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Panhandling ban in city parks?
Manteca leaders want aggressive solicitation stopped
Panhandlers are increasing in numbers in Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca is exploring whether the city can outright ban solicitation of all types in Manteca’s 54 municipal parks.

City Attorney John Brinton is working with Police Chief Nick Obligacion to see if it is constitutionally legal to draft such an ordinance for the City Council’s consideration. Such an ordinance would give police additional tools to address transient issues at Library Park and other municpal parks.

The research is the result of a council directive to address a growing number of citizens’ complaints about aggressive panhandling at parks, several gas stations, and elsewhere in the city.

Several years ago when aggressive solicitation became an issue at intersections with traffic signals in commercial districts, the council passed a similar outright ban.

Several council members at the time wanted to make it apply just to beggars and not non-profits such as firefighters that were “passing the boot” seeking donations for various charities from motorists stopped at red lights. Research, however, indicated courts upheld laws regarding banning begging for money at such locations only if they applied to everyone and not just the homeless.

A proposed amendment to city ordinances to ban solicitation in city parks is expected to be considered by the council at the July 2 meeting.

Currently when aggressive solicitation is reported, an officer responds and contacts the reporting party. If the reporting party only requests counseling, the subject is advised they could possibly be in violation of the law and are told the consequences. If prosecution is desired, a citizen’s arrest is initiated and the subject is arrested

Officers observing any prohibited solicitation — aggressive or otherwise — have the option of enforcing the ordinance.