From the Arcata City Council agenda for tonight’s meeting:

IX. NEW BUSINESS.
A. Introduce Ordinance No. 1399, Adding Article 10 – Unlawful Panhandling to Title IV – Public Welfare, Morals and Conduct; Chapter 2 – Other Violations, to the Arcata Municipal Code.
On October 21, 2009, the Council gave direction to draft a panhandling ordinance to include a City-wide ban against aggressive panhandling and a location-specific ban against panhandling of any form in certain problem areas.

RECOMMENDATION: Introduce Ordinance No. 1399, adding Article 10 – Unlawful Panhandling to Title IV – Public Welfare, Morals and Conduct; Chapter 2 – Other Violations, to the Arcata Municipal Code; waive reading of the text and consent to read by title only.

The link is to the staff report, but I can’t find a link to the ordinance proposal itself. I’m assuming that the “aggressive” panhandling provisions would require that the panhandler withdraw after the first “no,” as in the San Francisco ordinance which I believe was upheld as not barred by the First Amendment.

I get that there are serious problems which drive away business.   I am hesitant to bring my kids to the Arcata Square green at times, and sometimes certain people have dominated the Arcata Forest playground which ought to be left for kids.  But there are basic liberties at stake as well, and I’m concerned that the issue can play right into the ongoing war on the poor.

I’m for banning panhandling at ATMs, but I’m concerned about what appears to the scope of “problem areas.”

I think I would oppose the measure, but no, I don’t have any alternative constructive solutions.

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