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Columbus Council Approves Aggressive Panhandling Crackdown, Money For OhioHealth Freeway Project

Jun 26, 2018

Credit WCBE files

Columbus City Council last night approved an ordinance cracking down on so-called “aggressive” panhandling. 

City Solicitor Lara Baker-Morrish says the ordinance creates a three-foot buffer zone around ATMs, bars people from touching or following someone who has told them no, and outlaws transactions in the middle of streets or freeway ramps. 

Violations would be fourth-degree misdemeanors. Opponents say the measure does not solve the root causes of panhandling, including poverty and homelessness. Sponsoring Council member Mitch Brown says the city recognizes that fact.

To put the amount Brown mentioned in context, the city's budget for this year is nearly 900 million dollars. The measure brings city code into compliance with a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forced a halt to enforcement of the city's previous aggressive panhandling law. Council last night also approved without comment a 4.8 million dollar contract with a private firm to build a Route 315 interchange for OhioHealth's new complex on Olentangy River Road. In 2016, council approved a 6 million dollars in tax breaks for OhioHealth to relocate its offices. 315 will be temporarily realigned in both directions to allow for  construction of a bridge and changes at the intersection of West North Broadway and OhioHealth Parkway.