Boulder has plan to stop some, but not all, panhandling

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BOULDER, Colo. -- The City of Boulder could soon outlaw panhandling, but not citywide and not all panhandling. The ordinance would ban a panhandler from asking someone for something of value, in a place where that person could be considered vulnerable. It’s also would not ban those with signs.

The city is looking at six specific areas: open dining areas, or within 20 feet of a bus stop, gas pump, parking pay station, children’s playground or ATM.

Maggie D’Angelo said, “I think it’s bad at the ATMS. I just think that’s kind of uncomfortable. You’re like, money out, credit card info.”

But, Sara-Jane Cohen works with the homeless and she says for the most part, they’re not aggressive. “The city seems to be overreacting,” Cohen said. “We are not a hateful community but some of the ordinances or ordinances that have been adopted are hateful.”

Philip Thurner works on Pearl Street. He says he rarely has issues with panhandlers, but says it would be better for business if they weren’t around.  “If something like that were to go into effect, it could definitely help out business a little bit.”

However, the ordinance says “solicitation for anything of value.” That doesn’t necessarily mean just the homeless. Cohen asked, “Does it mean change for a dollar so you can pay the parking meter?”

The ACLU will take up some of these issues at the next public hearing before the final vote. Barry Saltow, the Chair of the Boulder Chapter of the ACLU said, “We regard this in a line of attempts to sanitize downtown Boulder to get people off the mall that look unsightly or that make people feel uncomfortable.”

If the ordinance passes, it would take effect 30 days after the final vote. The maximum penalty for panhandling would be up to a $1,000 fine or up to 90 days in jail.


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