South Bend bans panhandling?

posted by Mike on August 15th, 2006

Tribune:

The Common Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning solicitation directly in traffic on Monday. The ordinance prohibits those collecting donations, distributing literature, or selling or offering items, from stepping into traffic to solicit motorists. This includes standing on a sidewalk and reaching into traffic in any way.

The discussion seems to have been entirely about people fundraising at intersections, but the last sentence indicates that this would ban panhandling, too. You could stand on the sidewalk and hold your sign, but if a motorist offered you money, you could not reach “into traffic” and take it.

It strikes me that a ban like this has much more impact in a city like South Bend than in Worcester. Worcester has several urban areas with lots of foot traffic, so if you want to pass out fliers or solicit donations, you don’t have to rely on motorists. South Bend, on the other hand, is just a big suburb, with a low population density and few areas with lots of walkers. Motorists are the only game in town.

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