OPINION | Barry Richard: Regulate Vagrants and Panhandlers
Durango, Colorado is taking steps to deal with vagrants and panhandlers that threaten the city's tourism and business districts. The Durango City Council has voted to ban sitting or lying on busy downtown sidewalks, curbs and other public areas.
The Durango Herald says the ban will be enforced between 7 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. The paper says the rule, which will go into effect this summer, also "prohibits sitting or lying down on streets, railways, alleys, parking spaces or other publicly owned property used for pedestrian or vehicle travel."
Councillor Dick White tells the Herald the rule will improve the atmosphere downtown, and protect the safety of residents and tourists. White denies the rule, which was approved unanimously, targets panhandlers. “People can stand with a sign on Main Avenue all day long and they are absolutely within their First Amendment rights,” White said.
The paper says," the ordinance does not apply to anyone experiencing medical emergencies, downtown visitors with disabilities, children in strollers and those attending parades, festivals, performances or other special events. Residents are also allowed to sit on furniture installed by the city or a business."
White says the new law is based on laws enacted in Colorado Springs and Tempe, Arizona that have withstood legal challenges.
In New Bedford, we place cobblestones to keep beggars from accessing highway median strips for their own protection and we hear it from the boo-hoo society.
New Bedford residents and visitors to our downtown should not be greeted by bums lying around, urinating in alley ways or harassing them for money. Posting signs won't stop the problem.
Why can't we have creative leaders like they have in Durango, who put the interests of their citizens, businesses, and visitors ahead of the riffraff?
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.