OUR VIEW: Continuing the conversation on poverty

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

A panhandler sits on the drive at the Crossings near Bonita Lakes in October. The Meridian City Council voted Tuesday night to approve two ordinances to address panhandling.

Readers Poll: Panhandling ordinances in Meridian

What is your opinion of the panhandling ordinances approved by the Meridian City Council Tuesday?

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The Meridian City Council voted Tuesday night to approve two ordinances to address panhandling, a subject of concern for some local business owners who visited city hall in recent weeks.  

“This has been a systemic issue we’ve been facing citywide, whether it be on Frontage Road or businesses in general,” said Chief Administrative Officer Richie McAlister. 

The first ordinance bans aggressive panhandling, which includes following or blocking a person, using abusive language, making unwanted physical contact or using fear or intimidation, according to Meridian Police Department Capt. John Griffith. 

Someone panhandling under the influence of alcohol or drugs also meets the definition of aggressive panhandling, he said.  

The ordinance makes it unlawful to panhandle on private property or at a business without permission. 

A business or private entity may place a sign that states, “No panhandling of any type permitted. Such conduct is prohibited by city ordinance Sec. 16-52.5(b),” Griffith said.  

If an officer sees someone not complying with the sign, they can charge the person, according to the ordinance. 

A second ordinance makes it unlawful for a pedestrian to pass any item to someone in a car on the road or for anyone in a car on the road to pass an item to a pedestrian. 

“The reason this is needed is for safety and for traffic flow,” Griffith said.

“This is something that’s been talked about at multiple work sessions, some things that business owners and other community people had concerns about and we heard them and the council heard them,” Mayor Percy Bland said, following the meeting. 

Bland said there is some flexibility for certain organizations and agencies to get permits to allow them to solicit funds. 

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