Chesapeake ordinance could soon cost those panhandling on certain streets


CHESAPEAKE (WAVY) —- If you or someone you know is caught panhandling on the streets of Chesapeake, it could soon cost you.  This holds true for children raising money for their baseball team, firefighters getting donations for charity and those who do it to make a living.

Mike has been panhandling on the streets of Chesapeake for years now.

“My only source of income is this right here,” said Mike. “I come out here for about 1 or 2 hours, that’s about as long as I can stand out here.”

Mike is disabled. He fell through a roof, 22 feet, he tells 10 On Your Side.

“You make the most money in the median, the sidewalks just aren’t as good because most people drive and see you in the median.”

But soon Mike will be moving to the sidewalk because of the ordinance passed unanimously by city council.

The solicitation ordinance is not specifically a panhandling ordinance, but it affects Mike.

That is because it restricts pedestrian activity within traffic lanes of all public roads or roads that are at least 35 miles per hour or have 4 or more travel lanes. City leaders say it discourages drivers from stopping at green lights in order to conduct transactions with pedestrians.

“I understand it, people don’t pay attention anymore,” Mike said. “I was almost hit once.”

It’s the exact reason why Councilman Robert Ike says he’s in favor.

“When the light turns green people are still trying to give money, and it backs up traffic and they are in and out of the traffic lanes, it is a danger,” said Councilman Ike.

According to a Supreme Court ruling, if you restrict people in the right of ways, it has to be all or nothing.

“One of the causalities of this was the Fill the Boot campaign,” said Councilman Ike.

Fill the Boot is a campaign in which local fire departments help collect funds for muscular dystrophy.  10 On Your Side was told the firefighters are looking to find a different way to keep the campaign strong, but no decisions have been made yet.

However, safety is paramount.

The city reports 65 accidents involving pedestrians over the last two years, and Mike understands that, and hopes soon he’ll collect disability and avoid doing this.

The consequence?  Pay up to $350, or community service.

Ike says a judge could also dismiss it with a warning.  And of course, we want to make it clear, the ordinance does not include lawful crossing of the street.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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