Bakersfield City Council approves an ordinance outlawing aggressive panhandling

Bakersfield city leaders have voted on a new ordinance impacting downtown businesses.  With a 7-0 vote, the city approved a plan outlawing aggressive panhandling and making it a misdemeanor.

Panhandling is a practice many people have grown used to as they visit their favorite spots around Bakersfield.

"I'd say downtown and like around big department stores," said Angel Garcia of Bakersfield.

But begging for money will soon be against the law.

"If its aggressive, then yeah it's a good thing for the city, very good," said Marie Pacheco of Bakersfield.

The Bakersfield City Council voted to outlaw aggressive soliciting, banning it near banks, ATM's, credit unions, and in parking lots and structures after dark.

"The Downtown Business Association has taken this on as its project because they hear from all their business members.  The DBA, as well as the Chamber of Commerce are there to listen to the business community and try to create the best possibility for success.  No one wins if a business goes out of business," said Bakersfield City Councilmen Terry Maxwell, who represents Ward 2.

Several business owners say panhandling drives away customers.

"The aggressive panhandling is very annoying," said Jerry Baranowski of Jerry's Pizza.

They say it makes people feel unsafe and is not welcoming.

"I would come certain time of the day, even in the evening and I do not feel very comfortable," he adds.

As soon as the ban goes into effect, store owners are betting on better business.  Many plan on posting signs on their front doors.

"I think it's probably the most impact that a business owner can have, short of going out and telling people doing the aggressive panhandling that it is a new ordinance and you're not allowed to do it anymore so please move along," said Maxwell.

Under the new law, panhandling will also be banned from medians and public transit.


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