Panhandling To Be Banned in Tampa; Newspaper Hawkers Exempted

Only on Sunday
TAMPA (2011-10-20) -

Panhandling on Tampa streets will be a crime beginning Nov. 1, under an ordinance passed by the City Council today. But there will be some exceptions to the rule.

Those panhandlers who crowd around most major intersections in Tampa will soon be a thing of the past - except on Sundays. After more than a year of debate, City Council members voted to ban panhandling in the city Monday through Saturday. The ordinance will exempt people hawking newspapers on street corners. A ban will be enforced round-the-clock along the city's 10 busiest intersections

John Dengler of Tampa berated council members for not helping the less fortunate.

"This is the criminalization of poverty," he told council members. "This is not a Constitutional ordinance, and there will be lawsuits. This is not a moral law, and there will be conscious disobedience."

But taxi driver Charles Smalling says a ban is needed.

"They knock on my windows and want to speak to my customers," he said. "I see them intimidating ladies. Something needs to be done. There's too many. There's families that have been sitting on the same corner for five years - not because they're hungry, but to make the money they need to make. It's a job."

A majority of board members agreed with Smalling, saying the problem has gotten out of hand. Only council member Mary Mulhern voted no.

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