Boise takes another crack at panhandling ordinance

Boise - The Idaho StatesmanAugust 27, 2013 

A first violation of Boise's proposed pandhandling law would be an infraction, unless it were an case of "aggressive solicitation."

Aggressive solicitation and subsequent violations of the rest of the law within a year would be misdemeanors. 

That's the major change from Boise's originally proposed panhandling law, which would have made any violation a misdemeanor. It stems from a July 30 public hearing, during which nearly 50 people testified, mostly in opposition.

Boise's summary of the proposed law defines aggressive solicitation as "intentionally making any non-consensual physical contact with another person, following the person being solicited with intent to intimidate into giving, continuing to solicit within five feet of a person who has expressed a negative response to the solicitation with intent to intimidate into giving, obstructing the safe or free passage of the person being solicited or (making) any threatening statement or gesture intended to intimidate the person into giving."

If the proposal becomes law, asking people for money would also be illegal in the following circumstances

• in any public transportation vehicle

• from people waiting in line

• on private property where "solicitation prohibited" is posted

• from roads or from a vehicle on a road when entering the roadway is necessary to accept the donation

• from pedestrians crossing a road

• within public parking garages

• within 20 feet of an ATM, financial institution, sidewalk cafe, mobile or street vendor on a sidewalk, public restrooms and portable toilets, bus stops, taxi stands, valet stationsand parking pay boxes or stations (not including parking meters that serve one or two spaces)

However, the ordinance would allow people to stand or sit on a sidewalk and ask for money with a sign that doesn't address a specific person.

On Tuesday, the City Council heard a first reading of the ordinance. Second and third readings are scheduled for Sept. 10 and Sept. 17. If it passes, the law will take effect in January.

The city would use the time between the law's passage and its taking effect to train police and educate the public about it.

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