Aggressive panhandling will soon be illegal in the city of Santa Maria.
The Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday night approved the second reading of the new ordinance banning aggressive solicitation in the city. The item was on the consent calendar, among multiple items approved with one vote and no discussion.
The council gave its first approval of the ordinance earlier this month, and the new law will take effect in a month.
Santa Maria followed the cities of Lompoc, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara in adopting rules against aggressive panhandling, which is defined as intentionally touching a person or vehicle without consent, continuing to solicit within 10 feet of a person who declined the request, blocking a person’s path, or using intimidating words or obscenities.
Panhandling near an ATM or bank entrance, in a parking garage and in public transportation will also be banned.
The ban doesn’t apply to vehicles parked on a public street. It also doesn’t apply to a sidewalk or walkway unless it’s located within 10 feet of a parking lot or parking garage entrance or exit.
In a one-year period, the Santa Maria Police Department received 137 calls regarding panhandlers.
Violators of the new law would pay a $100 fine for a first infraction, $200 for a second offense and conviction within one year and $500 for each additional violation, according to city staff.
City Manager Rick Haydon said the ordinance would be paired with a public education campaign to urge people to give money directly to organizations that serve the homeless population.