Thursday, November 21, 2013

Missoula May Join Boise in Panhandling Crackdown

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM

The City of Missoula, Mont., taking a cue from other municipalities such as Boise, is moving forward with its own effort to curb what it calls "bad behavior" from panhandlers.

This morning's Missoulian reports that two amendments to existing Missoula law would prohibit people from sleeping, lying or sitting within 20 feet of a doorway, entrance to pedestrian footbridge, alley or tunnel. The new changes would also forbid sleeping or lying on the sidewalk in Missoula's "Business Improvement District" from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“We are trying to target behavior, and we are trying to make sure that this real estate that the community has made significant investment in over the last 30 years, remains a safe, comfortable place for all Missoulians,” said Missoula Mayor John Engen.

Sept. 17, after listening to hours of public testimony overwhelmingly opposed to the ordinance, the Boise City Council voted 3-1 in favor of a measure that prohibits solicitation for donations colored by intimidation, obstruction of right-of-way or repeated attempted at solicitation after a negative response.

Voting in favor of the measure were Council President Maryanne Jordan and Council Members Ben Quintana and T.J. Thomson. The only Council Member voting against the ordinance was Lauren McLean.

The ACLU of Idaho has launched a federal lawsuit against the City of Boise, saying the city's anti-panhandling audience was in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"The ACLU specifically warned the Boise City Council that this ordinance was unconstitutional," said ACLU of Idaho legal director Ritchie Eppink. "This lawsuit should come as no surprise to anyone and especially not the city,"

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