Kennewick says no to panhandling

Kennewick says no to panhandling
KENNEWICK, Wash. - "It's a mess, it's a mess and you've got all this busy traffic," said Tabby Carlson.

She isn't the only one to notice the problems on the corner of highway 395 and Clearwater Avenue, by a busy Starbucks.

Tabby's business sits close to an intersection that's now off-limits to panhandlers. Kennewick will begin enforcing the new rule next week.
For Tabby, the new ordinance has been a long time in coming.

"Absolutely, there's a lot of people that walk the streets. More homeless and whatnot out through here especially when it's nice," she said.

This is why Kennewick wanted to take action on the problem before the weather gets really nice and more people stake out their corners.
The city sees it as a safety issue.

Trying to get spare change or donation here is like a deadly game of Frogger.

The new law prevents people from being hanging close to the intersection. Panhandlers can't come closer than about the length of a football field to the area of highway 395 at the Clearwater and Kennewick Avenue intersections, also Columbia Drive and Washington Street.

Knocking on car windows or any other aggressive way of asking for cash automatically bumps this to a criminal offense.

Officials are clear the new law only applies to these streets.

Evelyn Lusignan with Kennewick said, "There's still plenty of areas that people can legally solicit funds. We're just focused on those areas that are unsafe."

Along with the areas most traveled. It's cutting into the profits of solicitors as a means of keeping the streets safe for drivers.

Police plan to give out warnings before they give out tickets.

There's also a new rule about panhandling near an ATM or a bank on Columbia Center Drive. People can't ask for money any closer than 25 feet away.

KEPR reached out to Pasco and Richland to see if they plan to make any new regulations on panhandling. Both cities told us, not yet.