Albemarle Bans Panhandling

At last night’s Albemarle Board of Supervisors meeting, they unanimously barred solicitations of contributions by anybody standing on public roads or in a highway median, Annie Johnson reports in today’s Daily Progress. After Charlottesville enacted such a ban a couple of years ago, beggars moved just outside of the city lines, working traffic on 29 N. and 250, on Pantops.

I wonder what this means for the fire department’s fundraising efforts? [Update: Turns out the firefighters can ask permission to carry on.]

Back in March, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission took a survey of the 175 homeless people in Central Virginia, finding that only 5% had ever panhandled.

12 thoughts on “Albemarle Bans Panhandling”

  1. This law should be appled to firefighters and charities as well as individuals. There are appropriate times and places for fundraising. The middle of a busy street at rush hour is not among them.

    There are few things in driving that are more obnoxious than being accosted by a rude person waving a bucket or boot and knocking at your car window when you are completely unable to walk away.

    I find it ruder among charities than among the homeless (or firefighters). With the homeless panhandler, you know what you’re donating for. This guy in front of you needs to get a bus ticket or a bottle of hooch or whatever. You’re clearly sponsoring whatever he’s got lined up for the evening. I’m ok with that. With the charity, there’s no opportunity to assess whether this is a legitimate organization with aims that are in line with your own values. It’s just some rude woman waving a bucket at you and aren’t you just an awful person if you don’t throw a dollar in right away.

    On top of all that, the clincher is really the safety aspect. The right to obnoxious free speech covers my above complaints. I agree with that right. But pedestrians always technically have the right of way. If people are allowed to wander around at will through busy intersections then you and I are liable if we hit them or roll over a foot. Their deliberate assumption of a foolish risk would carry little legal weight. This risk is the same whether the panhandler is a firefighter or a homeless man.

    Write a fat check for the fire department if you can and put it in the mail. But never encourage them with so much as a nickel in that boot.

    By the way, that statistic is certainly flawed. I know that I’ve been hit up for change by at least 10 different beggars in the last year. No telling how many of them were just passing through, of course. Or how many of them were homeless.

  2. I’d wager that the straw that broke the camel’s back on this was the Daily Progress article a few weeks back about the woman who drives up every day from Madison Heights to panhandle on 29N in front of Kroger/Lowe’s. There are people in Charlottesville who live in the woods and under bridges, but she’s not among them, and she’s the one who got the press.

  3. I am really surpise the county didn’t get to it FASTER. They have this hard on to make everything pretty. And having some homeless guy setting on the road asking for money isn’t that great on the eyes. I mean we have to follow regulations on signs, how trees are planted, how the grass is cut, and everything else to make Albemarle all nice and pretty. The homeless people need to be shoved under the carpet if we can keep our national ranking high.

  4. Meant to mention in my previous post, but to the extent that Jack was suggesting that the ordinance would better be applied to organizations than individuals, I agree wholeheartedly. We all know how to write a check to our favorite charity, and have no shortage of opportunities to do so. I therefore resent having some guy at a stop light accost me and stick a plastic bucket in my face with the expectation that I’m going to pony up, as happened to me just yesterday.

    Conversely, I don’t resent seeing some poor guy who appears to have had a crappy run at life asking for a helping hand, without any sense of entitlement. Even if it is for a bottle of hooch. It may make me a bit uncomfortable, but not resentful. And, as one who has not gotten the short end of the stick in life, a little discomfort of that sort every now and then is a good thing.

  5. i read in the c’ville weekly yesterday that the ordinance does apply to fundraisers as well. here’s the blurb…

    Wednesday, July 6
    County drivers forced to look at poor people no more

    [There was an excerpted blurb here, but I erased it. See below. -Waldo ]

  6. Please don’t copy and paste big chunks of text from C-Ville Weekly into the comments here. Copyright violation upsets them and so they call me and it becomes my problem, so I consequently often don’t often write about C-Ville Weekly stories, because it’s easier than having people be angry at me.


  7. sorry about that. feel free do delete my comment above.

    the last thing i wanted to do was entice people to read the c’ville weekly. i mean, if i were them, i wouldn’t want people drawing attention to my free, ad-revenue supported newspaper either. god forbid they get more traffic on their website and increase their readership because some blogger drew attention to their newspaper by violating a copyright on content that’s freely available on the internet and on newstands all over c’ville!

    sorry for the rant. i mean no disrespect to you, waldo, only to them. i just can’t believe they’d be such sticklers over that. no wonder all their talented staff left and formed the hook.

  8. sorry about that. feel free do delete my comment above

    That’s a good idea — I’ve done it. Thanks.

    Incidentally, it’s my understanding that the Safe Harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act now provides the operators of websites with the ability to remove copyrighted material from user-contributed content without crossing over the line from common carrier to editor. I’m not a lawyer, of course, but that sounds like a good tool.

  9. Screw the Cville anyways. The paper turned into 90% advertisements. All the stories are just reprints from the AP with a little liberal commentary. I mean there is just so many times you can bash Bush. Granted we do have 3 more years. The Cville is a snore. I only pick up to read the rants. Man, Cville has some pissed off people in here.

    I hope you don’t mind me bashing them. I always do.

  10. Erm, well, I’m not really looking for a C-Ville bashing fest. We had a heart few months of C-Ville/Hook bashing a few years ago, when the papers split. :) C-Ville is, after all, well within the law in wanting to protect their copyright.

  11. Even most of their cover stories are articles that they just bought from syndicate or whatever. Like it’s so hard to find good writers in this town?

    But yeah, the Cville is entitled to control what little of their content that they actually own.

  12. After seeing a panhandler standing at the barracks rd exit of 250 for the zillionth time, I decided to make a sign that says “I’m just lazy” and stand next to him. Then I reconsidered because he’d probably beat me up.

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