By Kiera Morgan:
During a recent work session the Newport city council heard a report from police chief Jason Malloy regarding panhandling in the city. The police chief also recently spoke about the issue to the Newport Chamber. He pointed out that panhandling is not a crime, it is considered freedom of speech. He also pointed that he has gotten some complaints from business owners of people loitering around, which could deter customers. In 2016 Newport police arrested 65 people for trespassing and gave business owners tips to make their property less desirable to hang out on and adding cameras and make it more visible to police.
He gave the council a proposed ordinance to consider that is similar to what has been done in other areas, including Lincoln City to try to curb panhandling. “People who are stopping to transfer money are tying up traffic or people are stepping into the road.” Malloy added “We have also gotten several complaints of panhandlers getting more aggressive and actually going into traffic. This ordinance, while it prohibits it also gives us an enforcement action instead of just giving someone a warning.”
The proposal would be to make an ordinance that prohibits the transfer of money or goods from a vehicle to a pedestrian. This approach is based on safety. This will help especially with high traffic areas such as Hwy 101 and 20 at 101 and 20th street and on 25th next to Walmart and Taco Bell. In Roseburg, where this ordinance is in affect, they let the panhandlers know that they have a right to be there but if anyone hands them something from a vehicle, they too can get cited and found that they moved on. The council will be holding a public hearing on this matter later in October.