San Antonio passes tougher panhandling restrictions

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by Brian New / KENS 5

kens5.com

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 18 at 8:31 AM

SAN ANTONIO - In a move to crack down on panhandling, the San Antonio City Council approved bigger fines and more restrictions on those asking for your spare change.

Near outdoor dining areas, parking lots and parking meters are now places where panhandling is not allowed.

Along with additional restricted areas, panhandlers must now be 50 feet way from those designated areas instead of the previous 25-foot boundary.

Also, the council voted to increase the fines for panhandling from a maximum of $200 to $500.

The San Antonio Police Department so far this year has issued more than 1,300 citations for panhandling.

"It's a huge issue for the tourism industry in this city," said San Antonio police Chief William McManus. "It's a huge issue for the people who live downtown. It's a huge issue for the businesses downtown."

McManus said the stricter revisions to the city’s ordinance will give his officers “an additional tool” to deal with aggressive panhandlers.

But while the changes are intended to keep panhandlers out of downtown, Roland Hernandez said he doesn’t think it will keep them away.

"They are just going to go further out,” Hernandez said. “You won't get rid of them. They will be out in the suburbs now.”

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