In Salt Lake City, the current Mayor, Ralph Becker, is proposing an ordinance that would restrict pan handling only in certain area's and times of the day. My impression is that this ordinance would essentially make it illegal to be poor and beg in Salt Lake City. This Deseret News article quotes the following:
"As it is currently written, the ordinance would prohibit panhandling within 20 feet of sidewalk cafes, lines of people waiting to be admitted to a vehicle or place, street vendors, bus stops, entrances to some religious establishments and ATMs.
Panhandling also would be outlawed on buses and trains and in public transit hubs.
Under the proposed ordinance, it would be illegal for panhandlers to make false claims about being homeless, disabled, a veteran or a stranded out-of-towner.
Panhandlers also wouldn't be allowed to block traffic, impede a pedestrian's path or ask for money while walking "behind, ahead of, or alongside" someone.
Panhandling before sunrise or after sunset would be outlawed."
I am unsure how one would go about enforcing the portion of the ordinance making it illegal to pan handle under false claims as if false advertising laws come into play some how. Are they going to require a pan handling license in the future? How does one go about proving they are homeless or a stranded out-of-towner?
Potential issues as I see are this:
Pan handlers will be pushed into certain areas that meet this criteria. This could place an unfair concentration of pan handling out in front of particular properties dropping foot traffic, and land values as there could be an un-spoken zoning designation as being a pan handling "ok" zone. Under the current wording there would be very few places that are not by a bus stop or religious zone in Salt Lake. They might as well say no pan handling in Salt Lake downtown period under such a criteria.
Quite a bit less homeless individuals and pan handling going on making downtown a more comfortable place for those with an aversion to such individuals and practices. Restored reputation locally as a safer place to be at night.
Ultimately I wonder what effect this will have on the church. This ordinance comes around the nearing completion of the Church owned downtown refurbishment and does seem to carry with it the idea of a downtown Utopia being organized. But for me I can't help but wonder if this is an ordinance Christ would be behind? He always taught to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless. Pushing away charity into the dark corners of the city might not have the effect the church is looking for. Since most consider Salt Lake City to be a sign to the world of what the Mormon Church stands for, justified or not, is this the image of compassion that the church has so long pushed to establish?
Also, is this an issue of rights? We are talking about public property and to say that someone doesn't have the right to walk beside another person simply because they are homeless makes a crime out of nothing criminal albeit undesirable. I know that those supporting this ordinance will turn things around to say that opposition to this ordinance somehow constitutes an endorsement of being homeless. Rather, the costs enforcing such an ordinance could better be spent (or not spent at all) fixing the problem rather than casting the "problem" or in this case "the human beings" aside. We can't make homelessness invisible and expect the problem to actually go away. Seems to me that an effort to help these individuals represents a higher law that not only helps to create or reinstate a tax payer and to help a human being feel human again, but does so in such a way that does not restrict their rights to exist. For me, this ordinance as it currently rests seems cold and un-Christ-like.