Calif. judge: Much of town’s panhandling ban is unconstitutional
ARCATA, Calif. — A judge says a Northern California coastal city’s law banning non-aggressive panhandlers within 20 feet of stores, intersections and parking lots is mostly unconstitutional.
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale A. Reinholtsen released his ruling yesterday, saying the ban can only be enforced near unenclosed ATMs and on public transit vehicles.
The college town 280 miles north of San Francisco has long has been a magnet for vagrants who beg for money, booze or pot. The anti-panhandling law was passed two years ago.
The Los Angeles Times quoted from Reinholtsen’s ruling: “Arcata may not restrict solicitation merely because it makes people uncomfortable. To put it simply, speech rights prevail in a public forum (e.g., public parks, streets, etc.) in the absence of unique circumstances.”