

Foodboy it's a little late to start worrying about "limitations to the freedom of speech." That was lost years ago.

Kryptenx 9 years, 2 months ago

For the amount of comments in the name of civil liberties, I'm puzzled as to why nobody has suggested that one has a right to free speech as long as it does not encroach on others' rights. Free speech is not an absolute right. I understand both sides of the argument, and aggressive panhandling is a problem downtown, but a new law is not the solution. We need to demand that the city enforces its current laws before wasting time and money creating new, unenforceable statutes. It is the right of every person whether down on their luck or just a flat out bum, to ask for a handout politely, just as charities have the right to pester us for donations. What shouldn't be allowed, is repeated and aggressive begging, which SHOULD already be covered by the law, but is not. A few *sshole downtown bums is reason to enforce our current laws, not squelch legitimate free speech.

thestinger66 9 years, 2 months ago

Here's one for ya:"I'm from Madison, Wisconsin trying to get to Austin, TX. My car broke down and I'm trying to get money so I can make it there. Got any money?"I've been stopped by this jackass numerous times. If he likes doing this, he should get a real sales job where he is required to cold call on a daily basis. He'd have a lot more money than what he's probably getting by harrassing the citizens of Lawrence. I think it should be banned, period. These people are a nuisance, and I shouldn't have to listen to their b.s. pitches as I'm walking from place to place downtown.

Danimal 9 years, 2 months ago

I say give every Lawrence resident a walnut club for beating the vagrants with. Of course, there will have to be some restraint. We don't want to beat up the genuinely disabled homeless, but the young able-bodied ones (the ones that ask you for money 90% of the time) should be fair game.

pablo 9 years, 2 months ago

This is unbelievable. I hear a lot of people saying it's "annoying". Is it so hard to just say "NO THANK YOU"? Seriously! You all need to grow a pair and stop crying because there are people talking to you on the street. OH NO! GET AWAY FROM ME! STOP TALKING TO ME! Who cares?! They are people, the majority who are kind and understanding.

deskboy04 9 years, 2 months ago

So how are the auto execs. not panhandlers?

yankeevet 9 years, 2 months ago

When they ask you; Hey buddy can u spare a dollar; just say sure; do you have change for a fifty???

Hate_KS 9 years, 2 months ago

WOW. All of this conversation is great! To bad it is about a non-issue. WTF is wrong with KS?

Joe Hyde 9 years, 2 months ago

Downtown panhandling is indeed a problem, but one that perhaps lends itself to an Integrated Pest Management solution.In structures plagued by insects, rodents, etc. if you do things like alter your housekeeping practices, make physical changes to the building to deny entry, and daily eliminate food and liquids you leave lying about, the pests will quickly find another place to live, or else they will expire.Nobody wants to kill panhandlers, so...Move their primary source of food and material support (Salvation Army office, etc.) away from downtown to a new location more on the periphery of the city limits. Someplace like the "Bridge to Nowhere" would work nicely. Or a bit farther north even, at 31st & Hell; that would be good, too: Indeed, at 31st & Hell despite the presence of clustered big-box corporate chain stores, all of those huge, open parking lots would deny panhandlers the harbor areas needed for rapid escape into cover when the police show up?Somewhere out in Extremely New Really Far West Lawrence would also be an excellent choice for the Salvation Army's new location. 6th & Wakarusa Dr. is perfect, actually.Point being: the big-box corporate chain stores and chain restaurants can financially absorb any losses in Lawrence caused by panhandler-induced customer dropoffs. Absorb those losses much more easily than can our shops downtown (most of which are small businesses owned by local residents).

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 2 months ago

That violates free speech. You don't put people in jail for uttering almost anything in this country. A threat yes, but not asking for money. Ridiculous. I'm pretty conservative on most things, but I side with the homeless people, aka panhandlers, on this. Once again the Lawrence Commissioners are trying to micromanage people's lives. Remember when they were going to tell you that you could not use your cell phone in your car? Remember when they made exceptions and the whole thing fell apart? They do not learn from their past mistakes. Someone asking me for a dollar won't stop me from shopping in downtown Lawrence. I know how to say no. The problem, it would seem, is the wimps that can't say no to them so they run and whine, behind their backs, to the Commission. Grow up you people. Remember DARE, just say NO. Problem solved. If everyone turned them down they would go somewhere else, but they don't bother me. Thank you, Lynn

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 2 months ago

They have just as much of a right to hang out down there as anyone. And i'm glad they do. Hopefully, it will keep the yuppies off of Mass St.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 2 months ago

Rather than fighting the free speech issue, you panhandler lovers can just post your addresses with the City so these poor, misguided, misunderdstood folks can be directed to your houses for Christmas dinner. Oh oh! I said the "C" word!

gogoplata 9 years, 2 months ago

Just tell them no if you don't like it. Does there really need to be laws on the books against panhandling?Some suggestions.No.I don't have any money.Do you have some money for me?Get a jobI'll pay you to mow my lawn, rake my leaves, etcFeel free to add your own,

Escapee 9 years, 2 months ago

Answer seems obvious...the programs for handling persons that fall into this category in Lawrence are not working....Identify those that are alcoholics and drug users...put them in the tank. Upon release, if crime is committed, they go to jail. In jail, they sober up, learn a trade, or are not released except to a federal pen.Identify those that are mentally ill. Enroll them in programs designed to help their specific illness. Allow them use of shelters IF AND ONLY IF they are not hostile or pose a threat to the general public or themselves. Identify those that are 'down on their luck' or the working poor or temporarily disabled and unable to work. Give them support thru community programs and churches. ALL of the people, like it or not, should be acknowledged by the citizens of our communities -- across the country, and without exception. But left to be shuffled among the masses...things will not change.Lawrence's problem is horrible compared to other cities of the same size. It is no doubt BECAUSE the system is not working in a manner that does ANYTHING to CHANGE the situation.

rachaelisacancer 9 years, 2 months ago

So if I'm making a call on a payphone downtown and the machine eats my quarter, I could face up to six months in jail for asking someone to help me out so I can finish my call. This is D-u-m-b.

d_prowess 9 years, 2 months ago

cheeseburger, the situation you discribe is already covered by the laws on the books. Anyone doing what you explain can be arrested. The issue here is not creating a new law, it is enforcing the one already there. It seems there needs to be a follow-up story focusing on the enforcement issue because that appears to be the real problem!

rubberband 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't have a problem just saying no, but I have a real problem with panhandlers approaching my teenage daughter asking her for her spare change. I realize that some of the homeless that hang around downtown have mental issues, but many of them appear to be young and perfectly able-bodied, choosing to spend their time hanging around downtown bumming change and smokes rather than cleaning themselves up and looking for a job. These are the people asking for money, and she finds them very intimidating. Why would they think that she and her friends should share the money they earned working their part time fast food and grocery store jobs after school with them? I do consider this a safety issue.

gogoplata 9 years, 2 months ago

gogo -Do you honestly believe all the panhandlers take 'no' for an answer? No, they don't, and those are the ones that are most objectionable to people. If someone could just say 'no' and be done with it, that's one thing. But the continual harrassment that commonly follows a negative response is what concerns and scares some people. It is not within a person's rights to harrass and intentionally intimidate another.I see the problem. Could you deal with the the problems on an individual basis?

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 2 months ago

So we would rather pay to put people up in prison than have them asking for change on the street? Seems to me like it would be more expensive in the long run to put them in prison. And what are they going to do, panhandle for that $1000 fine? Sounds like a good way to waste money if you ask me.

Robert Marble 9 years, 2 months ago

regardless of how the city chooses to penalize them, the bums need to be gotten rid of. nobody has yet provided any logical reason they should be allowed to continue harassing people and interfering with businesses- so far it's only been emotional drivel.

Danimal 9 years, 2 months ago

Redwood, we could always just euthanize them again.It's a pain in the a** having all these bums loiter around downtown and all of you that are telling people to "just deal with it" must be from a large city. Fact of the matter is that these homeless people have no business being here, virtually none of them are from Lawrence, and most aren't even form Kansas. It's not our responsibility to care for their well being, especially those that are perfectly capable of working and simply refuse to. I think that the laws as they currently stand need to be amended to curb aggressive panhandling, but that this new law goes too far. Mostly, Lawrence's city leaders need to have the constitution to eliminate the sources that draw these individuals into our community as many have cited. I know there are a lot of bleeding hearts in this town, but this isn't something that we want here. I'm all for helping any of them that are actual Lawrence residents, but the rest need to keep moving on down the road.

Puff_Dragon 9 years, 2 months ago

So now where do I go to get a great challenge in 'chess'.?The word in Leavenworth and Lansing is go to Lawrence.I was always innocnt.

Escapee 9 years, 2 months ago

Well, Wacky Waka, you're right. We are all humans, children of God, regardless of our peculiarities. But there must be some answers here to change the situation. It's not something to laugh about and make fun of -- in these times...many of you may well get a chance to 'walk in their shoes' as Waka puts it.It's time to hold criminals accountable, and to help those truly in need. There are many who do need an occasional 'hand out' to get by -- but no one should have to beg on the street... especially in a town the size of Lawrence which should be able to take care of its own....

Robert Marble 9 years, 2 months ago

you bleeding heart types have selective keep blaming these peoples "plight" on the tough economic times. Guess what? the dirtbags are out there panhandling during good economic times as well. Put simply, the vast majority of these people are just lazy, drug and / or alcohol addicted derelects who refuse to work for a living. Sure, there are many who have truely fallen on hard luck and could use some help. Those few who are truely in that predicament should be helped. But those who put themselves in that position by their own incompetence should not be enabled.

alm77 9 years, 2 months ago

Escapee, those who are down on their luck have plenty of programs. The problem is a) the genuine freeloader and b) the genuinely crazy. You can't force either of those types to do anything. Freeloader won't work and crazies won't stay on their meds (not for long anyway). THAT's the problem. I've served at the "wet shelter" and I've done that because of the reason you've stated. Humans are worth something and shouldn't be left to freeze or starve to death. Having said that, I'm fine with a "don't verbally ask" law, but if you want to sit with your guitar case open and be a street performer, then at least you're contributing to society in some manner. I'm okay with that and I think most people are.

OwlHead 9 years, 2 months ago

This is not about the welfare of the citizens who go downtown.Sounds like a bunch of G DA*N BullST.

alm77 9 years, 2 months ago

" virtually none of them are from Lawrence, and most aren't even form Kansas" I'd be willing to say you could say that about most people who are not homeless. Which reminds me, my husband says I shouldn't identify people as "homeless" for a couple of reasons. First, because you don't know that they don't have a home and secondly because what does that make me? "Homed"?? "Homeful"?

greenworld 9 years, 2 months ago

These people need to go get a f-ing job for starters. These are the same people that say they need money to get to some other state and I see the the same ones in Lawrence not leaving year after year. Also I saw a story on Tv about alot of them that they make alot of money in a year begging for it. There are one's in Vegas that were pulling anywhere between 30-60k in a year. That is to just to get somebody to feel sorry enough for them to give them money. Remember ask and you shall receive most the time. Most the one's Im seeing alot of are the younger generation (the lazy one's) as I call them. Mommy and Daddy didnt teach them anything and what they have found out is they dont have to go get a job like the rest of us and can sit around on their lazy a!!. Dont feel sorry for any of them and get rid of them all. The city needs to take care of the homeless people as it is and all the potholes around town but definately get rid of them.

persevering_gal 9 years, 2 months ago

Lets see, put a homeless person into jail where it's nice and warm, get free food, watch television, etc. Way to lay down the law Lawrence!

Robert Marble 9 years, 2 months ago

hahaha....speaking of bleeding hearts, now the wacko's are coming out of the woodwork, trying to couch vagrancy and harassment in 1st Amendment issues. What a joke. These same nutjobs not only have selective memories but also selective appreciation of civil rights as well. Those type will rant and rave about 1st Amendment issues but they're usually the first to support suppression of 2nd Amendment rights. Try somewhere else folks, you people are obviously off your rockers.

measles 9 years, 2 months ago

"In November, city commissioners directed staff members to come up with a new panhandling ordinance after hearing multiple complaints from downtown shop owners who said customers were becoming intimidated by the number of panhandlers downtown."If unemployment is up and consumption are down due to the current economic situation, wouldn't you expect a simultaneous rise in panhandling and drop in shopping? Put aside the fact that asking for change should be protected free speech, while harassment and physical intimidation should be illegal no matter what one is asking for; let's ask ourselves if this is really a cause-and-effect situation or if it's just the economy, stupid.

Doug Fisher 9 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence, you just keep getting more and more pathetic everyday. It's no wonder the city was voted in the Top 10 meanest towards the homeless just a few years ago. So much for being a "progressive" or "liberal" community. This is one of the reasons I moved away. In these hard times is it really a suprise to find more people that are in dire economic conditions? It's only going to get worse so cracking down isn't really going to solve anything. While I understand that there are those who will always choose to be homeless there are also alot of innocent people who are losing everything they have right now.

missmagoo 9 years, 2 months ago

bizarre- they have a 'bum bum shop'. it's called the salvation army and it's at what, 10th and vermont?

RickyDub 9 years, 2 months ago

It has gotten pretty bad downtown with the panhandling and it has effected my decision on where I want to shop, eat and spend my hard earned money.

devieh 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't have a problem with them on the streets. It's when they come into my business and bother my guests. I don't care what they do outside. Inside it's always the same. "stand up and walk to the door, right now. I am calling the police. please walk to the door now.". Chuck is the worst. He doesn't get the meaning of trespassing. And he is so old and scraggly. Then you have the angry bike guy. Who yells @ women. And is very violent.

onceinawhile 9 years, 2 months ago

There's a really incredible story on the Kansan's website about the homeless in Lawrence. It's an interesting read...

VTHawk 9 years, 2 months ago

Downtown Lawrence should unite, buy the public property (privatize the roads, sidewalks, etc), and then regulate who can and cannot be downtown. Then the city doesn't need to violate anybody's free speech rights, and Downtown Lawrence gets to be a nice family-oriented place again.Albany, NY banned any speech that was audible at more than 6-feet so that they could keep religious-types from downtown. Seriously, 6-feet??? I hate being asked for money as much as anyone else, and will never EVER give money to a beggar. Nevertheless, this going after speech seems a little risky IMHO.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 2 months ago

Downtown merchants have a much bigger problem. It's called an over loaded retail market which is unfriendly to business. This cuts into the bottom line aka profit margins in a huge way.Retailers need to speak out against such nonsense. And ask the city to alter the parking design in the 700 and 800 blocks of New Hampshire and Vermont....make it like Mass street for more parking.Meanwhile there are laws on the books dealing with a rowdy public. Can this new law stand up to a court ruling? The Tanger Mall is looking better each day. Plenty of space for meals, training,rehabilitation,over night stays,church and keep some busy on the landscape. GW Bush is moving to Dallas so maybe his Crawford ranch will be available as a year round hangout.

BigPrune 9 years, 2 months ago

Why make this apply to the downtown only? Just this past year, the City of Lawrence has a street person festival, where street people performers from all over the country converged downtown and now they complain about the panhandlers downtown? We invited some of these people didn't we? Make this law apply to all over town because if it doesn't cover the entire city, the panhandlers will move their business to other areas of town, mainly intersections in other shopping areas.Week # 1I ran out of gas. My fuel gauge is broken. I wouldn't be carrying around a gas can if I wasn't telling you the truth. I am in town because my wife needed to see the doctor. The bill was very high and now I don't have enough money to get her back home and my van is bone dry. I pray to the Lord you can help me out.Week #2, Same guy, same story. Location: 6th & Kasold Make it apply everywhere.

alm77 9 years, 2 months ago

MacHeath, I stated earlier, those who are down on their luck have programs. The others are either lazy or crazy and you can't make either do anything (i.e. get a job or take their meds) I'm all for feeding them and making sure they can stay at a shelter, but I don't give them $$ on the street anymore.

madameX 9 years, 2 months ago

Okay, Journal-World, the meeting was yesterday, where's the story about the outcome?

yankeevet 9 years, 2 months ago

Hey buddy can you spare a buck? Sure; Mister Panhandler; do u have change for a fifity??

gladiatr 9 years, 2 months ago

Civil liberties are certainly an important consideration, but I'm interested in how such a law would be enforced. Would the LPD troll the downtown sidewalks constantly?Frankly, most of the transient folks I've met or become accustomed to seeing downtown aren't belligerent or annoying. Many of them are friendly and have fascinating stories. There might be a point where they ask if I have any change. After explaining that I don't, the conversation often continues where it left off. In those cases where I choose to engage someone, I also choose when to disengage. I bid them good-bye and wish them luck and keep going.There is one guy who I've had trouble with in the last several months, but he is one individual out of many. Frankly, I have had more difficulty with duly employed drunks (that apparently have an establishment to call home) aggressively approaching or lunging towards me when I'm out walking my dog in the later hours of the evening. What can you do about them? Also consider, for the price of a very, very cheap cup of coffee a day (nod: Sally Struthers) or a set of the proverbial male gonads (Sorry, I don't have anything for you), you can avoid our community having to pay legal and incarceration fees for the enforcement of such a policy. The inevitable expense of defending such a policy in state and federal court also needs to be considered. I'm sure there is an attorney working for the city that would (professionally) love the opportunity to argue this case, but we're going to end up footing the bill. Isn't there a crack in Kasold Drive (or something) that could be repaired with that money?Anyway: Sorry, I don't have anything else for you. See you later, and good luck!

maudeandcecil 9 years, 2 months ago

It is exceedingly annoying to me that the City staff members working on this ordinance proposed that a panhandling ordinance with guidelines permitting "up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine" for panhandling is reasonable. It's cruel and misguided and inhuman. It is very troubling that the City Commission is moving forward with this. Frankly, as a person who lives very near downtown and who spends a significant amount of time walking with my small children downtown, I've never thought that panhandling was much of an issue. I've certainly never felt threatened or avoided entering a store because of a panhandler. It's not as if they're swarming the sidewalks. What are we talking about here- two or three panhandlers at any one given time? I've not seen any empirical evidence supporting a significant increase in panhandling numbers over the past decade that might (perhaps) warrant formulating some type of regulation. Does it exist? Does anyone know? It seems as though the City moved forward on an ordinance without thoroughly study the issue. If there is not a comprehensive understanding of the problem, how can you formulate a "best practice" approach to solving the issue? Perhaps I am missing a piece of the puzzle or perhaps I do not fully understand the City's procedures. Would someone, with knowledge in this area- please enlighten me?Thanks.

Erin Adams 9 years, 2 months ago

I just pretend to be on my phone and they normally dont bother me. However, when there is someone that wont leave me alone, sometimes I ask them for change or a ciggarette before they get me! that always stops them

beawolf 9 years, 2 months ago

I've lived in Lawrence for 3 years. Been on Mass st. a 1,000 times. Never was approached by a panhandler.BTW 6 months of free room & board is not going to be a deterrent. As someone else mentioned, 6 months of community service would benefit the city as well as the individual.

roosmom 9 years, 2 months ago

Like I said before, services have been cut, it will get worse. There are limited beds, limited services, but some of you want to put "this" program into place and "that" program in to place. Where will the money come from? How many of you who say "get a job" are willing to hire someone who lives on the street, hasn't changed clothes in weeks or bathed, so on and so forth. Do you want to invest in the homeless. That is what an employer does, makes an investment in someone hoping their work will pay off. I would reason from the negative and inhumane comments some of you would not. I would venture a guess that the homeless people who become agressive/loud/pushy are the ones with mental health issues and substance abuse issues. Putting them in jail won't work, putting them to work also won't work. It is more than taking a bath, having shelter and a job. These are bandaids to a very large issue that has been a part of human nature for a very, very long time.

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