S.A. councilman seeks to stop ‘career panhandlers'

Outlawing career panhandlers in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO -- The problem of panhandling in San Antonio has been talked about for years, but one city councilman said enough is enough, the safety of too many people is at risk.

At the corner of South General McMullen and Ceralvo Street, a panhandler was hit crossing the street just a few days ago. District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher said panhandling isn't just unsafe for the panhandlers, but drivers as well.

"I am here to make money for my blood infection that I have going on," Jason said.

Jason cleans windshields for money at a parking lot near I-10 and Callaghan Road. He said he’s not technically a panhandler.

"It's not like I'm out here holding a sign saying, can I have for nothing. I'm actually giving them something, in return, they help me,” he said.

Because Jason is in a parking lot he doesn't create much of a driving hazard, which Councilman Gallagher said is a big safety issue.

"We've had plenty of cases and people have told me about how they've almost hit somebody who has jumped out in front of them,” said Councilman Gallagher. “People stopping, slamming on their brakes to give money or something to a panhandler and the people behind them having to slam on their brakes.”

"They stand on all sorts of street corners when you are stopped at traffic lights, and they want you to roll down your window to give the money," said Peggy, who refuses to give money to panhandlers.

Council man Gallagher said traffic hazards aren't the only problem.

"Small businesses have been concerned about panhandlers going up to their customers and scaring them off," Gallagher said.

What Gallagher wants to stop are what he calls ‘career panhandlers.’

"Vans drive them up and drop them off at busy intersections and then pick them up in the evening. We've got to do something about that," Gallagher said.

Councilman Gallagher will meet with the Governance Committee tomorrow to vote to approve his plan sending it on to the safety committee who would review his plan with the police shortly after. A big part of the plan is to ticket panhandlers and keep track of those who repeatedly get cited to identify career panhandlers.

(© 2016 KENS)


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