An ordinance aimed at curbing “aggressive and unsafe soliciting” was approved for first reading by the Westminster City Council Wednesday night. The council voted 5-0 in favor of the measure, which will come back for a second reading and adoption on June 28. It would go into effect 30 days later.
The ordinance seeks to address issues such as people soliciting money – what might be called panhandling – near an automatic teller machine or outside a bank or credit union. “Interactions like these create a significant opportunity for confrontation that can quickly escalate into an unsafe situation,” according to a staff report written by Assistant City Manager Chet Simmons.
Specifically, the new law would prohibit soliciting within 15 feet of an ATM or the entrance to a financial institution. It would also ban people from soliciting from, or following closely, a person after they had said “no” to a request for money.
Additionally, the ordinance would prohibit using a center median on certain heavily-traveled streets as a location for solicitation of money. Those streets designated in the ordinance would be Beach Boulevard, Magnolia Street, Brookhurst Street, Goldenwest Street, Garden Grove Boulevard, Westminster Boulevard, Bolsa Avenue and Edinger Avenue.
Also, people walking onto the street to solicit those in a vehicle may not do so unless that vehicle is parked.