Commission Approves Ban on Roadside Panhandling
Pasco joins Hillsborough and St. Petersburg in seeking ways to control panhandlers on major county roadways.
It’s against the law in Pasco County to beg for money beside the road, to sell newspapers, hold out a firefighter’s boot or collect for your favorite charity.
Except on Sundays, anyway.
County commissioners joined several other governments in the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday, July 26, in adopting a law that would ban any soliciting from the rights of way along major county roads.
A major difference between the ordinances in St. Petersburg or Hillsborough County is that Pasco’s law makes an exception for Sundays.
That means about 115 people will still be able to sell The Tampa Tribune at intersections on Sunday, an attorney representing the paper told commissioners.
The Sunday allowance also means groups such as charities or firefighters and their boot drives can raise money during daylight on Sundays, when there is only about a quarter of normal traffic.
Commissioners approved the law’s second and final review with little discussion. The vote was unanimous.
John Coyne of Holiday urged commissioners to adopt the ordinance to help control homeless people panhandling on roads in his neighborhood.
But Wendy Burris, who works with a ministry that helps homeless people, said there is nothing in the ordinance offering help to those out of work or without a home.
“The only thing I’m hearing is to get them off the street,” she told commissioners.
The new ordinance affects only roads in unincorporated areas of the county but still covers plenty of asphalt.
It affects all state and county roads outside city limits, including major highways such as U.S. 19 and State Road 54. The law also covers local roads about 100 yards from intersections with major highways.
While Pasco’s law makes an exception for Sundays, there are some restrictions.
The person must be at least 18 years old and have a photo identification issued by the state. The person also has to wear a reflective vest and can’t act aggressively or touch any vehicles.
Pasco joined Hillsborough and St. Petersburg in an effort to get panhandlers away from stoplights and intersections. Both enacted outright bans for street-side soliciting on major roadways.
Tampa’s city council is grappling with the situation. The city did adopt an ordinance that requires anyone soliciting at intersections to wear a yellow, reflective vest, and the city council members there have expressed support for adopting Pasco’s six-day rule.
New Port Richey took a slightly different tack and made aggressive panhandling illegal and banned making threats.
In other action Tuesday
Commissioners set Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Dade City as the first budget public hearing. They adopted a preliminary millage rate unchanged from last year.
They can lower that rate but not increase it.
Commissioners also approved transferring $190,000 in grant money to New Port Richey to improve drainage and sidewalks in three low-income neighborhoods; agreed to let the Land O’ Lakes Lightning Swim Team use the pool at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Center during off periods; approved training park supervisors to write tickets for people who don’t pay for parking at county parks; and waived the dumping fee for trash collected during the annual coastal clean-up effort.