AUSTIN, Texas — In response to an outcry for more public input, Austin City Council has decided to postpone the evaluation of an amendment that, if passed, would ease the city's existing solicitation ordinance.
In a letter sent to council members on June 20, the Downtown Austin Alliance said it felt if the amendment were passed as is, it would result in an “increase in aggressive panhandling and intimidation.”
The alliance cited input gathered from visitors that reflects a concern about downtown safety due to aggressive panhandling already taking place under the existing ordinance.
The item that would have gone before City Council at its June 28 meeting would remove restrictions on soliciting downtown at night, within a block of grade schools and childcare facilities, on marked crosswalks, sidewalks, street highways and parks.
According to DAA, in his May 18 memorandum to City Council, the City Manager Spencer Cronk laid out a process that called for the ordinance to be open for review and public input at the June 4 Public Safety Commission meeting, which did not occur, preventing any further vetting.
“It is already legal for a person to ask another for money. We ask that you carefully consider the protection of those who live, work and visit downtown from intimidating and aggressive forms of solicitation, while also protecting the Constitutional right to free speech.”
On June 21, DAA confirmed that the city withdrew the item from the June 28 agenda to allow for more time for city staff to collect public input.
This is a developing story. Stay with Spectrum News for updates as they become available.