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City Council Strengthens Law Against Panhandlers

  • Written by The Atlanta Daily World
  • Published in Atlanta
     The Atlanta City Council on Monday, Sept. 17, approved an amendment to the city’s commercial solicitation ordinance to combat aggressive and persistent panhandlers. (Legislative Reference No. 12-O-1004).  The amendment was approved by a vote of 9-5.     The amendment reads: Under the new amended ordinance it shall also be unlawful for any person to commercially solicit in any of the following manners: by blocking the path of the person solicited; or by following or walking alongside the person solicited; or by using profane or abusive language, either during the solicitation or following refusal; or by accosting or focusing oneself upon the company of another; or by any statement, gesture, or other communication which a reasonable person in the situation of the person solicited would perceive to be a threat; or by touching the person solicited.     Upon conviction, the violator could be sentenced to imprisonment of up to 180 days in jail, although a judicial system would have discretion on sentencing.     “It is my intent to address what my constituents say is a problem,” said Council Member Michael Julian Bond, the author of the amendment. “We need to change behavior. I want to be clear. This paper is not about homelessness. It’s about aggressive panhandling.”      “This city is just at a breaking point,” said Councilmember Cleta Winslow. “We need to get a better handle on this.”     A special work session was held Tuesday, Sept. 18, in Council Committee Room No. 2 at Atlanta City Hall to discuss the city’s overall commercial solicitation ordinance,  which addresses soliciting in the tourist triangle among other prohibitions.     Mayor Kasim Reed promises to veto the new ordinance and would present his own “less punitive” one to City Council.     In other news, the Atlanta City Council approved a communication by Reed appointing Ms. Duriya Farooqui as chief operating officer for the City of Atlanta. Farooqui has served as interim chief operating officer since December 2011. (Legislative Reference No. 12-C-1242); approved a resolution by councilmembers Kwanza Hall, Carla Smith, Cleta Winslow, C. T. Martin, Ivory L. Young Jr. and Michael J. Bond as amended by Transportation Committee adopting a Parking Bill of Rights. The Parking Bill of Rights states that it is the belief of the Atlanta City Council that the city should have (1) working, easy to use (parking) meters; (2) clearly marked parking spaces; and (3) clear and understandable signs.     A certified copy of the resolution will be sent to the city’s chief executive officer, the chief operating officer and the regional manager of ParkAtlanta and its parent company, Duncan Solutions Inc. (Legislative Reference No. 12-R-114).     The council also referred  back to their respective committees of origin two ordinances that (1) rezones properties known as 690 Lindbergh Drive, 723-745 Morosgo Drive, 2472-2480 Adina Drive and 2455 Piedmont Road; and (2) that changes the land-use designation of the 21 acreage to allow for a commercial development that will include a Walmart store near the Lindbergh MARTA mass-transit station.     

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