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Thursday, June 01, 2023

County Commission passes ordinance to end panhandling

An ordinance prohibiting panhandling was passed unanimously by the Alachua County Commission on Tuesday.

The ordinance prohibits any exchange of money or goods between motorists and pedestrians on public streets. The ordinance will be enforced in the unincorporated areas of the county such as parts of Southwest 20th Avenue.

The commission said the ordinance was for public safety.

County attorney David Wagner said, "We're looking to protect people in the median."

Art Forgey, a crime prevention specialist for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, said, "Some people feel threatened by it. We get an awfully lot of calls on that."

Disobeying the ordinance would result in a punishment up to a misdemeanor.

Commissioner Cynthia Moore Chestnut said she was concerned about the penalty.

"It's not a high crime to fill up the jail with," she said. "We are over our number and this will just exacerbate the situation."

Commissioner Mike Byerly said the punishment is like "firing a cannon at a mosquito."

The ordinance will be reviewed in a year to make sure it is effective.

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