Soliciting On Medians

March 25, 2008 9:19:13 PM PDT
Soliciting for any reason on traffic medians is one step closer to becoming illegal in Fresno. It was once again a topic at Fresno City Hall.

The rule would apply to anyone soliciting donations from medians in the middle of the street. Fresno leaders voted four to three to move forward with a plan that could ticket people who does so.

From panhandlers asking for money to volunteers selling papers on Kids Day, the new ordinance would make soliciting on medians illegal.

Brian Calhoun: "Days going to come when somebody is seriously injured or killed."

Council Member Brian Calhoun introduced the idea but three of his colleagues voted against it including Jerry Duncan.

Jerry Duncan: "We can't pass an ordinance for every little thing that might be a risk or a danger to somebody or pretty soon no one can do anything, or else already is over regulates just about everything we can get our hands on."

Fresno police say there were 149 pedestrian injuries last year and 11 deaths. However the majority were jay walkers and alcohol related not solicitors in medians.

"It's a necessity for a homeless person."

Alphonso Williams was the only member of the public to speak against the idea feeling it would unfairly target the homeless like him.

Alphonso Williams, Homeless: "Things should be equal for everybody- when they first brought it up 2 weeks ago it was kids day, and I think that's why they postponed it because everybody on the corners."

The only group exempt would be firefighters' fundraisers because of a state law that trumps local law. Officers say the rule could make things safer-but would be a lower priority to more immediate dangers like gangs.

Dep. Chief Pat Farmer, Fresno Police: "This would be something that would be in the officer's toolbox to enforce between calls for service and in their free time, which sometimes depending on the call load, isn't very often."

The city now has two months to come up with the wording and conditions on the ordinance. The council will have a chance to vote on it then.


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