Panhandling is an ongoing problem throughout our city, particularly in Downtown Dallas. This type of public nuisance detracts from our efforts to create a safe, vibrant, livable Downtown. Residents tell me panhandlers make them feel unsafe, while business owners tell me they’ve lost customers as a result of aggressive soliciting.
After working with the Downtown Dallas Association, I’m pleased to report that today the city council voted to prohibit panhandling in Downtown, Uptown, Victory, and Deep Ellum. (We couldn’t make the ban citywide because courts have concluded that soliciting money is protected by the First Amendment, so the government must have a compelling reason to infringe on such a basic right. Here, we’re trying to protect the region’s economic engine, Downtown Dallas.)
The city’s current panhandling ordinance prohibits pandhandling anywhere in the city after sunset, prohibits aggressive panhandling anywhere in the city at any time, and prohibits solicitation near locations where citizens could have cash, such as near ATMs, parking meters, banks, fuel pumps and car washes.
The amended ordinance will prohibit panhandling anytime of the day or night in the core Downtown area, including the Central Business District, Victory, Uptown and Deep Ellum. Solicitations in these high tourist, high pedestrian areas hinder the city’s goal of promoting tourism, pedestrian traffic, residential development and economic development.