ST.AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The days of panhandling in St. Augustine’s historic district could come to an end. In as soon as 11 days, panhandling could be banned within 20 feet of ATMs, parking lots, and businesses within city limits.
City commissioners are set to vote Monday on whether to adopt a distance ordinance that would limit where people can solicit for money.
Aggressive panhandlers have become an issue of public safety that the city is working to resolve.
Evelyn Hammock is a part of a vagrant watch group that monitors the city nightly from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
She documents everything they see on their Facebook page to help take care of the problem.
“We can’t patrol the city forever. We have been doing it now for six months,” Hammock said.
Hammock doesn’t think the ordinance will fix the problem, but believes it’s a step in the right direction.
“It’ll take them off St. George, but it’s not going to help everybody; still, it’s better than nothing. Right now we have nothing,” Hammond said.
Business owners tell News4Jax that they have spent countless months calling police, fixing damaged property and dealing with customers upset about aggressive panhandlers.
Beata Kosakowska owns two businesses in St. Augustine and believes city leaders are doing what they can.
“They handled it beautifully by putting up signs all over the place where the homeless people gathered saying not to give them money. If they need assistance there is a number,” Kosakowski said.
St. Augustine city commissioners are expecting a large turnout for public comment at Monday’s meeting.
If the ordinance passes, it will go into effect April 5.