Expanding panhandling regulations to be debated by Augusta Commission

Richmond County

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It happens in Augusta, a stranger approaches and asks you for money. 

“Sometimes in a parking lot a parking lot like this, they’ll walk up but I just,” said Mary Holloway. 

“It’s scary though.”

“Yeah, it is,” she said.

A commission committee is scheduled to debate expanding the city’s aggressive panhandling ordinance, so it covers the entire city, not just locations downtown.

The regulations specifically make it illegal to panhandle people in their vehicles, a growing problem in Augusta.

There are so many crazy things going on in society today you can’t have people wondering up to your car you don’t know what they really want from you and unfortunately this day and age assume the worse,” said Richard Slaby.

Commissioner Dennis Williams supports the proposal.

“Coming out in the center of the street and panhandling and getting donations from drivers could be very unsafe,” he said.

But last month the University of Georgia Law Schools First Amendment Clinic and another rights group said the proposal to expand the panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional, and that is causing concern.

“According to the civil liberties if we pass this, we may be putting Augusta into a federal lawsuit,” said Commissioner John Clarke.

For 15 years, Augusta has had an aggressive panhandling ordinance but expanding it is facing a fight.

The Commission Public Services Committee is scheduled to take up the Panhandling ordinance at its meeting Wednesday. 

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