City Government

Panhandling Ordinances: Anything Helps, God Bless

Boise’s city fathers and mothers are once again grappling with how to “get the bums off the streets.” (no political correct notes please)

Tuesday the councilors will discuss three proposed ordinances which are wrought with definitions and circumstances bound to cause confrontation, diverse interpretation and enforcement.

Aggressive Solicitation Ordinance: prohibiting solicitation of money from motorists on a roadway, soliciting from persons who are eating and drinking at sidewalk cafes or standing in service lines, soliciting outside entrances to banks or near ATMs, solicitation within 20 feet of bus stops or taxi stands or solicitation within 20 feet of any parking payment station or within any public parking garage. Violation would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Would firefighters still be able to fill the boot? And just WHERE can those sad folks holding creative pasteboard signs stand? And more importantly, where does the beggar come up with the cash to pay a $1,000 fine?

Civil Sidewalks Ordinance: prohibiting sitting on or lying on a publicly owned infrastructure not designed for sitting, such as planters, trash receptacles or utility boxes, in building entrances or exits, in driveways or loading docks. Violators would be issued a warning before any citation is written. If a citation is written, it would be an infraction costing $61.50. A subsequent violation within 24 hours would be a misdemeanor. The ordinance includes exceptions for medical emergencies, wheelcahirs and strollers, special events and parade viewing.

Are we really asking coppers to accost “decent people” propped up against a planter or doorway chatting about a new baseball park because the object wasn’t designed for sitting? Equal protection under the law!

Public Placement Ordinance: requiring a permit for erecting a tent, stage or placing tables or chairs on public property. The ordinance exempts personal property such as bikes and other temporary items used while visiting a park, attending a picnic, sporting event or parade. Violations would be a misdemeanor.

It would appear those entrepreneurial kids with lemonade stands face the $1,000 and six months in jail as well!

Note to city mothers and fathers: FAGETTABOUTIT! There are already enough laws on the books to cover disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, obstructing traffic, etc. When a law is aimed at a specific segment of society, if the trigger is pulled it can backfire.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Kill tha Boot
    May 20, 2013, 8:14 am

    Fill the boot is the worst. THE WORST. End it – it is far more obnoxious than ANY panhandler (though I support this ordinance as well).

    I had an enterprising kid of about 10 years old accost me for fundraising money Saturday night at about 10pm on Sixth & Main downtown… The kid had moxie for sure.

  2. I agree. Fill the Boot is a huge pain. I don’t want ANYONE approaching my car while stopped at an intersection.

  3. I find it particularly offensive when the panhandlers hang out at the ATM’s. Otherwise, they only hang out where they get handouts for the most part. I do not like to see them at busy intersections and are a safety hazard.

    Some may even think panhandlers are an example of the Free Market Enterprise at work along with the drug trade and prostitution.

  4. Apparently unlike police, the firemen can’t just write more tickets to generate more revenue.

    It’s nice to live in a generous community. And indeed, we should be taking care of the impoverished who need food and shelter. BUT – the best way to do that is to donate to the organizations – Idaho Foodbank, Boise Rescue Mission, etc. If nobody responded to the panhandlers, I’m confident their numbers would shrink.

  5. For the many of you seeing this happening and fussing whom have jobs and computers perhaps this needs to be let go all the way around. Lemonade stands and people out of work is not solution for these people to even think on fines of $1,000 when it’s one day at a time for so many. Where is the humility here? Copper’s have plenty on their plate and so do the lawbooks.
    As mentioned alternative is provide situations, fine them when they can’t pay, issue warrants for past dues, arrest them, send them to jail but can’t bail out nor pay fines. Children associated get assigned to Child and Welfare camps. What’s next?

  6. yea, fill the boot is utter nonsense, lucky one of them hasn’t been run over or hit, just a matter of time.

  7. Grumpy ole guy
    May 20, 2013, 4:45 pm

    If parent/guardian is responsible for infraction(s) of under-age children and kids in a family with, say 5 kids, set up a lemonade stand and get busted, do the parents serve 5 times the sentence–one for each kid? or each of them 2.5 times, and what is the fine? And do the kids go into foster care while the parents serve the time? All over (probably) a bad paper cup of lemonade?
    Really? Can some clues be provided here, I’d be illing.

  8. What's a Highway?
    May 20, 2013, 4:46 pm

    Why won’t Boise Police enforce State Law?
    49-709(2) No person shall stand on a highway for the purpose of soliciting employment, business or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle, provided however, that a person may stand on a highway other than a state or federal highway to solicit contributions if authorized to do so in writing by the local authority having jurisdiction over the highway, and provided further, that any such authorization shall not be valid for more than one (1) year from the date of issuance.

    EDITOR NOTE–The code above puts total authority on the ACHD because they have “jurisdiction over the highway.”

    49-109(5) A “Highway” includes sidewalks and shoulders in Idaho

    I’ve heard from a BPD Officer personally that the Boise Police Department has been specifically prohibited by Boise City prosecutors from enforcing this statute….WHY?

    EDITOR NOTE–As an old copper, I recall we were told to write tickets under city ordinance and NOT state code whenever possible because a much bigger portion of fines went to the city when local codes were enforced rather than state codes. It’s all about the money!

  9. I like to give them an expired Wal-Mart giftcard… God Bless!

  10. Got to admit I’m also tired of the Fireman Boot. I always feel like I’m being blackmailed.

  11. i know the truth
    May 26, 2013, 7:23 pm

    Forcing panhandlers to aproach the community directly is going to more annoying than seeing them on the street corners. Sorry if you don’t like it but it’s true.

    You’ll never get rid of them and if they aren’t hurting you then why bother them? What’s the big deal anyway? all they’re doing is standing there right? you choose whether you give them money or not. it’s not like they’re forcing anything on you (I don’t see them throwing bibles and granola in YOUR face). Besides, what would all of you complain about without panhandlers?

  12. You are playing with fire thinking you can regulate first amendment rights for targeted groups and industries. Free speech all media including hand made signs. Free assembly. Free use of public byways. We have public nuisance laws and laws against obstructing traffic. Strange that ACHD (comment above) will not use current state ordinances. Maybe it’s too much time required gathering evidence and prosecuting a case (burden of proof is a b*)

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