Miramar Leads the Way in Banning Panhandlers

Photo taken on June 27th. Panhandlers in Tamarac do not stay on the median.

By: Sharon Aron Baron

The Oakland Park City Commission agreed last Wednesday to have the city attorney draft an ordinance that would prevent people from collecting money in the public right-of-way.

Fort Lauderdale Police began enforcing their new ordinance in May which established no-panhandling zones in the downtown area, it also bans “aggressive” panhandling which includes repeatedly begging after being told no or approaching a person in a “threatening” manner. Violators would be charged with a misdemeanor and a possible $500 fine which could result 60 days in jail as well.

The City of Tamarac has a problem at intersections not only with panhandlers, but children collecting money for their schools.  Someone is going to get hurt with the way they dodge in and out of traffic on the streets.

On Thursday, while driving through the busy intersection of University Drive and Commercial Boulevard, there were children holding buckets panhandling for money. These children were walking throughout traffic and not staying on the medians. Last week, I witnessed the same thing at McNab and University Drive:  Children walking through traffic raising money for their travel football team with no adult in sight.

I brought this up to the city on Wednesday and was met with some interest, mostly skepticism from the commission. Mayor Talabisco said as a concerned parent, I should have contacted the children’s school.  Commissioner Harry Dressler said that banning panhandlers may impede on their constitutional freedom of speech.

This was taken today. An adult and two children carrying buckets were in an out of traffic on Commercial Boulevard. I don’t know what they were collecting money for.

City Attorney Sam Goren was aware of the news of Oakland Park as well as Fort Lauderdale’s ordinances and said that they are going to be monitoring the actions and pending proposals of the two cities. He genuinely was interested, however, he can only give recommendations as our Mayor and Commissioners would vote on any upcoming ordinances.

To see how a city has limited panhandling in their streets, Tamarac should look no further than the City of Miramar who successfully stopped all panhandling back in December 2010. What they did was not ban panhandling, but ban panhandling at certain intersections.

Namely, all the busy ones.

In effect, panhandling became unprofitable in Miramar and the street vendors moved elsewhere.

I spoke to Tania Rues, Miramar Police Department Public Information Officer who said that their Code Compliance Department brought the idea for the ordinance forward after several injuries including a death.

In 2006, a man selling newspapers was killed in a hit and run which remains unsolved. Several other people have been injured over the years due to panhandling at their busy intersections. Rues also said that there were children as young as 8-9 years old soliciting money for their athletic teams with very little supervision.

The ordinance was created as a safety measure so that there wouldn’t be any more injuries.

After the ban went into effect, there was a period of 30-60 days where the Miramar Police educated the public by giving out pamphlets to the panhandlers. After that, they gave out warnings and have never had any arrests since its inception in 2010.

The panhandlers soon moved on and panhandling has stopped in Miramar.

As far as the threats of a lawsuit by the Homeless Voice, those have been all talk.

There is hope for our city and the safety of children and street vendors. In a statement from the City Attorney’s office,  “The City may choose to consider this matter further as more information becomes available. In the meantime, we are studying the matter closely.”

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Tamarac Talk and Coral Springs Talk. Tamarac Talk was created in 2010 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Tamarac and to give resident's a forum. We are not affiliated with the City of Tamarac. That's why this site can be occasionally opinionated and obviously open.

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  • Richard J Kaplan

    We have an ordinance in Lauderhill that prohibits minors from collecting money from the roads. That has worked well for over 10 years.

    The issue that Miramar can be sued on is a worry. Years ago we considered something similar until our City Attorney pointed out a federal case from Cincinnati that said it was a violation of the 1st Amendment to prohibit newspapers from selling on the street. Maybe it could be regulated as Miramar has done, but that wasn’t explored at the time.

    • Richard, Pembroke Pines just enacted a ban just like Miramar. They are not out-right banning soliciting….just from major intersections. I may write a follow up on this soon.

  • Margate has had an ordinance for as long as I have lived here which is over 16 yrs. One day I was driving and there were the church people from Atlanta on the mediums, one phone call and poof they were gone. Even the firemen do not do the boot drive as far as I know. Now if we can just get the robo callers for those snipe signs…
    Le

  • Richard in Mainlands 6

    What I find baffling is that Mayor Talabisco and Commissioner Dressler should be more focused on recognizing that the Florida Statutes, specifically Title XXIII of The Motor Vehicles Section 316.001, sub-section 316.130, item (5) clearly states as follows: “No person shall stand in the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic for the purpose of soliciting a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle.”

    Now, I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me the State of Florida says it’s against the law to solicit monies in traffic lanes, yet that’s exactly what happens on a regular basis in Tamarac, the city I chose to make my home.

    I’d very much rather hear the Mayor and Commissioner explain to me why I have to be accosted at half the intersections I approach. I did not move here to have to endure this kind of behavior.

    I’d hope our elected officials understand that the voters detest the soliciting.

    I further hope they’d find it their responsibility to use our tax money to make our community safe and enjoyable for its citizens … if not, I’d hope they’d recognize its their responsibility to step down from office and allow those who have the conviction to uphold the laws of the state of Florida to do just that.

    Oh, and by the way … don’t even get me started on the lack of moving traffic violations that occur in our city without any semblance of enforcement. Turn right on red after a full stop??? Yeah, right!

  • John Brainard

    Hi. My name is John. I’m one of the guys you sometimes see in an intersection soliciting for a little help to get by. Please read on.

    I was born and raised in San Diego, Ca, and live there now. I’m a SD high School and SDSU grad. I served faithfully in the Armed Forces 6 years to help secure safety, liberty and our American way of life. After service in the Army, I worked full time in the same company for 12 years until the recession of 2008 when – along with many coworkers – I was laid off. Just before the lay off I invested 40K in a musical production which did not return. I also was helping an impoverished family with adorable tots get by – because I cared about their kids and didn’t want to see them homeless. Before all this adversity converged on me (all in 2008) I had three cars, a boat and 100K in the bank.

    I realize some of them out there might be but I am not an alcoholic, drug addict or career bum. I’ve just met with adversity in the last few years including a pit bull dog mauling which damaged nerves in my feet and legs. Some days the pain is not so bad; my disability is not enough to collect a check.

    I thought I would easily regain employment but good jobs are scarce, and I find myself competing with people half my age. You who look disdainfully at us “signers” do you really think we wouldn’t rather have a 9 to 5, air conditioned office job as say a CEO or Company manager, making 80 to 180k annually than humiliate ourselves begging? And know that but for the Grace of God it could have been you who meet with adversity and became desperate enough to do what you need to to get by.

    My sign reads: Ye Old VET
    needith help.
    Please, if you can,
    and may God Bless you.

    I’m non aggressive, I don’t harass anyone. no one is under any obligation to even look at me or my sign…and many don’t. I just walk on. Fortunately for me a few caring souls do help – I don’t get a lot but I get enough to get by. Thank you for reading my story.

    • Amy

      Dear vet your story touched me!! I too am in a hard place but I give every time I see a sighn my husband says we don’t have to give ( I use his latery ticket money) but I give anyway cause your right some people are not user an some are not educated like me to get or hold a job. Im from TN just moved to FL a year ago an I’ve never seen this before it breaks my heart. I give to same people all time. The way I see it god put us here to help each other so people need not judge or stick up there noses take that 1.60 for your duncan donut coffee an put it someones hat or bucket cause you never know when your going to wake up an have nothing. I hope god pours his blessings on you an you have a awesome day