Bakersfield City Council decides to table aggressive panhandling ordinance in order to review

Would affect downtown area

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A proposed ordinance would criminalize aggressive panhandling in the downtown area.

City Council officials could change Bakersfield's current solicitation laws, hoping to reshape the downtown culture by banning "aggressive" panhandling and solicitation.

The ordinance was read for the Council's consideration at the meeting Wednesday night, and they have voted to table the proposed ordinance to take more time to review it.

WATCH IN-DEPTH STORY | City Council considers making panhandling and 'aggressive' soliciting a crime

The proposed ordinance would identify panhandling and aggressive soliciting as knocking or tapping on a window, or reaching inside a car.

If this ordinance passes the City of Bakersfield would consider this form of soliciting and panhandling a crime.

It is not clear how strongly the ordinance would be enforced by police.

"These are a low priority call," said Ginny Gennaro, Bakersfield City Attorney. "This crime must occur in the presence of a police officer."

Some downtown businesses are welcoming the potential crackdown.

The Downtown Business Association said the goal behind this proposal is to prevent people from giving out money to panhandlers.

The DBA encouraged people donate money to an organization that is geared toward helping people find jobs.

READ RELATED | City Council considers making panhandling and 'aggressive' soliciting a crime

Panhandlers said it is how they survive.

"All we're doing is asking for work," said Brian Fontville. "Beyond that, we're not trying to steal cars, rob anyone. We're not putting anyone in danger."

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