Mar 17, 2016

Instead of giving to panhandlers, the City of Eureka "encourages those who wish to help the less fortunate to give to the non-profit of their choice. "

The Eureka City Council unanimously approved amendments to Eureka Municipal Code Section 130.06 “Aggressive Solicitation” at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The City’s panhandling ordinance was originally approved in 1995 and later amended in 2005. It came back before Council in 2012 for additional amendments that were to include additional areas such as parking lots and from motor vehicles. The same day, however, that the Council was set to consider those amendments, the Humboldt Superior Court issued a ruling in a lawsuit against the City of Arcata’s panhandling ordinance. In view of that ruling, the proposed 2012 amendments were revised to prohibit all panhandling in just two areas of the City: banks and ATMs; and, public transportation vehicles. City staff also recommended that “once a further legal determination, if any, regarding these specific locations has been made, the ordinance can be amended.”

The City Attorney’s Office has been monitoring the status of legal challenges to other jurisdictions aggressive solicitation laws. Most recently, the County of Sacramento’s law regarding aggressive solicitation was challenged in court by the ACLU. As a result of the lawsuit, the County of Sacramento amended its ordinance to the satisfaction of the ACLU and is now enforcing that ordinance with some success. The amendments to Eureka’s current ordinance mirror the Sacramento County law.

The adopted amendments will prohibit solicitation in the following additional areas of the City:
Motor Vehicles. No person shall solicit from an operator or occupant traveling in a motor vehicle while such vehicle is located within two hundred (200) feet of any intersection in which at least one corner is controlled by an official traffic signal of the type set forth in California Vehicle Code Section 21450 or by any sign regulating the flow of traffic, such as a stop sign or yield sign.

 Median Strips. No person shall solicit on a median strip or in any manner or location that is inconsistent with the provisions of the California Vehicle Code.

Driveways Accessing Shopping Centers, Retail, and Business Establishments. No person shall solicit from an operator or occupant traveling in a motor vehicle while such vehicle is located within thirty-five (35) feet of a driveway providing vehicular access to a shopping center, retail, or business establishment.

Public Transportation Vehicles and Stops. No person shall solicit in any public transportation vehicle or within fifty (50) feet of any designated or posted public transportation vehicle stop. Gasoline Stations and Fuel Pumps. No person shall solicit from an operator or occupant of a motor vehicle while such vehicle is stopped in a gasoline station or at a gasoline pump.


The amended ordinance will go into effect on April 14, 2016. The City will begin passing out notices to panhandlers this week about the new law.

 City Manager, Greg Sparks, believes that “the Council acted in response to the numerous complaints regarding panhandling from businesses, residents and visitors.” Chief of Police, Andrew Mills, in response to the ordinance’s adoption has indicated that “EPD officers will be trained on the details of the new ordinance and begin enforcement on April 14.”

The City encourages those who wish to help the less fortunate to give to the non-profit of their choice.

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