TAMPA, Fla. - As panhandling continues to rise in the bay area, so does the frustration among many neighbors dealing with those begging along local streets. Tampa city leaders have been trying to come up with a solution to deal with the problem and now, they may follow in the footsteps of another local community.
Just last week, Pasco County discussed a proposed ordinance which would allow panhandling only on Sundays. The preliminary ordinance of a six-day panhandling ban would not allow roadside sales, marketing and collection activities that pose possible safety problems or potentially impede traffic on the county's busy intersections for any day but Sunday.
On Thursday, June 16, the Tampa City Council is having a workshop to discuss the same issue. It begins at 9 a.m. in old City Hall at 315 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa. The City Attorney, Tampa Police Department and the Sheriff's Office will discuss policy issues relating to street solicitation in medians and intersections.
Under Pasco's ban, anyone soliciting money on the roadside must be at least 18 and would be required to carry a state-issued photo identification and wear a high-visibility vest. The six-day-a-week ban applies to all state, county and most local roadways
Some believe the problem is getting worse as panhandlers are tossed out of other communities and relocate to Tampa because of its laid back solicitation rules. But some council members argue a six-day ban won't go far enough to resolve the public safety issue.
This issue has been debated before but the Tampa city council was unsuccessful in adopting a panhandling ban. In February, the council rejected a partial ban, which would have prohibited panhandling along the entire length of Hillsborough and Nebraska avenues, Kennedy Boulevard, Fowler and Fletcher avenues and other major thoroughfares.
Other legislation by Florida lawmakers would have banned panhandling across the state, but that bill did not make it to a final vote before the legislative session ended.