The Port Orange City Council's approval of the ordinance sparked another debate surrounding necessary measures to take against panhandling.
Despite City Council unanimously approving a trespassing ordinance in Port Orange at its meeting on Tuesday, July 16, Mayor Don Burnette was not satisfied.
It was the second reading of the "Trespassing on Public Property" ordinance, and Burnette told the council he needed to vent. He asked the council whether members prioritize keeping Port Orange “safe and clean,” to which the council responded yes, but then asked if the council prioritizes the panhandling problem.
“I’m frustrated with the results, because the results I’m seeing with panhandling in our city is still going backwards,” he said.
Upon approval of the ordinance, the council and Port Orange residents are hoping for improvement of public safety and welfare, according to the ordinance. Councilman Scott Stiltner emphasized that an ordinance like this aims to improve quality of life.
Burnette noted that in the Port Orange citizen survey, people mentioned not feeling safe running at night.
“Every day at lunch for the past week, I’ve driven up and down Dunlawton, down to the river, and I see just as many, if not more, panhandlers working our streets than I did a month or six weeks ago,” Burnette said, later urging the council that more needs to be done to get results.
City Manager Jake Johansson emphasized the importance of a giving culture, but begged for the money handouts to stop.
“If you want to stop this from happening, stop giving them money,” Johansson said. He encouraged people instead to donate to nonprofits that will help.
Brendan Galbreath, owner of Aunt Catfish’s on Ridgewood Avenue, spoke on behalf of employees, customers and business owners who struggle with panhandlers, saying the ordinance does nothing for the city’s goals.
“Great ordinance, great start, but doesn’t accomplish what I need, doesn’t accomplish what my customers need, doesn’t accomplish what my employees need,” Galbreath said.
Stiltner relayed that the legal process may be what is hindering progress. He encouraged Galbreath to seek out help from his regular customers if they needed to file police reports against panhandlers.