Politics & Government

Council to have first reading on panhandling ordinance

Columbus Council is set to have a first reading today on a new panhandling ordinance that would restrict where, when and how people can approach you for money.

The proposed ordinance defines panhandling as, “any solicitation made in person upon any street, public place or park in the city, in which a person requests an immediate donation of money or other gratuity from another person.”

It specifically mentions offering to sing or to make some other street performance for money or seeking donations for items of little or no value.

But the ordinance allows singing or other performances with passive signs soliciting donations.

It outlaws panhandling between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. during Daylight Savings Time and between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. during Standard Time.

The ordinance also prohibits panhandling at bus stops or on public transportation, in an outdoor cafe, or within 20 feet of an ATM or bank entrance.

It will also outlaw “aggressive” panhandling, which involves touching, walking with or blocking a person’s path; approaching a person who is in line waiting to get into a building or vehicle; using “profane or abusive” language or “making any statement, gesture, or other communication which would cause a reasonable person to be fearful or feel compelled.

It also prohibits panhandling in groups of two or more people.

Council meets today at 5:30 p.m. in its Government Center Plaza Level chambers. A proposed ordinance must have two public readings before the council before it can be voted on.