Proposed City of Rockford panhandling ordinance

Editor’s note: The following is the proposed panhandling ordinance to be voted on in the Sept. 25 City Council meeting.

Section 18-42 Aggressive Panhandling

(a) As used in this section panhandling means 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, and includes but is not limited to seeking donations:

(1) By vocal or music, singing, or other street performance; and

(2) Where the person being solicited receives an item of little or no monetary value in exchange or a donation, under circumstances where a reasonable person would understand that the transaction is in substance a donation;

(3) However, panhandling shall not include charitable solicitations permitted under Section 250-43, the act of passively standing or sitting or performing music, singing or other street performances with a sign or other indication that a donation is being sought, without any vocal request other than in response to an inquiry by another person.

(b) It shall be unlawful to engage in an act of panhandling during the evening hours after sunset or before sunrise.

(c) During daylight hours, it shall be unlawful to engage in an act of panhandling when either the panhandler or the person being solicited is present at any of the following locations:

(1) at a bus stop;

(2) in any public transportation vehicle or public transportation facility;

(3) in a vehicle which is parked or stopped on a public street or alley;

(4) in a sidewalk cafe;

(5) in any public parking garage;

(6) within twenty (20) feet of a residential living facility where persons over the age of sixty-five (65) are the primary residential population; or

(7) within twenty (20) feet in any direction from an automatic teller machine or entrance to a bank.

(8) within twenty (20) feet of a residential living facility where persons with physical or developmental disabilities are the primary residential population.

(9) within twenty (20) feet of a church or other place of worship;

(d) It shall be unlawful to engage in an act of panhandling in an aggressive manner, including any of the following actions:

(1) Touching the solicited person without the solicited person’s consent;

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

(3) Blocking the path of a person being solicited, or otherwise blocking a person’s ability to enter or exit 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 feel compelled; or

(6) Panhandling in a group of two (2) or more persons.

(c) Each act of panhandling is prohibited by this section shall constitute a public nuisance and a separate violation of this code.

A person convicted of violating the ordnance will be fined not more that $750.00 for each violation. The court shall enjoin any such violator from committing further violations of this section. A repeat offender who violates the mandatory injunction provided in Paragraph (c) of this Section could be jailed for contempt of court.

From the Sept. 20-26, 2006, issue

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