Fresno City Council passes measure to combat panhandling

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno City Council is asking you to "Help us, Help Fresno" with a program to discourage panhandling. You'll soon see more signs across the community that ask you not to give money to those who ask you for it.

You may have already seen the signs at popular shopping centers discouraging folks from giving to panhandlers and instead asking people to donate to homeless services in town.

This measure was first proposed earlier this year and was defeated in a 3-3 tie. This morning it passed 4-3 with newly sworn-in councilman Mike Karbassi now on the council.

Councilmember Garry Bredefeld presented the initiative this morning, allowing council members to choose whether or not they'd like to hang the signs in their district.

"Panhandlers are, for the majority of them, are drug-addicted, alcoholic scammers and they prey on the generosity of our citizens," said Bredefeld.

Not everyone on the council likes the proposal.

"It's absolutely a mixed message," said Councilmember Miguel Arias, "because there was no consensus from the council on the message that was approved today."

The measure passed 4-3. Bredefeld says it's for the best.

"When people give them money what you end up doing is keeping them on the street," added Bredefeld. "It just re-enforces their behavior and they use that money to buy drugs."

Action News spoke to a panhandler, who says that's not the case for him.

"If they're saying I'm a nuisance then I'll go," said Raymond Hoddes. "They've never asked me to leave the place. They just ask me to get off the property."

Hoddes says he's seen the signs that will go up under this initiative.

"I think that they're not humane and I love this place," added Hoddes. "Everybody here is nice. I don't understand."

When signs go up, he doesn't plan to leave.

"I can't because I have my dog and he's an ESA dog," says Hoddes. "He's my emotional support, my whole family's gone."

If councilmembers decide to hang the signs in their district, the signs can be paid for by private businesses or using discretionary funds from the councilmember's district.
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