Panhandling is something that is more likely associated with a big city, but it does happen in mid-sized and small cities from time to time. So while it might be a surprise to some people that Royal Oak recently enacted a panhandling ordinance, they’re certainly not the first.
So, how does a town known for its restaurant and nightlife scene strike the balance between people being allowing to ask for money, without others feeling threatened?
Last week, Royal Oak softened a recently enacted panhandling ordinance after opponents said it criminalized the practice. Before, the city had put into place an anti-loitering law, which some took to interpret that no one could beg for money in any fashion. The new law still doesn’t allow aggressive panhandling, but does allow doing it in a peaceful, non-confrontational manner. It also prevents loitering in a place where illegal drugs are being done.
The softening of the law came about after the ACLU got involved, saying it was unconstitutional. They hope other cities follow suit, including Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Farmington and Farmington Hills. In the meantime, Royal Oak will continue to prosecute people for aggressive panhandling, such as touching a person without his or her consent, or following a person who walks away. Violators can be fined and jailed.
What do you think about the panhandling ordinance? Admittedly, panhandlers do make me a bit nervous, especially if they’re trying to rile you or if they follow you. On the other hand, I don’t have as much of an issue with giving a buck or two to a street performer; I figure that they’re doing me a service by providing music or entertainment. And I have seen some pretty creative panhandling in my time, including a donation cup on a fishing pole, held out to passers-by. (I thought about asking to take their picture for a few bucks, but I chickened out.)
Have you seen many panhandlers in the suburbs? What do you do when you encounter one?
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Image courtesy of meddygarnet via Flickr
This article brought to you by the good folks at Urbane Apartments Royal Oak Michigan, Urbane Apartments Ferndale Michigan,Urbane Apartments Birmingham Michigan, and Urbane Apartments Dearborn Michigan