Port Orange, FL - The Port Orange City Council gave unanimous approval to a panhandling ordinance during last night's (February 9) special meeting. That ordinance went into effect immediately upon approval.
District 2 Councilmember Chase Tramont said the ordinance will give law enforcement the tools needed to address the panhandling that's been permeating throughout the city for the last two or three years. He said that panhandlers won't be targeted by police. "They're going to operate just as they do with any other law and ordinance that's on the books. When they see it, they're going to address it. If it's reported, they'll address it. As they're out surveying, looking for other ways to keep our residents safe, they're going to be on the lookout for anything that's unsafe."
The entire City Council received an email yesterday from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stating that the ordinance is a violation of people's First Amendment rights. Tramont says he doesn't take too much stock in that letter as it mentions "homelessness" several times and that's not what the ordinance is about. "In our ordinance, not one time is homelessness addressed. This is not a homeless issue. Homelessness and panhandling are two separate issues. We're dealing with panhandling, period. We have other services that are offered for homeless people."
Tramont says that city staff and the Council have documentation showing the reasons for the ordinance and there are plenty of examples of aggressive panhandling in those records.