Portland City Council To Address Panhandling

PORTLAND (WGME) — Portland city councilors voted Tuesday night to move forward a proposed ban on panhandling in city medians.

The City Council voted down a similar ban last fall. Since then, there have been a rising number of complaints over panhandling across the city. Officials believe this causes an unsafe situation for pedestrians and drivers.

Some residents have reported panhandlers approaching vehicles even when they have a green light, causing cars to suddenly stop in the middle of the road to give money. This practice has nearly causing accidents involving the cars behind them.

City councilors say the issue has been mulled over in police department discussions and neighborhood meetings. They say the panhandling issue is spreading past the usual hot spots like Deering Oaks and along Marginal Way.

Begging in the median is now happening on Forest Avenue, West Commercial Street, and Brighton Avenue.

City councilors say that they want the ban, not because of the panhandling itself, but because it is a public safety issue.

The ban would only apply to panhandling on medians. It will not ban begging outright. The amendment states that the median strips can only be used when crossing from one side of the street to the other.

The full City Council is expected to vote on the proposal next month.