New panhandling rules

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Raleigh city councilors approved a new set of rules for panhandling this week. The new rules will guide where people can ask for money, and allows panhandling only between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The city already required panhandlers to get an annual permit, but violating the new rules will be a misdemeanor. If the person has a permit, they will loose it, and could face a $500 fine.

The changes will go into effect on March 18.

Here are the new rules:

No begging or panhandling is allowed in school zones “while students are beginning or ending the school day.” Furthermore, begging or panhandling is not allowed in the following areas:

Within 20 feet of any bus stop, train station or taxi zone;

Within 100 feet of any automated teller machine or any other machine that dispenses money to the general public;

Within 100 feet of the entrance to any financial institution open for business;

Within 20 feet of any commercial establishment open for business;

Within 20 feet of any duly permitted outdoor dining area during hours of operation; and,

Within 20 feet of the entrance to any residence or residential building.

Also under the new ordinance, no one is allowed to beg or panhandle in the following manner:

While under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication unless the prescription medicine is prescribed by a licensed physician;

By coming within 3 feet of the person being approached unless that person has clearly indicated a desire to make a donation;

By blocking the path of any person along a sidewalk or street;

By following the person who has been asked for a donation after that person has either declined the request or walked away;

By using profane or abusive language during the request for a donation or after a donation has been refused;

In a group of three or more;

By using any statement, gesture or any other form of communication which a reasonable person would perceive as a threat;

By using false or misleading information, such as stating the donation is for a specific need that does not exist, has already been met, or the requestor already has the funds to meet the need; and,

By falsely indicating the requestor suffers from a physical or mental disability.

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