Stricter panhandling rules in Seattle proposed



Posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:12 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 25 at 7:19 PM

SEATTLE - Put more cops on the street and crack down on panhandling. That's part of a new proposal to make downtown Seattle streets safer.

The crack down is on aggressive panhandlers. Downtown businesses claim people are scared away from Seattle by pushy beggars. Under the new proposal by Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess, panhandlers would be prohibited from the following:

  • Begging near a parking meter.
  • Begging within 15 feet of someone using an ATM.
  • Using intimidating language or abusive gestures.
  • Following you after you say 'no.'

If a panhandler breaks the rules, they would get a 50 dollar ticket. Of course, you wonder how they would pay for it. Burgess suggests that the offender should pay in community service.

The biggest safety concerns downtown are not panhandlers. A survey by the Downtown Seattle Association finds 75 percent of residents are concerned about drug dealing. Sixty-nine percent are concerned about drunken behavior and 66 percent say panhandling.

Some doubt restrictions on beggars will lead to safer streets and insist it simply targets the homeless.

Burgess's plan does address street crime in general. He's called for more police foot patrols downtown and more outreach to the homeless.