Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County administrator open to keeping ban on panhandling

TAMPA — As the Tampa City Council continues to balk at tougher panhandling restrictions, Hillsborough County's top administrator indicated Monday that he is inclined to keep the county's ban in place.

County Administrator Mike Merrill is heading a committee crafting a panhandling ordinance for county roads and for those in Hillsborough's three cities: Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace. Merrill did not say what he will recommend, but said public safety is his top concern.

"No matter what configuration, no matter what option we come up with, that really does have to be at the top of the list," he said. "Jobs are important, economic development is important, but we would never put anybody at risk just to make a living."

Merrill hopes to present his recommendation at the Feb. 2 County Commission meeting.

Panhandling within 4 feet of the right of way on county roads has been banned since 1991. Six months ago, St. Petersburg passed a wide-ranging solicitation ban that encompasses newspaper hawkers and charities that solicit on roadsides.

The Tampa City Council has declined three times in recent months to enact a similar ban, citing the cost of enforcement and high unemployment. A petition drive to put the question before city voters failed last month.

At Monday's meeting of Merrill's committee, law enforcement officials said soliciting on roads is dangerous, regardless of whether the person is a panhandler, a firefighter collecting money in a boot or a vendor selling the Sunday paper.

"As long as you have anyone out in the street, you have a propensity for danger or injury," said Hillsborough County sheriff's Maj. J.R. Burton. "Isn't what we're hearing from taxpayers is they're tired of (panhandlers on the roads) and want a change?"

Other options floated at the meeting include requiring vendors and charities to comply with safety regulations or limiting solicitation to one or two days a week.

In addition to next month's proposal, Merrill said he will review a Sarasota program that sends intoxicated homeless people to mental health and drug treatment instead of jail. Sarasota County spent $3 million on the program, which Merrill said "is a big number for" Hillsborough in a tight budget year.

Lee Logan can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or llogan@sptimes.com.

Hillsborough County administrator open to keeping ban on panhandling 01/10/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 11:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hillsborough Democrats call Confederate monument vote a continuation of white supremacy

    Blogs

    TAMPA — Two days after Hillsborough County commissioners decided not to touch a Confederate monument in downtown Tampa, Hillsborough County Democrats have decided to weigh in.

    On Friday afternoon, Hillsborough County Democrats decried a vote by the county commission not to remove the Confederate monument in downtown Tampa.
  2. For starters: Ramus to DL, Peterson back, no further moves

    Blogs

    We were expecting a flurry of roster moves this afternoon and we got one. OF Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.

    Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.
  3. Editorial: Failure to invest in transit means fewer HART routes

    Editorials

    It was simple economics that forced HART, Hillsborough County's mass transit agency, to cut its bus routes. The agency will focus its resources on the more crowded urban core, limiting service in the suburbs in an effort to get more bang for the buck. These are the hard choices communities must make when they refuse to …

    Hillsborough Area Regional Transit is cutting bus routes from 41 to 34. Those in more rural areas will find it harder to catch a bus.
  4. Editorial: Senate bill sacrifices health care for tax cuts

    Editorials

    No wonder Senate Republicans drafted their health care legislation in secret. Beneath the surface, it looks no better than the House version that even President Donald Trump has called mean. This remains a massive tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the poor, the middle class and the elderly, and it would cost …

    No wonder Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, above, drafted their health care legislation in secret. Beneath the surface, it looks no better than the House version that even President Donald Trump has called mean.
  5. UberEATS expands to more cities within Tampa Bay

    Business

    TAMPA — UberEATS is expanding its service area in Tampa Bay. Starting today, users in Gibsonton, Odessa, New Port Richey, Riverview and Tarpon Springs can have food dropped off at their location.

    UberEATS is expanding its service area in Tampa Bay. [Courtesy of UberEATS]