SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — City leaders will consider throwing out one of their own laws just passed less than two years ago.
In 2017, with growing complaints about homeless people, city leaders passed a law restricting panhandling.
“Our police department hears concerns consistently from businesses about safety concerns from customers getting harassed and threatened by certain types of solicitation,” said a spokesman for the police department. “These negatively affect customer experience and economic vitality of our city.”
The controversial ordinance was instantly met with resistance from homeless advocates. Along with the ACLU, they filed suit in federal court and a judge issued a preliminary injunction, halting the City of Sacramento’s anti-panhandling ordinance.
“You’re basically saying survival is illegal, you’re saying that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the homeless,” said James Clark, who jointly followed suit.
UC Davis law professor John Myers said the ordinance went too far, essentially trying to prohibit panhandling.
“People don’t think of panhandling as speech, but in a way it is,” said Myers.
The city’s law currently prohibits panhandling in an aggressive or intrusive manner at banks and ATM’s, business driveways, outdoor dining areas, street medians, transit stops, and even gas stations. Because of the ruling, the city attorney is recommending throwing out the current law.
“This panhandling ordinance is kind of a modern descendant of the old and unconstitutional vagrancy ordinances that gives discretion to law enforcement,” Myers said.
City leaders will discuss the subject at city hall Tuesday night.