Posted: Nov 28, 2012 6:55 PM by Siera Santos, firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: Nov 29, 2012 8:04 AM
A ban on solicitation will prevent people from asking for money in downtown Colorado Springs. But it doesn't just apply to the homeless. Salvation Army bell-ringers and Girl Scouts selling cookies won't be allowed to stand on street corners.
But it's not as easy as voting on the ordinance and then issuing tickets. It first has to be signed-off by the mayor and city council president, which means it probably won't go into effect until the second week of December.
Meanwhile, the Downtown Partnership and Colorado Springs police are trying to educate businesses and concerned citizens.
The city will consider licensing street musicians.
"Street performers are different. We're not panhandlers. We're performing on the streets," says James "The Flute Player" Binder.
Musicians like Binder won't be permitted to perform for money under the "No Solicitation" ordinance. However, activities like street preaching fall under protection by the law.
"The law has segmented kinds of speech so political speech, religious speech... that can't be restricted. But commercial speech, so people asking for donations, that can be restricted," said Rachel Beck, a spokesperson with the Downtown Partnership.
As for signs advertising outside of shops and restaurants, businesses will have to get a permit, but that's nothing new. Sandwich boards have always been regulated as temporary signs.
Although it will be illegal to ask people for things of value, citations won't be given out immediately. Colorado Springs Chief of Police, Pete Carey, said education and awareness are immediate priorities. Then, warnings will be issued for four weeks and solicitors will be entered into a database.
"If we contact them again soliciting downtown or receiving complaints about them, we'll serve and release them a summons for doing it," said Carey.
CSPD doesn't plan on adding resources to monitor the zone. The Homeless Outreach Team and foot-patrol currently assigned to the area will uphold the new law.
"My hope is that it makes people who shop and work downtown a little a more comfortable."
On Wednesday afternoon, the city announced soliciting donations on private property is not against the new law. The Mining Exchange Hotel has offered space for bell-ringers to collect donations.