May 22, 2013
Pensacola Ordinance 20-13: Prohibiting Begging, Panhandling

Ordinance No. 20-13



SECTION 1. Section 8-1-25 of the Code of the City of Pensacola, Florida is hereby created to read:

Sec. 8-1-25, Panhandling.

(1)    Legislative Findings:

The City Council of the City of Pensacola, Florida, hereby makes the following findings:

a.       Aggressive soliciting, begging or panhandling warrants justifiable alarm or immediate concerns for the safety of persons or property and can cause apprehensions and fear in the intended target of the soliciting, begging or panhandling.

b.      Soliciting, begging or panhandling on the public roadways or rights-of-way creates a safety hazard for both pedestrians and those traveling upon the roadways and rights-of-way, and poses a disruption to the free flow of traffic.

c.       The City of Pensacola has a significant interest in protecting the health, safety and welfare of those peacefully moving about within the city.

d.      Studies have shown that soliciting, begging or panhandling has a negative impact on the attraction of businesses to the areas as well as the ability to retain existing businesses, and

e.      Studies have shown that soliciting, begging or panhandling causes a sense of fear and intimidation, particularly at night on roadways or in confined areas; and

f.        Studies have shown that soliciting, begging or panhandling contributes to the negative perception of those areas where it occurs, which discourages shoppers and visitors and contributes to the lack of enjoyment of public places within those areas.

[For the record, no “studies” were actually conducted, presented, or submitted. None]

(2)    Definitions

a.       Arterial roadway means a roadway providing service which is relatively continuous and of relatively high traffic volume, long trip length, and high operating speed. In addition, every United States numbered highway is an arterial road.

b.      Begging means, for purposes of this section only, the same as soliciting, below.

c.       Community outreach services means a public or private services provider that offers residential, rehabilitative, medical or social services assistance, including, but not limited to, mental health treatment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation or homeless assistance services for individuals in need thereof. One example of an entity that can help individuals access such services is First Call For Help.

d.      Community redevelopment areas means those areas of the City the City Council has found to be areas of slum and blight as set forth in F.S. 163.330 – 163.463. The City’s community redevelopment area is the Urban Core Community Redevelopment Area described in Ordinance No. 13-84, bounded by the west by “A” Street; on the north by Cervantes Street; on the east by 17th Avenue, the L&N Railroad trestle and the mouth of Bayou Texar; and on the south by Pensacola Bay. The City Council may establish additional community redevelopment areas pursuant to F.S. 163.330 – 163.463.

e.      Pandhandling means, for purposes of this section only, the same as soliciting, below.

f.        Soliciting means, for purposes of this section only, any request made in person on a street, sidewalk or public place, asking for an immediate donation of money or other thing of value, including the purchase of an item or service for an amount far exceeding its value, under circumstances where a reasonable person would understand that the purchase is a donation. Soliciting shall not include passively standing or sitting with a sign or other indication that one is seeking donations without addressing the request to any specific person.

(3)    Soliciting prohibited in certain areas or under certain circumstances.
It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit, beg or panhandle in the City limits of the City of Pensacola in the following areas or under the following circumstances:

a.       On any day after sunset, or before sunrise; or

b.      When either the panhandler or the person being solicited is located at any of the following locations:

1.       At a bus stop,

2.       In any public transportation vehicle,

3.       In any public transportation facility,

4.       In a vehicle which is parked or stopped on a public street or alley,

5.       In a sidewalk café,

6.       Within 20 feet from any ATM machine or entrance to a bank,

7.       Within 20 feet of a public toilet facility,

8.       From any operator of a motor vehicle that is in traffic on a public street; provided , however, that this prohibition shall not apply to services rendered in connection with emergency repairs requested by the owner or passengers of such vehicle; or

c.       In an aggressive manner, to include any of the following:

1.       Touching the solicited person without the person’s consent,

2.       Panhandling a person while such a person is standing in line and waiting to be admitted to a commercial establishment.

3.       Blocking the path of a person being solicited, or the entrance to any building or vehicle.

4.       Following behind, ahead or alongside a person who walks away from the panhandler after being solicited.

5.       Using profane or abusive language, either during the solicitation or following a refusal to make a donation, or making any statement, gesture, or other communication which would cause a reasonable person to be fearful or compelled.

6.       Panhandling in a group of two or more persons, or

d.      Within 500 feet of the intersection of two arterial roads in any Community Redevelopment Area (CRA).

(4)    Penalties.

Violation of this section shall be enforced by application of the penalties set forth in Sec. 1-1-8 of the Code of the City of Pensacola, Florida.

In addition, the officer issuing a citation under this article may elect to contact community outreach services, such as United Way’s First Call For Help, in order to determine whether a referral can be made or services offered to assist the individual cited. In the event the officer is unable to contact community outreach services at the time of the officer’s contact with the person accused of violating this section, the officer may supply the person with information sufficient for the person to make such contact at a later time.

SECTION 3. In any word, phrase, clause, paragraph, section or provision of this ordinance or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid or unconstitutional, such finding shall not affect the other provision or applications of the ordinance which can be given effect without the invalid or unconstitutional provisions or application, and to this end the provisions of this ordinance are declared severable.

SECTION 4. All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed to the extent of such conflict.

SECTION 5. This ordinance shall take effect on the fifth business day after adoption, unless otherwise provided pursuant to Section 4.03(d) of the City Charter of the City of Pensacola.