JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The only thing standing in the way of banning those asking for money on the city’s roadways is Mayor Lenny Curry’s signature.
Jacksonville City Council passed a bill Tuesday night to make it illegal to ask for or give someone money on the streets of Duval County. That bill is raising some questions about how it will be enforced and if it’s even needed.
News4JAX spoke with two people with differing opinions on asking for money on the road: someone who said they need it to survive and the city council member who led the charge to ban it.
This law is said to be designed to make roadways safer by keeping people from going into roads asking for money or by drivers stopping to give it. Next month it is expected to be enforced but there is still lots of concern about how this is really going to work.
Claude Payne was at the intersection of Philips Highway and University Boulevard on Wednesday and said he has no choice but to ask for money. He didn’t know what he was doing will be illegal next month until News4JAX told him.
“You got to do what you got to do. I can’t work. I have to be out here doing this,” Payne said.
He said he doesn’t think the impending law is fair.
For the next 30 days, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be educating people like Payne and also drivers who stop to give cash. But right now JSO is working out the details.
City Councilman Kevin Carrico was behind the legislation. He said it’s not about targeting homeless people, it’s about keeping roads safe.
The bill’s text mentioned a report from last year that found Jacksonville was identified as the sixth worst municipality in the country for pedestrian deaths as a result of being struck by vehicles. Data from the Florida Department of Transportation showed in 2018, Duval County experienced a total of 471 vehicle/pedestrian crashes from which there were 34 fatalities.
“The bill itself or legislation doesn’t prevent anyone from standing on the side of the road and exercising their free speech. It’s when the person on side of the road makes a dangerous move of walking into the roadway,” Carrico said.
Many times you can see youth groups along roads asking for money like football teams and car washes. Without a permit, that will also be illegal.
“What I would recommend to these youth sports leagues it’s just simply change up the strategy here,” Carrico said.
Charitable groups will be allowed as long as they are permitted. City attorneys are still working on that procedure.
As for drivers who give money, JSO will have to keep track of those they stop for that violation. And like those asking for money on the road, at first, it will be a warning but then after repeated stops, it could be a fine and even possible jail time.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is expected to sign this into law and then there will be a 30-day grace period.