MLive is reporting that the City of Grand Rapids is once again looking to ban panhandling at intersections within the city limits.

According to MLive, panhandling used to be illegal in the city until a 2012 court case ruled the ban was in the wrong because it violated Freedom of Speech. Then in 2014, the city tried to pass another ban, but it didn’t pass.

So now, MLive reports that the new ordinance has been carefully worded to avoid violating the public’s right to free speech but also protects the health and safety of all.

First Ward Commissioner Dave Shaffer told MLive the city did a study of pedestrian crashes over the last decade and found that most crashes happen during the afternoon rush hour – between 5 & 7 pm – and happen in areas with speed limits of 25 mph.

Shaffer told MLive:

"What's been upheld and doesn't infringe on the spirit of free speech is if you limit it to time, place and manner as well as public safety," Shaffer said.

So the new ban would stop panhandling citywide from 5-7 pm weekdays and make panhandling within 30 feet illegal at 8 different intersections throughout the city which were identified as high-risk locations.  MLive says those intersections are:

  • 28th Street and Eastern Avenue
  • Cherry Street and Division Avenue
  • Fulton Street and Monroe Avenue
  • Fulton and Ottawa Alley
  • Lyon Street and Division
  • Lyon and Ottawa
  • Michigan Street and Fuller Avenue
  • Weston Street and Division

The city commission meets Tuesday, December 12th at 7 pm at city hall and will be discussing the proposed ban on panhandling.

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