Colorado Springs to vote on restricting solicitor activity

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The City of Colorado Springs is looking to make changes to improve safety.

“If you don’t have no money or income coming in, this is the only way. ‘Cause it’s hard to find jobs these days,” said a panhandler who preferred to remain anonymous.

“Under the First Amendment in Supreme Court Case Law, panhandling and soliciting politically are protected speech, but the government has the right when dangers are posed by it, to restrict its location,” said Mayor John Suthers.

The panhandler tells FOX21 she stands on narrow medians, knowing it’s dangerous.

She preferred to remain anonymous.

“Just to get extra cash and stuff. There’s nothing wrong with extra cash, you know. Get some stuff that you need. Like, I need new shoes, it’s cold out,” she added.

Susan Cole says she makes $20 a day panhandling and often stands on narrow medians.

“Oh no, I feel no danger at all,” Cole said.

If the median ordinance passes, they’ll have to go elsewhere.

“If the speed limit’s over 30 mph, it’s a major, minor arterial, and there’s not at least four feet in circumference of flat surface where a person could stand, that activity would be prohibited,” Suthers said.

If solicitors are caught in restricted areas, they’ll face a fine of up to $500.

“No, no, no, no. Drinking in the park, you don’t even get caught with that much money,” Cole said.

“If they can’t pay a fine, then they can be given community service in exchange,” Suthers said.

FOX21 asked the panhandler who wished to remain anonymous what she would do if the ordinance passed. She replied, “Get a job, yeah.”

Suthers said panhandling has been a growing problem for the state of Colorado.

“There’s a study in the Rocky Mountain Hidta report that says the states with the easiest access to marijuana are the 10 states with the highest per capita rate of transients and panhandling,” Suthers said.

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