Akron Cracks Down on Panhandling, Proposes New Ordinances

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AKRON, Ohio -- Cracking down on panhandlers!

Two new ordinances being proposed in Summit County would legislate how, when and where people can panhandle.

Ordinance number 2012-244 entitled “Registration of Credentials for Panhandling; Application” had its first reading Monday night at the Summit County Council meeting, on South Main St., downtown Akron.

A second ordinance, 2012-245 entitled “Unlawful Panhandling; Fraudulent Solicitation” was also proposed.

The laws would establish a number of boundaries and penalties for improper and aggressive panhandlers

Council member Nick Kostadaras said there is a growing need for this type of regulation.

After Akron and Fairlawn enacted similar ordinances, he says panhandling increased greatly in the surrounding townships. Since they can’t write a law for themselves they petitioned  county council to get involved.

“I had ladies tell me they feel unsafe when they go into a store,” said Kostandaras.

According to the ordinances currently being debated by council, begging would only be permitted from 9 a.m. until sunset.

Panhandlers would also have to stay 25 feet away from a number places like shoppng plaza’s, gas stations, ATM’s, intersections and convenience stores. They’d have to register with the county and get a photo identification card, and could not lie about their situation or claim to be something they aren’t.

At the meeting council members  debated whether or not to charge the panhandlers a $10 fee to offset the costs of registering them.

They also discussed requiring them to wear an orange safety vest for their protection.

However many council members opposed both of those measures.

In the end council decided to table the issue until the meeting next Monday so that they have adequate time to investigate the constitutionality of the laws being proposed.

One point everyone agreed on is that they don’t want hurt people who already down on their luck.

“We want to do the right thing even though there are other municipalities the city of Akron and Fairlawn that already has a panhandling ordinance.  They want to make sure that it’s legal,” said Kostandaras.

If the ordinances pass people who don't follow the law could face a minor misdemeanor charge and aggressive panhandlers could be charged with a 4th degree misdemeanor.