JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is looking to crack down on panhandling in the median of roads. This has been an issue all over the city in recent years and the city council is working improve safety.
Proponents of the bill say Jacksonville has become the 6th most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians. So not only is the city looking to make it illegal to panhandle, it will be against the law to give someone money on the side of the road.
Maxine Phillips has concerns about panhandling. “All the time, it happens all the time. Especially when I’m going to Publix or TJ Maxx,” Phillips said. When asked what she thinks about the city trying to ban it. Phillips replied, “I think it would be a good thing to be honest because it can be scary.”
The bill would make it illegal in most cases, but there would be exceptions for charitable fundraising including the fire department’s fill the boot campaign.
JSO officers were seen removing some panhandlers on a median in the Brooklyn neighborhood Tuesday. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said right now, they can remove panhandlers if they’re causing danger in the roadway.
City councilman Kevin Carrico is one of the sponsors of the bill. He said he suspects it will hold up to any legal challenges.
“We’ve taken a lot of time with our general council,” Carrico said. “There have been 20 other municipalities that have passed similar bills where we are outlawing people in our public roadways.”
If the law is passed by the city council next Tuesday, there will be a 30 day grace period before JSO can start issuing citations to educate the public.
At first, a person would get a warning but after multiple offenses, they could feasible be issued a ticket or even arrested.
If a charity gets a permit, it would be up to city planners to post signs that the group is legally asking for money and drivers are within their rights to give them a few dollars out their windows.