Atlanta passes ordinance aimed at cracking down on panhandlers

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta has approved a new ordinance aimed at cracking down on panhandlers.

Under the new, more stringent rules, panhandlers must stop once they are told no by the person they are soliciting for money. Repeat offenders could face community service or jail time.

“Visitors and residents must feel safe in our city at all times,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a news release last week announcing his support for a revised ordinance. “Regulating panhandling in an enforceable manner is vital where we have an active, thriving tourism and convention industry. But simply adding punitive provisions to an unworkable law does not accomplish that goal.”

The new ordinance would ban panhandlers from soliciting money within 15 feet of ATMs. The new regulation does not outline any tourist area, according to the city.

According to a release from the mayor’s office:

  • Like the 1996 and 2005 commercial solicitation laws, the pending legislation outlaws monetary solicitation within 15 feet of locations where people feel intimidated when someone asks them for money, such as at an ATM machine or at a parking lot pay box.
  • Like the 1996 but unlike the 2005 commercial solicitation laws, the pending legislation makes it illegal to monetarily solicit someone who is within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit, or is standing in line to enter a building or event facility.
  • The legislation re-defines monetary solicitation so that it applies to all commercial solicitation performed by anyone. This ordinance does not target specific types of commercial solicitation performed by certain city residents.
  • The legislation applies equally throughout the City. There are no special provisions for tourist areas.


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