Council To Look at Draft Ordinance on Aggressive Panhandling

Share:

Council has been asked to evaluate a draft ordinance which addresses issues such as solicitation near ATMs, prohibition of aggressive and obstructive conduct, unattended personal property in public places and rights of way, and blocking entranceways and paths of travel.

This draft ordinance comes a year after the council held a discussion on panhandling back in January 2017.  At that time, council expressed the preference of wanting to see greater regulations “dealing with problematic conduct and behaviors that would apply to all persons.”

This included prohibition of solicitation to vehicles in operation, as well as within a certain distance from a shop entrance, and regulations on personal belongings left in public spaces.

At the same time, council made it clear that they had no interest in passing a “sit/lie ordinance.”

Staff notes, “Homelessness and panhandling issues are often conflated, and while there are intersections, the two problems require different solutions.”  Staff clarifies that this ordinance only
addresses regulations on “problematic behaviors and conduct often associated with panhandling, regardless of the status of the individual engaging in the behaviors or conduct, and regardless of the content of the individual’s speech or expression.”

This proposed ordinance would do the following:

  • Prohibit aggressive conduct. State law already prohibits the aggressive soliciting of alms. This ordinance expands the prohibition of certain aggressive conduct that is not currently prohibited by state law.
  • Prohibit soliciting within 15 feet of an ATM or a door of a financial institution. The City’s current code prohibits solicitation within 50 feet of an ATM, however this distance is no longer defensible in court because it is not narrowly tailored to address specific safety concerns. Shortening the distance to 15 feet and including the entrance/egress points is narrowly tailored to address the public safety concern for individuals who may be carrying cash or deposits.
  • Prohibits blocking or disrupting vehicular, pedestrian or cycling traffic.
  • Prohibits certain activity in the median strip of a road.
  • Requires individuals to leave private property upon request of a police officer, the property owner or the property owner’s representative. This type of trespass is currently prohibited only by a civil injunction, not by state criminal trespass laws. This provision would allow for immediate relief from a persistent trespasser.
  • Does not allow individuals to block a sidewalk from general passage or an entrance to a building. Unlike a no sit/lie requirement, this condition requires only that the individual allow for the path of travel to be accessible.
  • Refers to existing code for the removal (and subsequent storage) of personal property left unattended on public property. City departments that deal with personal property (generally Police and Parks/Community Services) will have an internal administrative policy to provide additional details on how they remove, store and return property. Trash will continue to be dealt with in the current manner of disposal by City staff.

City staff reiterates that “the City cannot prohibit all forms of solicitation, especially passive solicitation. The City can, however, impose reasonable restrictions on aggressive, hazardous, and/or obstructive conduct while still respecting the constitutional rights of free speech and privacy for all citizens.”

In staff’s view, “The passage of this ordinance will provide additional tools for the City to address accessibility, safety and health issues throughout the community, and in the downtown in particular.”

They add, “[I]f this ordinance is passed offenders may be eligible for neighborhood court and other sentencing alternatives in lieu of paying fines.”

In addition to the proposed ordinance there are two other actions presently under way.

One is the formation of a Committee for a Clean and Safe Davis.  The Davis Chamber has taken the lead in forming this group with participation from various members, the city, Downtown Davis and Visit Yolo.

Staff notes, “This committee has heard members’ concerns about the behaviors addressed in this ordinance and the negative impacts to individuals’ personal experiences in Davis and negative impacts on local business. While newly established, the committee plans to provide the framework for collaboration on action-oriented steps to improving the cleanliness and safety in our community, especially in downtown.”

Second, there is an increased presence of the Davis Police Department as well as the city manager’s office in Downtown Davis.  The city is now utilizing the Hunt-Boyer mansion to provide support for various initiatives including, in the short term, that the facility will operate as a substation for officers and the homeless coordinator, and a bicycle officer will be stationed here.

In the long term, “this facility could also become home to a front counter and provide the community access to services currently offered only at the Police Department.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting



Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$
USD
Sign up for

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

26 thoughts on “Council To Look at Draft Ordinance on Aggressive Panhandling”

  1. Marina Khan

    what a stupid idea…

    I would recommend only that if someone is sitting on a corner for more than an hour, that they be asked to move along..

    It’s been a while since I was in downtown Davis, but I have never noticed any “aggressive panhandling”…

    Signs that someone is hungry is hardly aggressive.. all the poochies are very friendly…

    I would recommend that park down Mace, which was a replacement for the land grab of the toxic Woodbridge development, u can see my posts of 2016 for more on that… be turned into a FREE camp ground for the homeless and the likes of Yolo Food Bank could bring food there for the hungry…

    Davis is such a fake place, all of the overpaid idiots lack compassion and this is another example..

    In the early 70s the cops would give hitchhikers vouchers for motel rooms to spend the night and also meal vouchers to the cheap but decent places like Cafe Italia…(it was not there in 1970) but u might get the drift..

    The only thing the person or family had to agree, is that they would move along to some other town..

    What is wrong with that idea also?

     

    1. Howard P

      Trivia break… it was “Dave and Eddie’s” in the early 70’s… known for egg encrusted forks, cold plates, but otherwise semi-decent food… yeah, ate there a few times… first time I came to Davis, with my parents, to drop off my UCD application at the 11th and a half hour, Dad and I thought the meal was OK, Mom freaked out on the fork and dishes thing… Dad had gone thru the war in the Pacific for three years,  I worked at summer camps for three summers… guess it’s all what you’re used to, and how hungry you are… the latter observation is on topic, and for several other recent ones…

      If one expects to “get by”/survive, you have one standard… others expect “platinum”… most (vast majority?) are between those two.

      Just saying…

  2. Marina Khan

    this is the ONLY new and useful thing in the ordinance…

    “Prohibit soliciting within 15 feet of an ATM or a door of a financial institution. The City’s current code prohibits solicitation within 50 feet of an ATM, however this distance is no longer defensible in court because it is not narrowly tailored to address specific safety concerns. Shortening the distance to 15 feet and including the entrance/egress points is narrowly tailored to address the public safety concern for individuals who may be carrying cash or deposits.”

    all the rest is a waste of time and payments to the esteemed and overpaid city attorneys, as the other bits of fancy language are already covered by other laws in CA and the FEDs…

    even the smoking ban is 20 feet but does any smoker pay attention to that EITHER…

    Some signs would have been way better spent funds….than this YEAR long project..

    I mean REALLY?   ughgghgh

     

  3. John Hobbs

    Second, there is an increased presence of the Davis Police Department as well as the city manager’s office in Downtown Davis.  The city is now utilizing the Hunt-Boyer mansion to provide support for various initiatives including, in the short term, that the facility will operate as a substation for officers and the homeless coordinator, and a bicycle officer will be stationed here.

    In the long term, “this facility could also become home to a front counter and provide the community access to services currently offered only at the Police Department.”

    Will be interesting to see if this development improves or exacerbates the problem. I have seen police try to play social worker before and it was not a good experience for either the police officers or the population they served. Davis may have better results since it is a smaller community. Hope so.

  4. Tia Will

    Hi John

    I am genuinely interested in which community you observed adverse effects of a more hands on police approach and what the problems were from your point of view. Can you say more ?

    1. John Hobbs

      I am very familiar with the efforts of some SPD officers to help the homeless along the American River Parkway and the counter efforts by others. Overall the homeless population suffered more, because of these conflicts among the police and city administration trying to balance out homeless rights against the rights of neighboring businesses and residents. In the more than ten years since the Parkway’s homeless were targeted for assistance, nothing has changed in real terms for the folks forced to sleep rough except their trust in the police is even more strained.

  5. Ron

    From article:  “Second, there is an increased presence of the Davis Police Department as well as the city manager’s office in Downtown Davis.  The city is now utilizing the Hunt-Boyer mansion to provide support for various initiatives including, in the short term, that the facility will operate as a substation for officers and the homeless coordinator, and a bicycle officer will be stationed here.

    In the long term, “this facility could also become home to a front counter and provide the community access to services currently offered only at the Police Department.”

    Hmm.  I could have sworn that there was a building downtown (that the city actually/recently owned), which the city was “forced” to sell due to lack of “official” use.  (Thereafter receiving about 20% of the proceeds from the forced sale.)  In fact, the generic “city” name is on the front of the building, even now. I believe it also once housed the police department.

    Wonder how that 20% of proceeds received compares to the long-term cost of leasing an alternative site.

    1. Don Shor

      Not sure why you put “forced” in quotes. Those were the terms of the RDA dissolution resulting from the state’s audit of the Davis RDA. It was a requirement.

      1. Ron

        A “requirement” has a similar meaning to “forced” (if one would otherwise not take a given action).

        And again, I understand that the “requirement” would not have been a factor, had the city used the building for its own purposes.  (Assuming that the lease to a private business could have been dealt with.)

        1. Ron

          Normally, when one says that the “answer is in here”, they cite the relevant section, and at least attempt to define what they’re “answering”.

          Oh, well.  Water under the bridge.

          1. Don Shor

            Save the link. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to discuss it again. The topic of this thread is a panhandling ordinance, not disposition of the RDA assets.

      1. Ron

        Thanks for the clarification, regarding Hunt-Boyer.  I’ll assume that different circumstances allow the city to lease sites within that building to private businesses.

        Of course, the next question that comes to mind is, how much is the city losing, by not renting the space (that they plan to occupy) at Hunt-Boyer to a private business?  (Which would presumably be available, if the city were to occupy the former city hall, instead.)

  6. David Greenwald

    Since most of the comments here are not on the topic of panhandling, curious as to what people think about the proposed ordinance and whether it is workable and will help to solve the problem?

  7. Tia Will

    Except for the change in distance from ATM, which I see as appropriate, the other sections are so vaguely worded ( example: “This ordinance expands the prohibition of certain aggressive conduct that is not currently prohibited by state law.”) that it is impossible to tell if this is or is not a good idea since there is no indiction of what “certain aggressive conduct” actually means. 

    Unless we know exactly what additional behaviors are being targeted or criminalized, how could we make a judgement ?

  8. Mike Hart04

    It is a small timid first step toward addressing the active invasion we are facing. I do agree with Marina Khan that the police would do well to make sure that vagrants are fed and have a safe place to be on the condition they are leaving town immediately.  I also agree that we should set aside a place outside of town where it is legal for the homeless who are unwilling or unable to move along to camp.  This would be a great place to bring in food, medical help and counseling.  It is not reasonable that they camp and leave trash all around our community. We need to provide a very specific campground where they can be cared for and given work that is appropriate for their capabilities.

  9. Tia Will

    We need to provide a very specific campground where they can be cared for and given work that is appropriate for their capabilities.”

    Do you see this as a city responsibility ?  Would you be willing to support the $50 tax to support such a project ?  What do you envision as a “campground” ? Tents ? Mini houses? Other shelter?

    1. David Greenwald

      It appears that the campground will be housing and the care will be social services and the work will be pubic works (for lack of a better descriptor).

    2. Mike Hart04

      I see it as a responsibility of our police department. I would be willing to support a tax like the one proposed if it were to be administred by the Davis PD to provide a safe camp location out of our downtown. I would see paying these people to clean up some of the damage they have done to our community would be a reasonable investment.

      Tents are a reasonable solution for transients. The more difficult question is what to do for people that have no plans to leave our community. The proposal to give them houses strikes me as counter-productive as that will simply encourage still more of them to come to Davis for their free housing.

      A police adminstered campground that is a safe and legal place to overnight where organizations that wish to support them can provide that support can go- is fine with me and I would provide financial support.  I would personally be willing to provide additional funding to help get this going.

       

  10. John Hobbs

    “A police adminstered campground”

    Are the police especially qualified to administer a campground? Are they interested in doing that? Joe Arpaio has some experience with camp administration(so did Himmler). Not sure Davis would find those camps suitable.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for