Panhandling Ordinance Finds Support Among Flagstaff’s Downtown Businesses

Apr 4, 2014

Earlier this week, the Flagstaff City Council gave initial approval of an ordinance to stop aggressive panhandling. As Arizona Public Radio’s Parker Olson reports, many local businesses support the measure.

The ordinance outlaws many types of solicitation, including threats, touching without permission and soliciting anyone under the age of 16. One element of the measure has the support of local businesses. It would outlaw soliciting within 15 feet of any business. Jeremy Meyer works as a bartender in Flagstaff's historic downtown business district. He says that, if given final approval, the law would increase patronage.

“’Cause a lot of times people will be sanding outside the door, that entrance right there especially, panhandling and people will just be like no, no, leave me alone, and they’re off,” Meyer says.

Kiwon Choi, the owner of several downtown restaurants and bars, supports the law. He often donates and prepares food for local shelters. But, Choi says business is his top priority.

“I’m all for helping them out, but, end of the day, if it’s hurting my business it’s going to hurt them as well because if I don’t have the money to pay bills I’m not going to be able to donate money at the shelter,” Choi says.

The City Council will hold a final vote April 15 regarding the ordinance.