Recent court rulings have the city of Orlando loosening restrictions on panhandlers.
Commissioners and the mayor have repealed a seventeen year old law requiring beggars to stand within one of 27 blue boxes around the city to ask for money. Also repealed is a ten year old rule forbidding donation solicitation after dark.
The moves come after several court rulings that say the restrictions amount to a violation of First Amendment free speech provisions.
“We’ve had a number of court decisions that put in question the ordinances we had in place and whether they were enforceable or not,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer.
In place of the repealed rules—a new set of laws aimed at preserving the public’s safety when panhandlers are around. From now on, there will be no donation solicitation from motorists stopped at lights in highway exit lanes, people at ATM’s, around lines of people, and at outside restaurant tables.
Another rule bars asking for a donation again after you’ve already been told no. Panhandlers can’t block parking areas so that vehicles can’t enter or exit, and they also can’t follow people with the intent to harass them into giving them money.
Police will likely start an education campaign for a while when they see violations of the new panhandling rules, before actually making arrests.