YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Westside Digest

Beverly Hills : Panhandling Law Approved

March 25, 1993

A tough new ordinance aimed at eliminating aggressive panhandling, public drinking and many forms of sitting, sleeping and lying in public places was unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

The law, which goes into effect April 23, makes it a misdemeanor to "coerce, threaten, hound or intimidate another person" for a donation.

A second provision forbids drinking alcoholic beverages on public or private property open to the public without the permission of the owner.

A third provision, which drew some criticism at Tuesday's meeting, prohibits people from sitting, lying or sleeping on sidewalks, greenbelts, parking lots and other public areas open to pedestrian or vehicular traffic. The provision makes exceptions for people who are watching a parade or sitting on a bench and for people with a physical disability.

Resident Beth Meltzer, describing homelessness as "our ugliest social problem," said it would be callous to prohibit people to sit or lie on the sidewalk. The ordinance, she said, appeared to be designed to remove the homeless from sight and avoid taking the city's share of responsibility for the problem.

Mayor Robert K. Tanenbaum said the ordinance was a response to the complaints of many residents and was necessary to keep streets and parks available for all of the city's people.

The city is also implementing a program to help residents direct their donations to private social service agencies rather than giving directly to panhandlers, council members said.

Los Angeles Times Articles