The signs at the base of the off-ramps of Highway 99 at Yosemite Avenue spelling out the gist of the Manteca Municipal Code that prohibits panhandling within 100 feet of an intersection controlled by a traffic signal are routinely ignored.
And when authorities do chase off the offenders — or even issue a citation — the effectiveness is questionable given they can’t pay the fine and they just keep returning.
The signs are in place basically to remind law-abiding citizens this is not an area where it is wise from a safety or traffic movement standpoint to dole out money.
It not only backs up traffic given many times the light has turned green while a driver is pulling money out of his wallet but they make intersections more dangerous due to an added element that serves as a distraction.
The city should really revisit Manteca Municipal Code section 9.44.030 and insert language that allows law enforcement to also target those who defy a legitimate public safety rule — those who hand money to panhandlers within 100 feet of an intersection controlled by traffic signals.
Panhandling as an act of obstructing traffic that takes two to tango.
There is a reason the courts allows cities to restrict panhandling only at certain locales that meet a narrow list of concerns for public health and safety. The fact intersections are dangerous places even when people are paying attention and that even momentary backups for reasons of inattentiveness or being distracted can irk drivers behind said culprits and trigger impatient behavior.
It is why those who give money and such to panhandlers or those soliciting for whatever reason should be subject to $100 fines.
Besides, it makes more sense to go after those that are not only breaking the law but make it possible for others to break the law as well.
You get more mileage in terms of improving a community’s health and safety by prosecuting a meth dealer than you do meth users.
The same is true of panhandling at intersections. Take away the source of the fix and you stop giving panhandlers a reason to stand on traffic islands blocking views and being a step away from an accident.
If someone gets slapped with a $100 fine they are going to think twice about giving away cash at intersections controlled by traffic signals.
This doesn’t mean the city would be taking away your ability to participate in panhandling on city streets by sharing your hard earned cash to people you assume are simply down on their luck. Given there are 5,280 feet in a mile and 400 feet of no panhandling zones at each of the city’s nearly 60 signaled intersections, it simply means only about a half mile of pavement out of 400 plus miles of areas where panhandlers can fly their signs along city streets is off limits.
That is more than a reasonable accommodation for those feeling the need to undermine the concerted efforts by the City of Manteca and non-profits to address homeless and panhandling concerns that we all like to complain about.