Port Orange, FL - The Port Orange City Council took the first steps towards putting an ordinance regarding panhandling into effect. The ordinance was approved on first reading during a special meeting on the issue yesterday (January 21).
Chase Tramont, District 2 Councilmember said the issue of panhandling has gotten exponentially worse since Daytona Beach put their ordinance in place in February 2019. He said that many Port Orange residents are not used to experiencing the aggressive panhandling that's happened in the recent past. He says it's important to make the distinction between homeless people and panhandlers. "Not all panhandlers are homeless and not all homeless are panhandlers so this strictly has to do with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of our residents and our business community."
You're still permitted to panhandle in 98 percent of the city, according to the mapping. Tramont said panhandling is a form of free speech and protected by the First Amendment. The ordinance is to protect people from the aggressive panhandlers who won't take "No" for an answer. "It's the aggressive panhandlers that have caused a lot of fear and intimidation to some of our most vulnerable population. I can't tell you the amount of countless complaints of harassment, intimidation, and fear used by panhandlers."
Tramont says that the new ordinance is meant to protect all parties, including the first amendment rights of the panhandlers and individuals who just want to walk on the sidewalk, go into a grocery store, or going to their car without being harassed and intimidated.
The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for February 9th at 5:30 p.m. Tramont says he fully expects the ordinance to pass at that time and it will go into effect immediately.