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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local August 01, 2014


4/10/2013 10:00:00 PM
Prescott ordinance changes aim to quell aggressive panhandling
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT -  In an effort to "get a handle" on a panhandling scene that officials say is becoming offensive to residents and visitors, the Prescott City Council approved a number of changes this week to its aggressive solicitation restrictions.

City Attorney Jon Paladini said Tuesday that the legal department had reviewed the existing code after hearing requests from the City Council and concerns from the public.

Councilmen Charlie Arnold and Chris Kuknyo both brought up examples of concern.

Arnold said he had walked around the downtown on a recent evening and had been solicited three times.

And Kuknyo told of an instance in which a homeless man had become abusive over an encounter involving his dog.

"Insults, abusive language...these are the things that are happening on our square," Kuknyo said. "No one cares if someone says, 'can you spare a dime?' but it's getting too organized and disrespectful when you say 'no,' or when you ask a person to move on from in front of your business or place of work."

The councilmen worried that the prevalence of aggressive panhandling could discourage tourism.

"You read the travel blogs, and this is something that comes up," Arnold said.

Added Kuknyo: "I don't think it's out of control, but I think if we don't get a handle on it, it will be."

The new language more specifically defines what constitutes aggressive panhandling. For instance, it clarifies that it is illegal to solicit money or things of value:

• In an aggressive manner in a public area.

• Within 15 feet of an entrance or exit of a bank or ATM.

• Immediately adjacent to the entrance of a business in a manner interfering with ingress and egress to the business.

• On a public sidewalk, street or other public grounds in a manner that impedes or obstructs the free flow of pedestrian traffic during a special event or parade.

Of the proposed changes, Police Chief Jerald Monahan told the council: "It does appear to give your police department a pretty significant tool to use to address aggressive panhandling."

He added that the police department plans to approach the enforcement of the adjusted ordinance "with balance - understanding the sensitivity to those individuals in our community."

While the ordinance change got council approval, the support was not unanimous. Councilman Jim Lamerson voted against the changes, after cautioning against "profiling" panhandlers as those who are homeless.

Homeless advocate Daniel Mattson agreed, noting that some of the aggressive panhandlers are not homeless, but rather "are after alcohol." Others, he added, are trying to raise money for gasoline for the vehicles in which they live.

Paladini responded that the proposed changes target specific behavior rather than classes of people.

Retired Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Ralph Hess brought up a number of legal issues with the ordinance change. Hess, who previously worked as an assistant city attorney, questioned the constitutionality of the proposed wording that included "or other business" in the prohibition of soliciting within 15 feet of an entrance or exit of a bank or financial institution.

Hess maintained that a "government interest" must exist in order for the city to restrain free speech. "What is the significant government interest?" he asked.

The council ultimately agreed to remove the wording pertaining to "other business" from the portion of the code that prohibits soliciting within 15 feet of the entrance of a bank or financial institution.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Article comment by: Tripping The Light Fantastic

It appears that the people that are offended by the term "profiling" are the freeloaders/addicts/panhandlers/beggars/bums. If you are offended by being profiled, change your lifestyle, that simple.

Why would you want to live in a town filled with productive retired people that are accountable and took responsbility for themselves and are now trying to enjoy retirement? So, you can live off their backs? Think not! Get out of town freeloaders/rehabbers.

Welcome to the world of a generation or two of permissiveness and meism. The drug culture basically. They do not have to be accountable or responsible for anything, including their rehab.

They are so ready to settle for the non-productive lifestyle, the free food/shelter/handouts rather than be responsible for themselves. Profiling? You bet! Let's get a dose of reality and call a spade a spade.

@Tom Von Deck - There is a hazy smoke surrounding you and probably why the thinking and sight is foggy and may be the reason you don't get panhandled.


Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: T J

@ Aggravated Prescott Local
You stated you are a veteran of the Afghanistan/Iraq war, and the VA won’t help and also 100% permanent totally disabled. If you are really 100% disabled what are you doing with the $2,816 you receive from the VA as a disabled veteran?


Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: Old Dirt

What bugs me more than the beggars, this is what they are, is they have 1-3 dogs with them.
What those animals have to go through, standing on hot pavement, no water and the dogs look scared.


Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

I find it strange that I rarely see any panhandlers asking people for money when I go downtown. Sometimes I see buskers and I'm very glad.

Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: Byte Me

Mr. Hess, the government interest is that we the people are tired of being harassed when we are going about our own business. Government's interest is to serve the electorate, listen to the people and you will be told what we, and therefore you, are interested in. Also, has anyone checks to see who in the mayor's office, or on the city council has a financial interest in the rehab game? With elections coming up it could be worth checking into.

Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: Common Senzi

Homeless...

You lost my sympathy when you started leaving piles of junk in the woods.

There is pretty much no enforcement when it comes to long term squatting. Thats why you have a homeless problem.


Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: reality hits you hard bro

All this talk of the poor and panhandling forced me to make this reply.twice within a two week period i was approached by two different people and ask for five dollars for gas. The AMPM was the first, it was a young woman and her boyfriend who seemed stressed out because her mom was bad sick and theyhad to see her. I gladly handed over the fiver, while fueling my truck they thanked me and were laughing as they drove off. That struck me as odd, so i went and looked at the pump and they only put two dollars in their tank. stupid me eh? Less than two weeks later at the Circle K at Gurley and Sheldon a man approached me and he had a red plastic gas can withhim and he ask me for gas money for his car< ireplied that he could come to my truck and i would put some of my gas in his gas can. What a mistake that was, i soon found out how stupid i was when he called me every name in the book after i insisted i would give him fuel. He then stated he had no car but this was his way of panhandling. Sorry, never again never a dime, with a gascan or a sign.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Coyote Contraire™

What Panhandlers?

Tom Babbitt,
You got that one right. Not only do we fill its clutching palms with our hard-won alms, but we have to cut the city's weeds on the city's right-of-way -- or get fined.
. . . . . .
I avoid the plaza because I disdain the sights of fat thighs, flip-flops and chotchkie shops, so I'm immune to the rest of its awfulness. But I go to Albertson's frequently and have NEVER been hit up by a druggie or down-and-outer. Don't think I look that poor, so it must be that I'm that scary. Could be the pointy ears and squinty suspicious eyes, I s'pose. Don't give a whit that they hang there.

^-,,-^



Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Get A Job Or Get A Grip On Reality

To @ Aggravated Prescott Local and Prescott Local II...

I don't believe one word of what you say...Stop it, the poor me syndrome is not working! There are so many avenues/programs/free help in this town! Do not shuck us! We are not that stupid.

Do not approach me for a money handout...you will get refused. Get out of this town...go somewhere that is willing to fall prey to your phoney plight!

If you don't have gas money, nor a job...you obviously do not have money for insurance nor ownership of a vehicle...Do a taxi...it is cheaper.

Limit your trips ifi you and your wife are having problems, call people who care for rides. That is what one must do to survive when you are in you position.

Do not pull the "vet" card. That is not working any more. We all have problems..some get help, some do not...Stop the whining. You volunteered for service. Compare yourself to longterm police officers who put their life on the line everyday.

Suggestions: If the money spend on "animal rights", clothes for animals, vet bills, food for pets, etc., were spent on you...do you need to hear more? Get the drift? Welcome to the real world in the USA!


Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Get A Job Or Get A Grip On Reality

To @ Aggravated Prescott Local and Prescott Local II...

I don't believe one word of what you say...Stop it, the poor me syndrome is not working! There are so many avenues/programs/free help in this town! Do not shuck us! We are not that stupid.

Do not approach me for a money handout...you will get refused. Get out of this town...go somewhere that is willing to fall prey to your phoney plight!

If you don't have gas money, nor a job...you obviously do not have money for insurance nor ownership of a vehicle...Do a taxi...it is cheaper.

Limit your trips ifi you and your wife are having problems, call people who care for rides. That is what one must do to survive when you are in you position.

Do not pull the "vet" card. That is not working any more. We all have problems..some get help, some do not...Stop the whining. You volunteered for service. Compare yourself to longterm police officers who put their life on the line everyday.

Suggestions: If the money spend on "animal rights", clothes for animals, vet bills, food for pets, etc., were spent on you...do you need to hear more? Get the drift? Welcome to the real world in the USA!


Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: John Citizen

I think it disgusting that the young youths of Prescott are asking people for money when they are well capable of doing odd jobs or working. I see them with their cell phones and cigarettes.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

When the municipality of Prescott cares more about its tax revenue than about its citizens it becomes the panhandler.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Drunken Bums!

I saw two men walking downtown towards Whiskey Row. They did not know I heard them talk about their drinking plans for the evening. They asked me for money. I said I didn't have any and was going to ask them for money for food. They laughed at me and went into a bar.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Aggravated Precott Local II

@Ronald Reagan I have internet access at a friends house, thank you very much! I have tried numerous places in this town to find help.. I hate to say it, but this town doesn't like to help anyone, which is truly a shame. There are numerous veterans that I know personally whom fly a sign to make a little money to survive off of because our government sucks and doesn't want to help us out nor do these so called churches or charities.. They all label us "HOMELESS DRUNKS,DRUGGIES" Not all of us are... I just wished you hypocritical individuals would quit labeling and profiling us with the "Rehabbers" because we are nothing like them. That's all I wanted to say, once again.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

@No Way: One more thing. If I remember correctly and if this guy was truthful, it happened right around the time just before Council held that meeting about "the homeless problem" in 2010. It might have been Spring. time. It was during a city and county police campaign against sleeping outdoors and against folks who couldn't afford apartments. Again, he never seemed like the chronic lying type.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

@No Way: How do you know it never happened. This guy was a pretty sober guy. He was rather upset after getting out of jail. He was temporarily homeless at the time and ended up in an apartment after that. He testified at city council about how people were being treated in 2010 during the raids on camps. I'd say he's a pretty believable guy, and I'll take his word for it. Also, please explain how I'm a "negative influence on this community." That one requires an explanation.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Ronald Reagan

To Aggravated Prescott Local

How if your so destitute do you have internet services?


Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Stop paying them

There are plenty of agencies willing to help truly destitute people with food and resources. There are meals every day, somewhere in town. No one who wants to eat will starve. Support the agencies who are trying to help them and stop giving them cash for drugs and alcohol. Stop giving money to the panhandlers. If it's not profitable, they will stop doing it.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Aggravated Prescott Local

Gee, I just like seeing some of these comments... If you would open your eyes and pay attention, you would notice that not all people who fly a sign (Panhandle) are bums, drunks or druggies... Me, myself have flown a sign, because I needed gas in my vehicle.. Not once did I ask for anything directly, nor did I go up to someone and ask for money.. Me nor my fiancé are homeless, drunks nor winos.. We are on a very tight budget, and I am a veteran of the Afghanistan/Iraq war, and the VA wont help, nor will any of the so-called churches nor Salvation Army.. They don't help with gas for vehicles... I would work, but I am 100% permanent total disabled.. As noted in the article, There are some of the people who are flying signs to get gas for their vehicles, so they don't get towed!!! I see what most of this town is loaded with, HYPOCRITS and PROFILERS!! Those are the kind of people whom get under my skin real quick and I cant stand them!! So think and open your eyes before you judge and profile the next person whom you see flying a sign... That's all I wanted to say

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Dennis O'brien

Between the many rehabs, the bums and drug dealers at the square, you can have Prescott altogether. Certainly NOT everybody's hometown. Even if I were born there, I wouldn't admit to it.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Darnell Hoffman

Foolish people will give away their rights, their dignity and their community to those who act aggressively and uncivilized. The fools will give it all away in the name of "compassion" and not wanting to seem "unfriendly". Darn the fools, they always manage to mess things up for the rest of us.

Last but not least, they make things worse for the people they supposedly want to help. It's the liberal way: pretend you want to help by putting yourself up on a petty little pedestal by condemning those who would speak out about vagrancy and other destructive behavior. In this process, those who live on the street will never get the help they need because caring liberals oppose real measures that would lead them to a better life.


Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Slam The Book Shut

Next time a pan handler comes up to you, blow him away by saying hey buddey can I have 5 bucks! You can't belive the look your get.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Irving . . .

What a hoot you are! So the rehabbers are only from the midwest, huh? I wish. They're from all over, from CA. to NY.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: I wish

I could afford to feed every needy person I see. But I can't. I pay taxes, I work my butt off working 12 hour shifts on my feet. For more than 40 hrs per week. My husband too. We donate to various charities throughout the year. We make it a point to "give a little back". It isn't MY responsibility to donate again and again to people downtown every time I am there. Especially, yes, when you can smell the alcohol from 5 feet away.

So, when we finally get a day off and take our kids for ice cream downtown, yeah, we find it a little offensive when they ask us for money. We are polite. Brought the kids up to be respectful to people too. On no less than 4 out of 7 occasions that we have been to the square (one of them at the Acker event) we have been approached by presumably homeless men. At the Acker event, my 9 year old told the man, "I am sorry, I don't have any". The guy called my son an "f-ing punk". To a 9 year old little boy!! I had to hold my husband back. Heck, I almost tackled the guy myself.

We don't even go downtown anymore. I am done with it. I am sick of trying to "keep the dollars in Prescott" when I have to worry about dodging panhandlers in the square.


Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: No Way

This is to Tom Von Deck: Your story is a joke and that never happened. Please go to the police station with the time and date it supposedly happened and get the report number. Then post it. I bet you won't because it never happened. Stop with your fairy tales about the police overreacting. People like you are a very negative influence on this entire community!


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