GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL SCRAPS PANHANDLING LAW... AND TRIES TO RUSH 3 NEW ORDINANCES THROUGH THAT
BREAKING NEWS: GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL SCRAPS PANHANDLING LAW...
AND TRIES TO RUSH 3 NEW ORDINANCES THROUGH THAT THE PUBLIC HASN'T HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT - WITHOUT PUBLIC INPUT!
On July 24th, 2018, Greensboro's City Government is set to vote on 3 whole new ordinances which the public has heard nothing about so far.
Greensboro's City Council has discussed panhandling, or "aggressive solicitation" ordinances ad nauseum for the past 6 months, but the city will not be voting on any city-wide "panhandling" restrictions on July 24th. Instead, they will be debating and voting on 3 different ordinances, which have not been released for review until now.
The Council was expected to review relevant data compiled by the police department concerning panhandling/solicitation, and any suggested language changes to the beaten-to-death aggressive panhandling law ordinance during a work meeting on Tuesday, July 17th, but at the request of the city manager's office, the meeting was cancelled. City Attorney Tom Carruthers instead emailed the city council the new ordinance(s) and police data, but the date for the vote is still set for July 24th at 5:30pm.
City Council is not expected to discuss the proposed ordinances until that day, and the city has yet to release the new language in any public manner.
The Homeless Union of Greensboro caught wind of the city's scheme and asked for copies of the new ordinance today. Proposed ordinances and police data studies fall under the public records law, hence, we were able to obtain the new ordinance language and share it with the community today. However, the city had no known plan to share it with the public prior to July 24th.
Under the threat of litigation concerning Panhandling restrictions (Panhandling Ordinances are unconstitutional because they violate First Amendment Rights), the City hired Parker Poe, a large law firm out of Raleigh, North Carolina to draft a new ordinance to "address safety concerns" downtown related to panhandling. Parker Poe and the city held 5 public forums to solicit evidence of safety concerns related to panhandling, but instead got overwhelming testimony that people didn't want to criminalize homelessness or panhandling.
But the law firm was hired to do one thing - and one thing only - make something illegal in Greensboro....So like throwing spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks, they came up with three whole new ordinances:
Sec. 18-44. - "Blocking or Impeding Street and Sidewalk Access."
Sec. 18-46.1 - "Solicitation in Public Parking Garages and Public Parking Lots Prohibited."
And, Sec. 18-46.2. - "Harassment in Public Spaces Prohibited."
Without much time to review these ordinances, the Homeless Union of Greensboro has already found many troubling aspects to the proposed legislation: For instance:
The Harassment Ordinance is limited to the central business district (surrounded by the greenway) and does not apply to the whole city. If this law were about public safety and not tourism, it would apply to the whole city.
The Proposed Harassment Ordinance mirrors the language of unconstitutional panhandling laws when referring to "harassment".
The Harassment ordinance lowers the bar for harassment so people can be charged with a crime when they haven't done anything beyond talking to another human being. This is an obvious due-process concern.
The language of the "Blocking or Impeding Street and Sidewalk Access" ordinance is duplicative of other existing laws and unconstitutionally broad and vague at other parts.
All three of these laws are thinly guised attempts to criminalize homelessness - they are not about public safety.
The Homeless Union of Greensboro will continue to fight against laws that specifically target Homeless People and aim to move "certain types of people" out of public space.
We need solutions to homelessness and poverty, not more criminalization.
Voting on laws they haven't had time to read....
Contact the City Council and tell them to stop rushing into laws the community knows nothing about.
Mayor's office - 336-373-2396
Mayor Nancy Vaughan
Councilwoman (2) Goldie Wells
Mayor Pro-Tem Yvonne Johnson
Councilman (3) Justin Outling
Councilwoman (at large) Marikay Abuzuaiter
Councilwoman (4) Nancy Hoffman
Councilwoman (at large) Michelle Kennedy
Councilwoman (5) Tammi Thurm
Councilwoman Sharon (1) Hightower
City Manager Jim Westmoreland
COME TO CITY COUNCIL NEXT WEEK AND TELL THEM TO STOP TRYING TO CRIMINALIZE HOMELESSNESS TUESDAY 7/24 @ 5:30pm 300 E Washington Street
THE COMMUNITY WON'T BACK DOWN: WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO SURVIVE AND NOT BE CRIMINALIZED
We, the Homeless Union of Greensboro are comprised of the homeless community and those who support our cause. We are committed to addressing issues that arise from experiences of homelessness based on the priorities of people experiencing homelessness themselves. No longer will we sit idly by while others make decisions affecting our ability to live and thrive in this city. We have a voice, and a face, and we insist on having a seat at the table when decisions are made which affect people experiencing homelessness in Greensboro and Guilford County.