Update: Council voted 9-0 to adopt the amended ordinance.
On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, the Greensboro City Council will consider changes to Chapter 20, Article IV. – Persons Begging Or Soliciting Alms For Personal Gain, which is more commonly known as the panhandling ordinance. The ordinance was enacted in 2003 and requires that all panhandlers be registered and licensed and that they comply with all provisions of the ordinance.
A summary of the currently proposed changes:
Prohibits panhandling within 100 feet of a financial institution or ATM [Prohibited at 20 feet in the current ordinance, Sec. 20-69. - Place (7)]
Limits panhandling to sidewalks[ Sec. 20-69. - Place (10) ]; prohibits panhandling from medians, curbs, shoulders, crosswalks, roadways [ Sec. 20-69. - Place (10) ]
Prohibits panhandling within 1,000 feet of an entrance or exit from a U.S. Highway or Interstate[ Sec. 20-69. - Place (11) ]
Changes denial of permit times for violent offenders; no panhandling license within 5 years of a Class E felony, 10 years of a Class D felony or 20 years of a homicide[Sec. 20-72. - Privilege license required. (c) (2-4)]
Allows for an appeal of a refused or revoked permit[Sec. 20-72. - Privilege license required. (g)]
“I’m just trying to give my son a home. Tomorrow morning, we have to leave again.”
One of two tents at the family’s former camp site at Summit & Murrow.
A homeless, single mom, her teen-aged, college-student son, and their dog were told by Greensboro Police that they have one day to move — tents, sleeping bags and belongings — because of complaints about their camp. They are currently camping behind a business on High Point Road. They don’t know where to go next.
The family previously was living in a camp in a wooded patch on an exit ramp at Summit Avenue and Murrow Boulevard. That property is owned by the City of Greensboro, but the City ordered the family to move after residents of a nearby neighborhood complained about the camp’s visibility.
Homeless advocates* attempted to mediate, but neighbors were insistent and the City gave the family a deadline to move or have their belongings removed by the City**. The family packed their belongings in a friend’s car and went searching for a spot closer to the son’s college. Unfortunately, that new camp site has not worked out, either.
The homeless mom has had to pack up and leave camp sites many times before. But she’s tired. She doesn’t know where they’ll go. And she’s worried about her son. He has to be back in class again on Monday morning.
Important for us here in the city of Greensboro, as well:
“Cities can’t randomly seize possessions of the homeless, federal court rules: Homeless citizens in urban areas across the nation, specifically those on Skid Row in Los Angeles, won a huge legal victory today. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 ruling that the city of Los Angeles, including its police force, can’t randomly seize a homeless person’s property unless it’s a threat to public safety or serves as criminal evidence. This also applies to other cities in the United States. In those specific situations where property can be seized, it must be kept intact and moved to a location where the owner can retrieve it.”
We’ve been busy on StreetWatch this past week. Visiting homeless camps in Eastern Division with GPD Officer Dator; handing out our brochures at a Grasshoppers game during the Homerun for Homelessness; planting a second garden at the FM tent city; looking for new camps in Southern Division (thanks, Officer Clark!) and more. Photos…