Nov 14, 2012 1:00 AM by Eric Ross
COLORADO SPRINGS- Council members debated for nearly four hours Tuesday evening on a proposal to ban panhandling downtown.
Just before 9 p.m., council members voted 8-1 to move forward with the ordinance.
Residents from both sides showed up to voice their input about the potential ban, many of whom presented their arguments at the podium.
Between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., the council chambers was so packed, some residents were having to stand out in the hallway.
Council members did not address the panhandling ordinance until after 4:30 p.m.
A draft ordinance was presented back on Aug. 27 by City Attorney Chris Melcher.
He along with Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey have been working together on drawing up a solution to curb what they implied was a growing problem.
All council members except for Val Snider voted to move forward with the ban Tuesday night.
"It is a ‘no solicitation' zone that a lot of downtown business owners and residents alike have told us and our office that they are in favor of it," Hanna Parsons, interim director of Downtown Partnership said.
As many can imagine, residents opposing the ban weren't happy with the decision.
Resident Dan Kontoff asked, "Is being poor a crime?"
A final vote on the ordinance is scheduled for Nov. 27.
If passed, first time offenders will be warned by law enforcement.
A second offense will result in a city fine.
The Pikes Peak American Civil Liberties Union says they plan on filing a lawsuit if the ban is approved.