Roseburg is considering a new tact on stopping roadside sign-wielding panhandlers. The idea is to make such activity (which has been fiercely protected by the courts as freedom of speech) a threat to public safety.
Here is a blurb from the local paper:
The City Council is considering an ordinance to make it illegal, punishable by a $75 fine, to conduct car to pedestrian transactions in the roadway when the vehicle is not parked or pulled safely to the side. The fine will target persons in the roadway, most likely someone in an automobile who holds up traffic to hand out cash.
“These people, they live in Roseburg,” said Councilor Susie Osborn at Monday night’s hearing on the ordinance. “They’re not getting lunch money. They’re going right to the nearest store to buy beer. It’d be different if you were helping them, but you’re not.”
Police Chief Mark Nickel said the ordinance was not designed to police solicitation, which is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution.The reason for the ordinance, he said, is public safety. The panhandler cannot even be cited unless he or she steps into the roadway.
Is this still protected speech or a publci safety issue?