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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OJAI

Council to Discuss Curbs on Transients

March 21, 1998|RICHARD WARCHOL

The City Council will consider three measures Tuesday night placing strict new curbs on transients.

The restrictions would bar aggressive panhandling and sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks. In addition, they would make it illegal to sleep in parks and other public places, and to use them as open-air toilets.

The emergency measures, which would take effect immediately if approved, are a response to complaints over what officials say is a small but growing transient population in Ojai.

The panhandling measure would not ban begging, which is considered a constitutionally protected form of free speech. Rather, it would ban "aggressive" panhandling, described as approaching someone in a threatening way.

Nonaggressive panhandling--simply asking someone for money--is allowed, unless a person cannot avoid the solicitation or is in a place where they feel unusually vulnerable, such as at an automated teller machine.

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