Proposed OKC Ban On Panhandling Expanded To Include All Activities On Medians

Tuesday, September 29th 2015, 7:27 pm
By: News 9

A proposed ordinance that would ban panhandling in Oklahoma City has been expanded before a scheduled vote.

City council members got an earful on Tuesday from people opposed to the idea like charities and small business start-ups.

The proposed ordinance would now ban not only solicitation on Oklahoma City medians, but all activities.

It is very concerning for people who sell a local magazine called Curbside Chronicle.

The street paper hires homeless people to sell the magazine so they can earn money to get back on their feet.

The publication said it has helped more than 200 Oklahoma City people out of homelessness, but its founders said they feel threatened by the proposed ban to stop solicitation on medians.

Supporters of the Curbside Chronicle and charities like the Muscular Dystrophy Association begged city councilors to vote the ban down.

The Fill the Boot campaign is a huge fundraiser for MDA, bringing in about $300,000 in Oklahoma City each year.

“If you take away the opportunity for this major portion of fundraising for MDA, you are crippling the MDA just as our children are crippled by muscular dystrophy,” Tammy Carpenter said.

However, city leaders said the ordinance is for public safety and they cited 14 pedestrian deaths as evidence.

A local superintendent said while she supports the Curbside Chronicle and charities like MDA, she is for the ban because of trouble areas around her schools.

“We don't want to imagine what could happen if there is someone out there on drugs or mentally ill and my kids have to walk past them on the way home,” said Cecilia Robinson-Woods, the Millwood Public Schools superintendent.

The exceptions to the ban are employees doing work on the median, emergency responders and pedestrians crossing the street.

Violators would face up to a $500 fine.

Organizations like the Homeless Alliance told the city council, the ordinance would hurt their efforts because they are not allowed to find housing for anyone who has warrants out for not being able pay to their panhandling fines.

Solicitors could still be on sidewalks and the sides of the road.

The city council will vote on the proposed ordinance on October 13.