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Is the city’s panhandling ordinance enforced?

Julian March

Wilmington police spokeswoman Lucy Crockett said residents should call the non-emergency number for New Hanover County dispatch — (910) 452-6120 — to report panhandling so an officer can respond.

The city has an ordinance governing panhandling or begging, which is defined as requesting “an immediate donation of money or other thing of value from another person, regardless of the solicitor’s purpose or intended use of the money or other thing of value. The solicitation, begging or asking may be, without limitation, by the spoken, written, or printed word, or by other means of communication.”

The ordinance says it is unlawful for anyone to panhandle:

(1) In an aggressive or intimidating manner in a public area; (The ordinance defines “aggressive manner” as including making physical contact, following a person, soliciting within five feet of anyone who has said no, blocking safe passage of a person or driver of a car, or using obscene or abusive language or gestures.)

(2) In any public transportation vehicle owned or operated by the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, or at any station or stop for such vehicle;

(3) Within 15 feet of any entrance or exit of any bank or financial institution, or within 15 feet of any automated teller machine without the consent of the owner or other person legally in possession of such facilities. Provided, however, that when an automated teller machine is located within an automated teller machine facility, such distance shall be measured from the entrance or exit of the automated teller machine facility;

(4) While the person being solicited is standing in line waiting to be admitted to a commercial establishment;

(5) On private property if the owner, tenant, or lawful occupant has asked the person not to solicit on the property, or has posted a sign clearly indicating that solicitations are not welcome on the property; or

(6) From any operator or passengers of a motor vehicle that is on a public street; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not apply to services rendered in connection with emergency repairs requested by the operator or passengers of such vehicle.

(7) At any sidewalk cafe permitted pursuant to section 4-109 of the City Code, provided such areas are in active use at the time;

(8) While under the influence of alcohol or after having illegally used any controlled substance as defined in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act;

(9) After sunset or before sunrise, unless solicitation is allowed in accordance with section 7-38 of the City Code;

(10) In the median of any street except for the median of Market Street between the western line of Front Street and the eastern line of Water Street;

(11) In or on the Riverwalk as defined in section 7-38 of the City Code;

(12) In the area of any street corner included in a triangle created by connecting the point formed by the intersection of curb lines and points equal to the width of the sidewalk from said intersection measured along each curb line; or

(13) In any public area on the following streets:

a. Water Street between the northern line of Dock Street and the southern line of Princess Street;

b. Front Street between the northern line of Dock Street and the southern line of Princess Street;

c. Market Street between the western line of Second Street and the western line of Water Street.

Anyone who violates the ordinance would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine or up to 30 days in jail. Offenders are also subject to a $25 civil penalty.

UPDATED: January 13, 2015

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One Response to “ Is the city’s panhandling ordinance enforced?”

  1. On June 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm Brian wrote:

    There should be an ordinance prohibiting loitering in the medians at an intersection. Any pedestrians in an intersection should be required to be moving from one side of the road to the other. Loitering in the median is unsafe.

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