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Aggressive Panhandling Issue Goes Back to City Council Committee [AUDIO]

panhandling
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After a great deal of public testimony at Monday night’s Missoula City Council meeting, the issue of aggressive solicitation, or panhandling, was sent back to committee for further review.

Ward Two councilor Adam Hertz said definitions are still being hammered out on the issue.

“I believe there was some concern about really nailing down the definition of aggressive solicitation,” Hertz said. “There was also a concern from some of the downtown business owners that some of the restrictions might also apply to street vendors, and so they were trying to get some of that language in there.”

Hertz said there are competing versions of the ordinance being considered.

“One version is proposed by Mayor Engen, and one by Councilman Jason Wiener,” Hertz said. “There will be a lot of discussion over which of those two will mover forward, if either.”

Hertz said the American Civil Liberties Union has had an effect already on the proposed changes to the ordinance.

“Both proposals, from Mayor Engen and Councilman Wiener, are more loose that the previous ordinance, so the ACLU has definitely made some headway,” Hertz said. “I think the mayor’s contention is that he has already made concessions to the ACLU, and they haven’t given a lot back in return, so either way I think the ordinance will err much more to the side of the constitution.”

Hertz said there are strong views on both sides of the panhandling issue.

“They may seem minor, but many people see them as big issues,” Hertz said. “Especially when it comes to protecting the peoples’ constitutional rights, as well as protecting downtown business owners’ property rights.”

The council will hear more debate in committee, and eventually bring the issue to another public hearing, and then a vote.

“I’m not exactly sure where things will land and I think it’s probably going to be a close call on the council vote,” Hertz said.

Ward Two City Councilor Adam Hertz

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