With a busy weekend coming up in downtown San Antonio, police are clearing out panhandlers and saying the anti-panhandling ordinance works. But visitors are still having run-ins.
Bobby Pentecost and his family are visiting from Houston, and he said he was confronted by an aggressive panhandler on the River Walk.
“He made me feel bad. He was calling me names and things like that when I didn’t give him the money," Pentecost said. "Sorry, I didn’t have the money.”
Pentecost said he met the panhandler in a parking garage stairwell near Navarro and Crocket streets.
Business owners said the ordinance has been in effect for less than a month but has made a big difference.
The new law targeted groups like the Chaplains Corp -- people who were uniformed who would hold a bucket tp solicit donations for the homeless.
"The money was not going to any kind of homeless shelter or to a nonprofit," said Ben Brewer of the Downtown Alliance. "It was basically going to pay for their living expenses."
Brewer said the best thing to do is to use the Haven for Hope meters spread throughout downtown. And even paying these meters can bring on the drama, he said.
"Those folks were saying, 'You don’t need to put your money in there. Just give it to us, we’ll give it to Haven for Hope.’ Of course, they never gave their money to Haven for Hope,” Brewer said.
This weekend will be the first big test for the new panhandling ordinance with the Alamo Bowl and New Year's Eve on the event agenda.