Up Front: Cracking down on panhandling

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by Mike Cate

KING5.com

Posted on March 6, 2010 at 10:15 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 28 at 9:57 AM

No one likes aggressive panhandling. You know, those panhandlers who follow you down the street or shadow you as you use a cash machine. Seattle is currently debating how big a problem it is and what to do about it.

City Councilmember Tim Burgess has proposed a new law aimed at keeping panhandlers 15 feet away from people using automatic teller machines or public or private parking pay stations. They would be subject to a fine of $50.

The legal term for panhandling, however, is solicitation, and that can include activities like Girls Scouts selling cookies, people collecting signatures on petitions and a host of other activities that are not panhandling.

This law seems to highlight the difficulty of trying to outlaw bad behavior without impacting acceptable behaviors. No doubt Burgess will try to fine tune his proposal.

What do you think? Can he be acceptable? Can you outlaw acceptable solicitation without also outlawing unacceptable solicitation?

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