The City will certainly lose the current lawsuit challenging the panhandling ordinance, as the geographic constraint on free speech by the ordinance is essentially total in the commercial area.
City Attorney Nancy Diamond said the ordinance is modeled after what’s been done elsewhere in the state and country, and what’s been tested in court.
The Council’s position is that the ordinance is fair and effective in achieving the goals of people of all ages to participate in social, recreational and business activities throughout the City.
City Attorney Nancy Diamond said the ordinance is modeled after what’s been done in elsewhere in the state and country, and what’s been tested in court. “We are not the first community to look at panhandling ordinances,” she said. “This is very widespread and there is a fair amount of judicial law we were able to look at… we weren’t acting in a vacuum.”
The council passed an ordinance by a 3-2 vote which takes effect April 16, 30 days after Wednesday’s meeting. The ordinance bans aggressive panhandling citywide and defines areas where all solicitation would be prohibited. Those areas are within 20 feet of an entrance to businesses, ATMs, street intersections and bus stops. Other areas where solicitation will be prohibited include pedestrian overpasses, like the one connecting Northtown to Humboldt State.
Arcata has a proud history of defending civil liberties. Let’s maintain that tradition.
All kinds of limits exist on public behavior. You can’t yell at people. You can’t say certain words. Why is it OK to demand the contents of other people’s pockets? The panhandling ordinance is really just regulating an offensive business practice.
Attorney Nancy Diamond said that the ordinance’s language had withstood legal challenges. She noted that during the City’s consideration of cannabis laws, threats of litigation had also been made, but never materialized. Similar suggestions of impending have been made during consideration of water fluoridation, homelessness, various housing projects and innumerable other matters.