Jacksonville city leaders optimistic anti-panhandling ordinance will soon make an impact

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — City leaders are optimistic Jacksonville’s new ordinance aimed at cracking down on panhandling will soon start making an impact.

In a city council committee meeting Monday morning, councilmembers were told by JSO the agency has made no arrests directly tied to a new ordinance passed this year aimed at cracking down on panhandling.

“We’ve had some arrests for resisting with violence now, because they’ve been given a lawful command to cooperate and they haven’t, but that’s been minimum also,” said Chief Ellis Burns with JSO.


The lack of arrests comes as calls for service regarding panhandling have increased roughly 43% in Jacksonville since the ordinance went into effect.

We spoke with Joseph Kane, who was soliciting donations from drivers on Kings Avenue Monday afternoon. “I’d rather have food than money honestly, but every little bit helps,” said Kane. He said he’s noticed no impacts since the ordinance was passed.

“Usually, they just honk and shew me off and I come back,” said Kane. Councilmember Al Ferraro (R-District 2) championed the ordinance, which prohibits people from physically interacting with drivers on roadways and soliciting money while standing on medians.

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He explained the development of a permitting process for groups looking to legally solicit roadside donations slowed down the rollout of strict enforcement.

“People are upset. They feel unsafe at intersections, which I get it. I wish we could have done this a little bit quicker,” said Ferraro. That permitting process was completed in mid-May, and Ferraro said he’s hopeful the ordinance will now be able to work as intended, “We still have people on these intersections.

So, the community wants to see something happen. So, at this point, now that we have the permit process in, they got the signs, they got everything that needs to happen, now these warnings can really start going into effect and we can hopefully have some enforcement happening,” said Ferraro.

If you see what you believe to be illegal panhandling, especially on the median of a busy road, you’re asked to call JSO’s non-emergency number at 904-630-0500.

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