City Beat

Salt Lake City Leaders Discuss Panhandling Problem

Salt Lake City leaders are in the midst of discussions about the growing problem of panhandling. Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jason Mathis says several downtown business owners, social service agencies and Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank met earlier this week to discuss panhandling laws, how to help stop it and what services are available to those in need.

(KCPW News) Salt Lake City leaders are in the midst of discussions about the growing problem of panhandling. Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jason Mathis says several downtown business owners, social service agencies and Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank met earlier this week to discuss panhandling laws, how to help stop it and what services are available to those in need.

“We want downtown to be a place where everyone feels safe, feels comfortable, where we are protecting free speech rights and we think there is a balance that can be struck there,” Mathis says. ” It really comes down to education.  It comes down to letting people know how to handle situation appropriately.”

Salt Lake City Councilman Luke Garrott, who represents downtown, also attended the meeting.  He says the most beneficial part of the discussion was how to handle aggressive panhandling. But, he says don’t plan on a law or ordinance to put a stop to the problem.

“I did not sense in the meeting yesterday that a legislative solution was being sought so I am not expecting that from the community and I am not expecting that from the Council either,” Garrott tells KCPW.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker proposed an aggressive panhandling ordinance to the city council in 2010, but it was never passed.  A statewide anti-panhandling law was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge last month.

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