Neighborhood proposal to curb aggressive panhandling
From the FremontUniverse blog of former P-I reporter Athima Chansanchai:
For awhile now, the all-volunteer FAWN (Fremont Aurora Wallingford Neighbors) group has noticed a growing problem: aggressive panhandling. Incidents have been most apparent outside the Upper Fremont grocery, Marketime (4416 Fremont Ave. N.).
In response to these concerns, FAWN neighbors are discussing with Marketime a strategy to work with them and other businesses to curb aggressive panhandling. Some of the behavior by panhandlers appears to match that prohibited in current municipal law. Some of the panhandlers appear to genuinely need shelter, food, or some kind of medical or mental health care. Real Change solicitors, who sell a product, do not seem to be part of the problem.
We must balance the right of individuals in public areas to ask for money with the right of others to use public right of way without aggressive, threatening interference. Needy panhandlers could be helped more constructively–for example, by providing information to connect them with nonprofit organizations to help them with appropriate services.
We propose to offer the community constructive alternatives to giving cash to panhandlers. We plan to enlist businesses to post notice of what kinds of behaviors are prohibited by law. People would have a real alternative, offering help instead of giving money. It would be clear to everyone what kind of behavior could justify calling the police. Some panhandlers probably would accept help, while others would stop panhandling where it does not pay.