Our Towns

Crowd erupts at City Hall after panhandling vote

One man in the front row threw down his protest sign and called City Council members “f—ing classist pigs.”

A dozen or so began singing “We Shall Overcome.” The singing continued for several minutes in the lobby outside council chambers after city officials closed the chambers doors and resumed the meeting for discussion of a proposed subdivision on Boise’s eastern edge.

One woman talked about the difficulty of living in low-income housing.

It was all in response to a 3-1 council vote to pass a law that will criminalize panhandling in an aggressive manner and in other circumstances, such as in a public roadway or near an ATM.

A first violation of the new law, which is scheduled to take effect in January, will be an infraction. Subsequent violations within a year will be misdemeanors, which carry much harsher penalties.

All instances of aggressive solicitation will be misdemeanors.

Boise defines aggressive solicitation as “intentionally making any non-consensual physical contact with another person, following the person being solicited with intent to intimidate into giving, continuing to solicit within five feet of a person who has expressed a negative response to the solicitation with intent to intimidate into giving, obstructing the safe or free passage of the person being solicited or (making) any threatening statement or gesture intended to intimidate the person into giving.”

Asking people for money will also be illegal in the following circumstances

• in any public transportation vehicle

• from people waiting in line

• on private property where “solicitation prohibited” is posted

• from roads or from a vehicle on a road when entering the roadway is necessary to accept the donation

• from pedestrians crossing a road

• within public parking garages

• within 20 feet of an ATM, financial institution, sidewalk cafe, mobile or street vendor on a sidewalk, public restrooms and portable toilets, bus stops, taxi stands, valet stationsand parking pay boxes or stations (not including parking meters that serve one or two spaces)

However, the ordinance allows people to stand or sit on a sidewalk and ask for money with a sign that doesn’t address a specific person.


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