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Sacramento Targets Aggressive Panhandling

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.


Sacramento City Council members have approved a new ordinance intended to crack down on aggressive panhandling. 

Homeless advocates like Bob Erlenbusch don't like the new ordinance. Erlenbusch leads the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. At last night's council meeting, he complimented the city for agreeing, earlier this month, to partner with Sacramento County on homeless prevention programs like mental health services and drug abuse treatment.

"But turning around a week later and passing an ordinance that further criminalizes homeless people is counter productive," said Erlenbush.

Under the new ordinance, "aggressive" means: intimidating people into giving money; closely following someone after they've already declined to give money; or intentionally touching someone.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said if the ordinance banned panhandling outright, he would oppose it.

"But we hear it from ordinary residents, we hear it from small businesses that there is an increasing amount of threatening behavior," said Steinberg.

A third offense for aggressive panhandling could result in a misdemeanor.

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