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California Briefing / SANTA MONICA

Council tightens rules on soliciting

September 18, 2008|Martha Groves

Soliciting while sitting on public chairs or benches on the Third Street Promenade and nearby areas will be prohibited under an ordinance approved Tuesday on a 7-0 vote by the Santa Monica City Council.

"The purpose of the new law is to make sure that no one commandeers the downtown seating for the purpose of basically conducting business," Councilman Richard Bloom said.

City officials emphasized that the ordinance does not seek to ban panhandling or solicitation outright but rather to free up limited public seating.

"We've had issues with people sitting down -- sometimes it's panhandling, sometimes it's other commercial behavior -- for hours at a time," Bloom said. "That means children or seniors or people who just want to take a break cannot sit on the promenade."

The ordinance -- which covers public seating on the promenade and the so-called transit mall along two neighboring streets, Broadway and Santa Monica Boulevard -- will become effective 30 days after passage.

-- Martha Groves

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