Sarasota panhandling ban starts Monday - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota panhandling ban starts Monday

Posted: Updated:
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Panhandling is now illegal in the city of Sarasota.

It's been a big issue in the city for months, and a new ordinance has taken effect that bans begging from street corners. 

Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said if a panhandler is spotted, they will be warned then either ticketed or arrested.

It's a sight that's now hard to find- panhandlers on street corners.

Many of Sarasota's vagrant population have quickly vanished.

The reason? Starting Monday, police have started cracking down on panhandlers.

In February, a circuit judge ordered a 60 day injunction that prevented the city from interfering with the First Amendment rights of the homeless.

While the injunction was in place, city officials said panhandling became a serious issue. Beggars holding signs were found along most major roadways. But last week city commissioners approved a new ordinance that they believe is constitutional.

And police officers began enforcing it on Monday.

DiPino said, "Giving [panhandlers] money is keeping them in that position."

Sarasota police chief Bernadette DiPino said the new ordinance is good for the city.

"I think ultimately it's gonna help individuals who are out on the street, asking for money, it'll give us a chance to focus on getting them the help and resources they need," said DiPino.

Soliciting will no longer be allowed along roadways, medians and sidewalks.

Advertisers are excluded- they'll still be able to wave their signs.

She said, "Whether you're giving somebody a dollar or a bottle of water or whatever it is, if there is some type of interaction there, that's when the violation comes into play."

DiPino said it is legal for a driver or passenger to voluntarily hand out money from a car, but it is illegal to ask for donations from the roadway.

Officers are now keeping an eye out on their regular patrols, and signs have been posted to inform motorists.

But this doesn't sit well with the ACLU.

ACLU Attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen said, "The focus has been on homeless people but we're concerned that it will chill free speech rights of everyone."

The ACLU Sarasota chapter will keep tabs on all citations that are issued.

They're going to see if there are any first amendment violations.

Mogensen said, "I do think that there's a better way to handle the issue of homeless. When you have the government try to legislate away a social problem, you're gonna run afoul on the constitution."

All along, city officials have said this ordinance is more about driver safety, but Chief DiPino thinks it can help the homeless population too.

"We're hoping that they'll actually give their money to charitable organizations and there are so many of them doing so many good things for those people who need money and need help and resources," said DiPino.

This ordinance means nobody can solicit.

That includes newspaper salesmen and firemen with their ‘Fill the boot' campaign.

Those boot drives raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Merv Kennel, the president of Suncoast Firefighters said as a result of this ordinance, firemen have had to raise funds in front of restaurants and grocery stores.

Kennel said the donated cash pales in comparison to the money raised on street corners.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • 15 year old sexually molested in Highlands Regional Medical Center ICU

    15 year old sexually molested in Highlands Regional Medical Center ICU

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:19 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:19:41 GMT
    People go to hospitals to be healed, not sexually molested. But an 8 On Your Side investigation confirmed a 15 year old Highlands county girl, who was heavily medicated and sedated at Highlands Regional Medical Center, was sexually molested in her ICU bed.
    People go to hospitals to be healed, not sexually molested. But an 8 On Your Side investigation confirmed a 15 year old Highlands county girl, who was heavily medicated and sedated at Highlands Regional Medical Center, was sexually molested in her ICU bed.
  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:50 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:50:51 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:35:13 GMT
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Lakeland woman says cats missing, found cut in half

    Lakeland woman says cats missing, found cut in half

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:00 PM EDT2014-04-25 00:00:17 GMT
    A Lakeland woman is trying to figure out what's happening to several cats that have gone missing in the neighborhood and two that have been discovered cut in half.
    A Lakeland woman is trying to figure out what's happening to several cats that have gone missing in the neighborhood and two that have been discovered cut in half.
  • Florida governor's race latest ad hurls campaign insults

    Florida governor's race latest ad hurls campaign insults

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:37:20 GMT
    The name-calling in the governor’s race is ratcheting up. Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign is out with a new ad that calls former Gov. Charlie Crist a “slick politician” and a “lousy governor.
    The name-calling in the governor’s race is ratcheting up. Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign is out with a new ad that calls former Gov. Charlie Crist a “slick politician” and a “lousy governor.
  • Ukraine moves against insurgents in the east

    Ukraine moves against insurgents in the east

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:35 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:35:12 GMT
    Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says police have cleared the city hall in a southeastern city of pro-Russian protesters who had been occupying it for over a week.
    Russia announced new military exercises Thursday involving ground and air forces near its border with Ukraine, swiftly responding to a Ukrainian operation to drive pro-Russia insurgents out of occupied buildings in the...
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:50 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:50:51 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Squatters left dogs at soldier's house in New Port Richey

    Squatters left dogs at soldier's house in New Port Richey

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:04 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:04:53 GMT
    One of the dogs left at the soldier's houseOne of the dogs left at the soldier's house
    The house of Army Spc. Michael Sharkey sat almost empty early Thursday morning after two squatters said they moved out the day before.
    The house of Army Spc. Michael Sharkey sat almost empty early Thursday morning after two squatters said they moved out the day before.
  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.