Columbia City Council hopes to curb "aggressive" panhandling - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Columbia City Council hopes to curb "aggressive" panhandling

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia City Council is about to beef up a ban on "aggressive" begging from panhandlers.

The new rule would outlaw panhandling in several different places, such as within 20 feet of ATMs and banks, within 20 feet of outdoor dining or merchandising operations if they're in active use and within 20 feet of any transit or taxi stop. The city is also telling panhandlers they can't solicit anyone waiting in line or at a drive-through.

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble says that the revisions to the panhandling rule have already passed one reading and are likely to pass a second. If the revisions pass a second reading, the city would also prohibit aggressive panhandling after dark.

"The Constitution apparently protects panhandling, so we're further strengthening our aggressive panhandling ordinance," Coble said.

Downtown Clean Team Officers have helped curb panhandling by calling police when necessary. The city hopes the new ordinance should also help in panhandling hot zones like Five Points. Councilman Sam Davis wants to make sure the crackdown covers other parts of Columbia.

"If enforcement is going to be the key with this, I would expect to see that city-wide," Davis said.

The council is scheduled to take a second and final vote on the ordinance at its next meeting.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Posted by Jeremy Turnage

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