JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville City Council approved a bill that they said will help make roadways safer and what some believe will crackdown on panhandling.
The ordinance passed 16-3 and makes it illegal for someone to stand in the median of a roadway for an extended period of time and to physically interact with any car on the roadway that isn’t illegally parked. This doesn’t just cover the median either. It is now illegal to solicit from the sidewalk or any place near the road.
Councilman Kevin Carreco proposed the bill, and he claimed that this is not an attack on the homeless.
“This is not an attack on homelessness. It doesn’t outlaw panhandling in the city of Jacksonville,” Carreco explained, “It’s essentially a mechanism to keep citizens safer by regulating activities in the median in public right-of-way in our intersections where it’s dangerous.”
Violations of the law include a fine of up to $100 and an educational notice from the sheriff’s office.
Councilman Al Ferraro cosponsored the bill.
“It’s not about standing on the corner and using your First Amendment [right] …. You can still do that. None of that is being affected. This is keeping transactions from driver and person on the street from doing a money transaction,” Ferraro said.
Reggie Gaffney, Jr. of District 7, on the other hand, is one of three council members who voted against it.
“I think the timing is terrible …. We are on the edge of the post-pandemic, and I think a lot of people are homeless …. They need to be there on the corner. They don’t have a source of income. They don’t know where to get food at. Going to the corner is the only option,” Gaffney said.
Councilman Carreco’s team sent out a news release saying the ordinance was approved despite criticism and many mislabeling it.
Council members also said that they don’t want anybody to lose sight of the work that the council has done for the homeless population and believe that should be continued. They said they would continue to focus support on non-profits and other agencies who help the homeless community.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will now do a 30-day education period before the ordinance kicks in.
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