When panhandling first became an issue in Fairlawn, police Chief Kenneth Walsh did not require the panhandler to register at the city level. However, a new piece of legislation would require them to do so.
After receiving a growing number of complaints from residents, Fairlawn officials have drafted two pieces of legislation regarding the act of panhandling: one requires the person to register with the city, and the other regulates the act itself.
"People have been saying they feel uncomfortable in their cars sitting at intersections," Mayor William Roth has said. "Some of them are approaching the vehicles or are being aggressive."
The city cannot prohibit panhandling, said Law Director Edward Riegler, but it can regulate it.
The drafted legislation has yet to be approved by city council, but is modeled after legislation that Akron already has in place.
Here are a few highlights:
• A person cannot panhandle within 25 feet of:
- Any intersecting streets or crosswalks within the city
- Any street or driveway entrance to or exit from shopping plazas, shopping districts, commercial or business establishments, churches or public or private schools
- Any bus stop
- Any ATM or bank
- Any sidewalk cafe or outdoor cafe restaurant
- Any driveway entrance to or exits from an automobile service station
• A panhandler cannot act aggressively by touching the person being panhandled without their consent.
• A panhandler cannot block the flow of traffic on a public right-of-way. They cannot follow a person who walks away after being panhandled.
• A panhandler cannot act in a group of two or more panhandlers.
The registration legislation states the following:
• The person must be 18 years or older and have a driver's license or Ohio Identification Card. When applying the panhandler must provide two black and white photos of themselves.
• The panhandler must state whether they have a car.
• A person cannot panhandle in the city if they are a convicted felon.
The application fee for a panhandling license is $35 and the police department will perform a background check on the applicant.
"In the application, the individual must sign a statement similar to what the sign they will hold will say," Riegler added. "It's one way to get the truth. And they can only solicit for personal need, not for an organization."
Council President Russ Sharnsky and Ward 3 Councilman Bryan Nace said panhandling is one of the biggest complaints they get.
Last week, we There were 119 votes of which 57 percent said "They make me feel unsafe, but have never bothered me." Twenty-seven percent of you said the panhandlers had never bothered you, while 13 percent of you said they had acted aggresively by knocking on your car doors. Only 1 percent said they hadn't noticed.