Amended pedestrian ordinance includes panhandling restrictions

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The Albuquerque City Council passed a new ordinance that will restrict where people can panhandle and where people can give money to them, but it has left many confused.

City Councilor Trudy Jones helped passed a bill Monday that sets rules on all activity near busy intersections, including panhandling.

Read: Amended ordinance passed by city council >>

“[We’re] trying to conform into what some of the federal government wants as far as traffic safety,” Jones said at Monday’s meeting.

Under the new ordinance, people can no longer beg for money at on and off ramps, which are some of the most common places for panhandlers. They also can’t be at big intersections with high traffic volume that has a median smaller than six feet wide.

Anywhere else, they can still beg for money but drivers can’t give them anything unless they pull over and park somewhere. That means, they can’t roll down their window at a stoplight and give someone a handout.

While many are excited the city is taking action, some say the new rules might not even make a difference; they say it tiptoes around the city’s panhandling problem.

“I think it’s a little bit confusing for people that live here,” said Jon Harnisch of Albuquerque.

“In my opinion, I don’t think it’s going to help anything. I think it’s just going to stay the same,” said Anton Green.

The city plans to put signs in restricted areas, but it’s unclear how soon that will happen because it’s dependent on money .

The ACLU had threatened to sue over the ordinance before it was amended, and they still may.

ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson released the following statement Tuesday about the amended ordinance:

“This ordinance is not about public safety, it’s about pushing poor people out of public places. Criminalizing poverty and homelessness is not only immoral, it does nothing to address the root causes of these societal problems. We believe this law may be unconstitutional, and the ACLU is currently examining options for challenging it.”

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