Pasco County leaders looking into new ordinance to curb panhandling

Pasco County

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — There’s a new effort underway in one bay area county to cut down on panhandling.

Pasco County Commissioners said it’s becoming a safety issue, so they’re creating an ordinance they hope will deter people from trying to solicit money in busy roadways.

“We see one guy on 19 in a wheelchair in the middle of the road,” resident Peter Mangiapane said. “They get hit, god forbid, what happens?”

“It’s just become more prevalent again,” Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano said. “It’s the number one complaint I get.”

Current ordinances prevent solicitation but have been challenged over free speech concerns.

“Our sheriffs department has said they have trouble enforcing it,” Mariano added. “Our attorneys agree there’s a difficulty with it.”

Now, elected leaders may have found another way to halt the practice. County commissioners and attorneys are looking at an ordinance already in place in Lee County. The ordinance would prevent stopping or standing in a median unless you’re actively crossing and take out any mention of solicitation.

“We think Lee County did a great job with it,” said Mariano.

County attorneys are drafting the ordinance and county commissioners hope it will be up for consideration in the near future.

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