COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus City Council says it is trying to get a hand on aggressive panhandling. Council is reviewing legislation to address what police say is a growing problem.
We have issues daily and we have people that we are on first name-bases with and then just random faces,” said Michael Pappas, manager of Tommy’s Diner.
Staff at the popular Franklinton restaurant say panhandling has gotten worse within the past year along West Broad Street. Pappas says he is frequently shooing panhandlers away from customers.
“I am out here 6-7 times a day,” said Pappas.
“They will come up to their car window. They can’t even open the door and they are right there ready to just ask for money,” said Pappas.
Columbus city council is trying to put a stop to aggressive panhandling.
“We aren’t banning panhandling but rather circumstances that would put an individual or number of individuals’ health potential at risk,” said council member, Michael Stinziano.
Stinziano says the new legislation would treat panhandling as an issue.
- Prohibiting transactions in the middle of the street or a freeway.
- Making it illegal for people to follow someone who has told them no or touching them.
- Putting a three feet barrier around people using an ATM.
Stinziano attributes the increase of panhandling to the city’s economic and population growth.
“We are dealing with an increase in the opioid epidemic. We know that may drive some people to panhandling. We know we have a housing crisis so that may drive people to seek panhandling,” said Stinziano.
Columbus police say just 20 cases of aggressive panhandling were filed in 2016 and just 8 in 2017 before police stopped enforcing the city’s panhandling law in June of 2017.
Council will vote on this proposal Monday.