Panhandling ordinance reviewed

Panhandlers in Grand Haven might have to adhere to revised rules.
Krystle Wagner
Jan 7, 2014


City Council is reviewing the city’s current panhandling ordinance following a court case involving the city of Grand Rapids and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented two individuals who panhandled.

Grand Haven City Attorney Scott Smith said the recommended changes come after an appeals court found Grand Rapids’ panhandling ordinance denied freedom of speech. Smith said the ACLU recommended cities review and change their ordinances.

Grand Haven’s current ordinance states it’s unlawful for any person to accost, molest, beg, panhandle or willfully annoy another person. Smith said cities aren't allowed to blanket prohibit panhandling, but can regulate the behavior.

The recommendation adjusts the current ordinance and adds regulations about dangerous, offensive or misleading solicitation.

"We don't want the public to be scammed," Smith said.

City Manager Pat McGinnis said the city hasn’t had a great number of panhandling complaints.

He said the city wanted to take the time to review the ordinance so officials could have the right tools in place that don’t violate free speech, should the need arise.

When the city handles a panhandling complaint, McGinnis said the first approach is to find out what help the person needs, and how they can help.

The recommended changes would make it unlawful to solicit on private property, within 15 feet of an entrance or exit of a public restroom, within 15 feet of an ATM machine or pay phone, and within 15 feet of any transit stop.

Panhandlers also wouldn’t be allowed to mislead the public by creating a false statement, false visual statement, or omitting information that causes a misleading statement.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


Back to the Wall

Regulate it to certain areas, Industrial Districts for example, and require safety vests and barricades and steel toed boots for work in the rights of way.


I don't think they should be allowing it at all. There are places out there that will help you and will supply you with whatever it is the family needs. I've seen some people on the side of the street asking for help while they are talking on their Iphones... Really? I don't even own an Iphone. I really think they just need to eliminate it all together.


The problem is that your idea violates the U.S. Constitution, per court ruling from last year. Apparently as long as you are holding a sign or otherwise asking for something, it is protected free speech. I can't find a Constitutional argument against that.




Acouple months ago I see one of these guys you normaly see downtown GR. He was standing with a sign Robbins and 31. It pays to move around a little I guess. I am sure for some there is no other way, but for a lot of them this is a great way to get some beer money without haveing to actually work or be someplace on time. There is a little old lady in Chicago she walks up and down the gold coast mile pushing a shopping cart with a sign asking for help. Its been reported she lives in a multimillion dollar home a few blocks off the strip. Its been estimated she takes in easily over 100k a year, probably tax free. Beats workin for the man I guess, if you don't have a concience.


This best way to stop these people is not by passing a law agaisnt them. JUst the the stupid public stop giving them money. As long as you keep giving out hand outs they will still stand there. If everyone that drove past them would shout out their window get off the street and get a job. They would get the idea and either get a job or go to a different city to beg. Problem solved. But as long as stupid people give money for people not to work why should they work.


ohh, fixed THAT problem just like that! I say fixitman for Mayor! He can tell all the stupid people in GH what to do. Like 'go get a job'. lol. Sign guy could shout back, 'I'll take your job at half your wages!' There, problem solved.
Oh, man, I could go on, but I got a T-shirt from the better half that says 'more civil in 2014'.


Don't put it on man! Don't go to the dark side!

I just got one for my birthday that says "THINK!, it's not illegal yet." More of a head's up than humor, but no one can be funny all the time.


I was in Nashville, Tennessee a few years ago down on Music Row and noticed a sign in numerous merchant windows advising to never give anything to pan handlers. Apparently it must have worked because we didn't see a single soul anywhere down there pan handling but just a few blocks away in downtown was a different story.

It seems to me no law was needed but just some public education was deterant enough to get them to move on. Funny how it seems that most everywhere we see pan handlers is always in front of a commercial shopping district with help wanted signs posted at several businesses. Now isn't that ironic......or maybe just too difficult compared to making a few hundred tax-free dollars for holding up a sign about three kids and diapers blah blah blah? I have five kids so you're outnumbered!

I can't ever seem to find good people who want to work for our business. Could it be laziness or just too easy on unemployment to want any achievement in life? I guess that will remain a mystery while we continue working nearly 80 hours per week to feed our family.


While I am in no way sticking up for the fake panhandlers (I have no issue helping those truly in need, and actually go out of my way to do so), there are a couple things you should know about the places advertising 'Help Wanted'.

First, as a current job-seeker who, five months ago was shoved out of the workforce, I am findig that there is much discrimination against job seekers who are unemployed. Just last week I had a phone interview with a business owner in Grand Rapids. I felt the interview went great until he noticed the five month span without work. He then stated that they generally do not hire the unemployed. Many others have run into the same situation... Tell me how it makes any sense.

In addition to that, every place I have applied at (we are into the hundreds at this point) has either not given me the courtesy of a retun call; even after following up on my resume/application, has stated I am overqualified for the position, stated that I do not have the required professional experience; even though I have the skills (many want at least a bachelors, even in an unrelated field, and 5+ years experience in the same field), or even have stated that the position was a 'ghost' position and has been filled internally before it was even posted.

A lot of the places I have applied had 'help wanted' signs out front, and I have gotten the same thing. Companies everywhere saying they cant fill open positions, but at the same time refusing to bring on anyone but their 110% ideal candidate.

This is why I have taken the first steps in forming my own LLC and attempting to go into business myself. I am obviously still looking for a day job since starting a business can be daunting for the first few years (and I am not going to put all of my eggs into that one basket and fail like so many others). But if all goes well, I plan to transition from employee to employer. I plan on it mainly being a cottage industry, but as word gets out, hopefully it can become more of a full-time source of income.


I know this will be way down below the post, but is a reply to polarize. Apparently when you were in Nashville, you neglected to look up those laws they have on panhandlers. Seems they have a strict law against it everywhere except downtown, so it wasn't just window signs.
What the heck kind of business do you own that you can't find good employees? Why can't you find good help? Where are you advertising for help? A SIGN ON THE DOOR? And to own a business and think you wouldn't be putting in 80 hour work weeks to make it work, well, that would be plain ignorant wouldn't it.


Agreed. If he is advertising his job openings online, or prominently in public, doesn't have absurd requirements such as a masters degree and 6+ years experience for an entry-level position, and pays a livable wage (~$1,400/mo. net for myself), he has probably gotten a resume from me and I would have been an excellent employee.

It is just plain silly to think that as a serious business owner he would be able to work a normal work-week though; it just does not happen. Owning a business is a time-suck, and those that expect to own a business and only work 40 hours per week are either the type that start a business to get rich quick, or delusional.

I'm currently working on starting a small cottage industry dealing with custom bicycles and accessories, and even though I plan on it just being a hobby on the side, I realize it is going to take massive amounts of work on my end for the first few years.



Tri-cities realist

While I generally don't like run-on sentences, I have to agree with your thoughts on this one.


Haha, check out my run-on sentences above. While I have many valuable skills, grammar and punctuation is not one of them. I have been trying to get better, but after reading my own above post, I do not think I made much progress.


Are you the Sr. or Jr. gordbzz?




Yes. Window signs could have a heavy impact since they can get the message out and yet suggest that if someone REALLY needs help to contact a local church ministry or homeless shelter. Communicated in this manner educates the public from being possible victims of fraud, stops enabling the pan handling behavior, and communicates compassion for someone who might be truly in need.

The Tri-Cities has many programs available that can appropriately screen out true needs in the community such as Spring Lake Wesleyan and St Pat's food pantries, Love Inc provides for assorted needs, and Habitat for Humanity can assess low cost home building needs with responsible loan repayment. If you feel compassionate towards these folks then donate your money to organizations locally that make a real difference in people's lives while teaching healthy life skills. Accountability and education are much more effective than enabling needy negative behavior.


I always find it interesting that when people are in need they say they are Christian (a lot of signs with "christian symbols"), but the moment you try to study the bible with them or talk with them about God they are the first to reject.


I find it interesting that when people are in need,instead of helping them, you try to force your belief on them.


How is talking with someone who is supposed to be a "fellow believer" while helping them, "forcing" your beliefs?

Even people that go to the same church won't discuss their faith.


When the people of a nation demand MORE from their country then they are willing to give the nation crumbles. this is a perfect example to show how far this nation has fallen since "THE GREATEST GENERATION".
There are way too many who want to do nothing, give nothing back to society. They just want to consume and take handout's without giving anything back. This country makes it too easy for people to do nothing. We theoretically enable them to do nothing by giving them food stamps and SSI!? This is what the our Fathers and Grand Fathers fought for all those years ago when the fascist regimes were trying to wipe out our way of life? We let them down the generations that are coming of age today will never know the struggle many of those men endured before that war and they will never understand it. Nor will they ever understand how amazing it was for a nation to unify for a common cause and support it no matter what the personal sacrifice. We will never come together as a nation like that again until the collapse.

I fear for our nation. This country was at one point was the envy of all others a place where anyone could be anything if they just worked hard at it. Now we are a nation where everyone wants everything and they want to do nothing for it. It is hard to believe that just 70 years ago we were in the greatest struggle this WORLD has ever faced and this nation and many others rose up united to defeat a powerful enemy that was hell bent on the the destruction of our way of life. But the entire country rallied together everyone did their duty and sacrificed for the common good. Today US citizens are furious when gas prices go up! We could never imagine having GAS RATIONING not just having but supporting it and understanding it! This why I know this nation is decaying from the inside and it won't be long till the fall.
It is sad fact to face but history has shown us over and over again that when a nation rises up to defeat a great & powerful enemy it loses its since of community sacrifice for the common good. They get selfish and greedy.

When the people of a nation demand MORE from their country then they are willing to give the nation crumbles.
There are those who'll say "I disagree I don't believe this nation will ever fall."
I am sure after Athenians thought that after they rose up and defeated the Persians. They were free, enlightened, contributed much to mankind and government, the arts and sciences and they fell in less then 100 years.
It took Rome a little longer to lose their republic after they rose up to defeat the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars. They held on as empire for many more years but there was little benefit to the people when emperor after emperor drained the treasury trying placate the masses with public works and entertainment. It took Rome a little longer to rot from the inside but in the end they got corrupt and went broke.

Other great nations have fallen when their people abandoned the notion of service for the common good and started looking for hand outs instead. The Egyptians, Persians, and most recently the British who at the beginning of the 20th century effectively ruled the world. Today they are nothing b more then another second rate socialist country. All these great nations lost their greatness it was squeezed out because of a sense of greed and ENTITLEMENT. Entitlement think about that word? Too many of us feel we are ENTITLED to more for less because we are Americans. When in fact we should feel entitled to less because we have the opportunity to make so much more if we work at it. But for the most part we are not filling the shoes of those who came before us. There will not be another FDR anytime soon. I don't know what we would happen if there was another "Cuban Missile Crisis" the JFK's are long gone.
But those were different times right? Well no.
The times were different but human nature remains the same. THE Greatness comes from THE GIVING NOT THE TAKING. Today America is full of TAKERS WHAT CAN THE GOVERNMENT DO FOR ME??? They don't have the stomach for sacrifice or duty and they look down at those who do. Remember the words of JFK "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" Wise beyond his years. His words ring with more truth now then they did when he spoke them but more importantly those words need to be adheared to more now then ever if we want this nation who so many have died to defend to continue and prosper in this ever changing world.
Because if we as Americans United as one cannot learn from these examples then united we will follow them to ruin and we will be just another foot note in history.


Slander, you sound so grateful for living in your country! Why not do us all a favor, AND LEAVE! Remember 'love it or leave it'? Well apply that now. Get up off your couch and do something about it, or would you like some cheese to go with your whine? You consider SSI an entitlement? KMA, people worked all their life putting money into that, no entitlement there. You want to talk takers? Talk big corporations hiding money offshore to avoid taxes, talk corporate welfare to the tune of billions, and I will listen. The SNAP (food stamp program) goes mostly to the disabled, elderly and households with children. The average SNAP benefit is $133/month, or $1.52/meal. Can you eat on that? Hope you never have to, good luck.
As for greatest generation, they are the ones that put us in this mess, einstein. They used us and our money, raiding the SSI for whatever pet projects they had, leaving their kids and grandkids to suffer for it. Greed. How GREAT is THAT?
Britain lost their 'possessions' because of the greed of those 'possessions' wanting their FREEDOM! Go back to history class. wow.


That panhandler pictured is custom made for our area. He wouldn't be there out in the cold if he didn't do well. But maybe he's worth it, probably makes a few people feel really great about themselves!! Seems like a scam to me though and I would prefer they not be distracting drivers in the heavily traveled areas favored by the panhandlers.


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