Philadelphia bars panhandling by 12-4 City Council vote FWD

Tom Boland (
Thu, 18 Jun 1998 22:47:26 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  Philadelphia Daily Bews - June 18 5:54 PM EDT


PHILADELPHIA, June 18 (UPI) - The Philadelphia City Council has voted to
ban so-called aggressive panhandling and sleeping on most streets, as well
as passing out leaflets and collecting for charity, which could spark court

The ``Public Places - Prohibited Conduct'' bill bars soliciting for money
within eight feet of any building, unless it is a bank or an ATM machine,
when the barrier extends to 20 feet. It also requires owners of properties
to keep sidewalks free of clutter, even decorative plants. And the homeless
would be forced to abandon their steam grates in winter.

The bill passed 12-4.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell was one no vote and said: ``It's a very, very
dangerous bill. It takes us back to times in the history of this country
that we would not like to remember.''

Because two councilmembers specifically asked to get their districts
included in the law, Blackwell managed to get her district excluded.

Mayer Ed Rendell has indicated he would sign the bill into law, which could
prompt a suit for an injunction from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Referring to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's ``quality of life
initiatives'' _ tightening regulations on taxis, street vendors and
pedestrians _ ACLU Executive Director Larry Frankel said, ``This is more
totalitarian than anything he's done.''

Frankel said as it stands, the bill would prohibit soliciting money for any
purpose and in any manner, passing out handbills, shaking the canisters for
the American Legion or even the Salvation Army Santas from setting up their
collection kettles.

According to Frankel, theoretically a businessman on his cell phone could
be collared if he asked the person on the other end of the line for money
of any amount, if he was within the proscribed zone.

Even politicians soliciting campaign funds could be at risk. And Frankel
said it could affect voting registration drives and street musicians.

City Council President John Street said amendments could be introduced in
the fall to correct faults in the bill.


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