Capital city's renewed panhandling ordinance could be a model for Manchester
The Concord ordinance doesn’t prohibit anyone from holding a sign. But it prohibits anyone from distributing, receiving or exchanging any item with the occupant of a motor vehicle located in a public roadway.
Concord City Manager Tom Aspell said the ordinance has cut down on streetside panhandling.
“Once we explain it to people, they get it,” Aspell said. “It seems to be quite effective. Is it perfect? No. But as soon as we send an officer, people disappear.”
Howland said police and social workers estimate that nine out of 10 panhandlers use handouts to satisfy a drug or alcohol habit.
Concord passed the ordinance two years ago with a sunset provision. On Monday, the city council unanimously re-authorized it and removed the sunset provision, Aspell said.
“At least on the ordinance’s face, there’s less of a First Amendment concern,” he said. But his organization monitors Concord to make sure the ordinance is applied even-handedly and is not used to suppress free speech underhandedly, he said.
Aspell said the maximum fine is $500, but it would be up to a judge to decide how much to levy. No citations were issued against drivers, only panhandlers.