Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 09/25/12
Mayor Kasim Reed Announces Support of Substitute Panhandling Ordinance
New panhandling ordinance, introduced after the Mayor’s veto of recently passed legislation, expands definition of aggressive solicitation and sets reasonable, enforceable penalties without unnecessarily increasing the city’s costs
ATLANTA –Mayor Kasim Reed today announced his support for substitute legislation to regulate monetary solicitation in the City of Atlanta after he vetoed a panhandling ordinance adopted last week by the Atlanta City Council. Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms and Councilmember Michael Julian Bond submitted legislation to the Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee this afternoon.
The substitute ordinance expands the definition of aggressive solicitation by prohibiting someone from continuing to ask for money after he or she has been told “no.” It also outlaws touching during monetary solicitation and sets reasonable and enforceable penalties for violators. Under the pending legislation, a second conviction for aggressive panhandling will require the violator to serve a minimum of 30 days in jail. Upon the third conviction, the violator will serve a minimum of 90 days in jail.
“Visitors and residents must feel safe in our city at all times,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “Regulating panhandling in an enforceable manner is vital where we have an active, thriving tourism and convention industry. But simply adding punitive provisions to an unworkable law does not accomplish that goal. That’s why I am pleased that my administration, in partnership with Atlanta City Councilmembers Keisha Lance Bottoms and Michael Julian Bond, has worked to develop a strong, yet reasonable ordinance to reduce panhandling in the City of Atlanta.”
Mayor Reed also emphasized his continued commitment to address homelessness in the City of Atlanta.
“I remain committed to supporting community outreach services for our citizens in need through initiatives such as our recent successful effort to house more than 100 homeless veterans in 100 days,” he said. “I will continue my support of these critical outreach services with the full weight of my administration.”
The new legislation combines the successful elements of the City’s previous panhandling ordinances and adds provisions that make it relevant to today’s circumstances. For example:
Like the 1996 and 2005 commercial solicitation laws, the pending legislation outlaws monetary solicitation within 15 feet of locations where people feel intimidated when someone asks them for money, such as at an ATM machine or at a parking lot pay box.
Like the 1996 but unlike the 2005 commercial solicitation laws, the pending legislation makes it illegal to monetarily solicit someone who is within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit, or is standing in line to enter a building or event facility.
The legislation re-defines monetary solicitation so that it applies to all commercial solicitation performed by anyone. This ordinance does not target specific types of commercial solicitation performed by certain city residents.
The legislation applies equally throughout the City. There are no special provisions for tourist areas.
“When I reviewed the existing legislation, I saw a defense attorney’s dream and a prosecutor’s nightmare,” said Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms. “I am grateful to be able to work with Mayor Reed, Councilmember Bond and the City of Atlanta Department of Law to draft a new ordinance that addresses aggressive solicitation and, more importantly, addresses the primary concern of our citizens and visitors, which is their safety.”
“I appreciate the work and collaboration with the Administration on this issue in service to our constituents,” said Councilmember Michael Julian Bond.
In addition, the substitute ordinance incorporates legal standards for solicitation that have been set out by the federal courts. It does not impact written materials but instead prohibits in-person, oral or gestured requests for an immediate payment of money in certain locations and outlaws aggressive monetary requests everywhere in the City of Atlanta.
# # #
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @City_of_Atlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed.