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Proposed Anti-Panhandling Law Supported By Wildomar

A proposed law that would prevent panhandling at intersections controlled by traffic signals has support from the City of Wildomar.

During the April 10 Wildomar City Council meeting, council members voted 4-1 to adopt a resolution in support of SB 604 authored by Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine). Anderson's 36th district includes the City of Wildomar.

According the bill's text, if adopted the law would "prohibit a person from soliciting, displaying, selling, offering for sale, or otherwise vending or attempting to vend any merchandise or service while being wholly or partly within an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal."

The bill was introduced Feb. 22.

Wildomar City Councilman Bob Cashman opposed the city's resolution, while the remaining council members said public safety is at stake because motorists who impede traffic to hand out money or otherwise converse with panhandlers are endangering other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and solicitors alike.

Two members of the public spoke on the issue during the meeting. Glen Peterson said he is a Wildomar resident who solicits motorists for work. He criticized the proposed bill saying it discriminates against the less fortunate.

"All I'm asking for is work," he said. "You people are denying my rights as a destitute person of the United States."

A woman who identified herself only as Ms. Miller argued solicitors don't impede traffic because they are not in the street but rather on roadsides.

"People don't distract from the traffic," she said.

Like Peterson, Miller identified with the less fortunate.

"I support the poor because I am poor," she said.

Councilwoman Bridgette Moore argued that solicitors do in fact impede traffic, and Mayor Pro Tem Marsha Swanson agreed, saying she has witnessed crashes caused by motorists who stop in the roadway to hand out money. She maintained that panhandlers can still solicit, "just stay out of the intersections."

According to Anderson's bill, "Existing law prohibits a person from soliciting, displaying, selling, offering for sale, or otherwise vending or attempting to vend any merchandise or service while being wholly or partly within any of specified places, including, but not limited to, the right-of-way of any freeway, including any on ramp, off ramp, or roadway shoulder which lies within the right-of-way of the freeway, or any roadway or adjacent shoulder within 500 feet of a freeway off ramp or on ramp. A violation of these provisions constitutes an infraction."

The bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing.

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