Colorado Springs Council to Consider Downtown Panhandling Ban

November 9, 2012

Colorado Springs City Council is expected to consider a ban on panhandling downtown when it meets next week. KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports.

The proposed ordinance would ban all forms of panhandling in a 12-block area between Cascade and Nevada Avenues, and Boulder to Cucharras. Interim Director of the Downtown Partnership, Hannah Parsons, says aggressive panhandling makes people feel unsafe.

"This is something that’s been heavily requested by residents of downtown – not just property owners – I mean just people in general."

The ACLU of Colorado is keeping an eye on the issue. Staff attorney Sara Rich hadn’t seen the latest draft of the ordinance, but says any ban that’s based on the content of a person’s speech would be unconstitutional.

But Bob Holmes says other cities have enacted bans that pass muster with civil rights advocates. He’s the director of Homeward Pikes Peak, an organization that works to end homelessness. Holmes says he’s been advocating for action like this for years.

"About 99% of the people who ask for money need it to buy drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, no matter what they say."

The council is expected to hear public comment on the issue at its meeting Tuesday, which starts at 1:00. If council members move it forward, the ordinance would be set for final passage at a later date.