Panama City Commissioners to Discuss Possible Ordinance Regulating Panhandling

Panama City commissioners will consider an ordinance that will restrict panhandling. It’s the latest move in their efforts to curtail the homelessness problem in the downtown area.

For several years now, downtown business owners have complained about panhandling vagrants bothering their customers. Tuesday night city commissioners will discuss the possibility of creating an ordinance to put a stop to the problem.

This is not new. Last month Escambia county commissioners passed an ordinance prohibiting anyone from standing or stopping on a median to solicit motorists. Some of the targets of any type of proposal don’t think it will work.

“The jail will be full, the jail will be full” said one homeless man.

Some people who are homeless say those who do panhandle cause problems for them.

“If they’re just out here to get some drinking money, that’s just a crock all the way around, I don’t think that’s cool” said Christopher Lash, another homeless man.

Others believe any new ordinance of this type won’t have much impact, saying some people aren’t concerned about the consequences.

“If you got good samaritans that’s willing to say, ‘here’s a dollar, go get something to eat,’ it shouldn’t be against the law” said Thomas Key, who has been homeless for eight months.

The issue will be discussed Tuesday at 5:00pm at City Hall in Panama City.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Panama_City_Commissioners_to_Discuss_Possible_Ordinance_Regulating_Panhandling_135486173.html

 This is a step in the right direction by our local government but it is still a band-aid on the real problem that is the rescue mission. If we need a new law to restrict panhandling perhaps the question needs to be asked why do we have panhandling in just the downtown area? Why is this law necessary?  We as a community should not just settle for our downtown area to be taken over by vagrants. The quote offered in this article by a vagrant is quite telling; “If you got good samaritans that’s willing to say, ‘here’s a dollar, go get something to eat,’ it shouldn’t be against the law” said Thomas Key, who has been homeless for eight months.” This guy is a vagrant. He has been “homeless” for EIGHT MONTHS! This is exactly the the institutionalization of people at the rescue mission that “movethemission” is hoping to show to our readers. They are doing a poor job of getting people off the street and a poorer job of being good community neighbors.It is time to stand up to the rescue mission management and hold them accountable to the damage they have and continuing to cause to the downtown area. 
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