September 28th, 2004

heel

City panhandling law advances

copied from the tribune online today:

By Dan Mihalopoulos
Tribune staff reporter

September 28, 2004, 3:32 PM CDT

Backed by the Chicago Police Department, a City Council committee today recommended full council approval of an ordinance aimed at deterring aggressive panhandlers.

The council could vote on the proposal at its Wednesday meeting.

Advocates for the homeless criticized the proposal, but city attorneys said they believed the ordinance could withstand legal challenges.

Deputy Police Chief Ralph Chiczewski said his department deals with hundreds of complaints about aggressive panhandlers each week.

"It's a definite problem throughout the whole city," Chiczewski said. "This ordinance will help us address that quality-of-life issue."

The proposal's chief sponsor, Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd), said the legislation strikes a balance between the rights of those who solicit passively and the feelings of those who are intimidated by overly pushy beggars.

Asking for money would no longer be permitted within 10 feet of a bus shelter, CTA bus stop, ATM machine or entrance to a bank or currency exchange; in any public transit vehicle or station, or at a sidewalk cafe, restaurant or gas station.

The ordinance also would bar panhandling "in a manner that a reasonable person would find intimidating," including touching someone, blocking an individual's path or using profane or abusive language.

Violators could be fined $50 for first and second offenses and $100 for subsequent violations.
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune

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