A series of stories in the Columbus Dispatch the week of July 17, 2017, reported the Columbus police have stopped enforcing panhandling ordinances in Downtown Columbus and the Short North because of a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that is challenging panhandling laws as unconstitutional and a violation of First Amendment Freedom of Speech. A Dispatch editorial and column by reporter Joe Blundo addressed panhandling myths and that it might be better to direct money to agencies that help people get off the streets for good.
Panhandling has no boundaries and residents often report seeing panhandlers in some of Dublin’s business districts.
Wise Up Columbus is an educational campaign, sponsored by the Downtown Columbus Capital Crossroads, aimed to dispel myths often associated with panhandlers and to encourage people to give money to organizations that are committed to helping people get off the street such as:
- Volunteers of America
- Faith Mission
- The Open Shelter, Inc.
- Homeless Shelters in Central Ohio
- Downtown YMCA
- HandsOn Central Ohio
Panhandling in Dublin
The City has received an increase in resident complaints recently regarding the presence of panhandlers in Dublin. Here is information you should know and share with your friends, neighbors and business associates.
- Solicitation, including individual panhandling, is a form of speech entitled to First Amendment protection. The City must recognize an individual’s right to solicit in accordance with their rights under the First Amendment, while at the same time ensuring that their conduct does not threaten their own safety or the safety of those being solicited.
- The City cannot prohibit passive panhandlers who are located in public places, such as sidewalks, and are not creating a safety concern or trespassing. All federal courts considering blanket solicitation prohibitions have found that these restrictions are not narrowly tailored to further any legitimate government interest.
- Panhandling is prohibited on highways – similar to code provisions in other Central Ohio cities, such as Columbus, Grandview Heights, and Grove City. The Ohio Revised Code also prohibits highway solicitation in R.C. 4511.51(b)(1).
- Most of the calls the Police Department has received in the past 16 months have involved individuals who are not speaking to or approaching anyone, but rather holding a sign.
- If panhandlers are on private property, law enforcement officers can still act in conjunction with the property owner to issue citations for criminal trespass.
- The City will continue to work on outreach programs addressing this community problem.
- What options are available to the City in response to the recent increase in resident complaints regarding the presence of panhandlers in Dublin?