City Council has not found any ways to put a legal halt to panhandling yet in Port Orange.
Councilman Chase Tramont called the panhandling problem in Port Orange a “nuisance” at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and called upon City Council’s legal department to ensure the city is still doing everything it can to fight panhandling.
Tramont questioned the possibility of getting creative with city zoning to interfere with the regularly frequented panhandling areas, without violating first amendment rights. Because panhandlers usually take advantage of public spaces, such as sidewalks, it’s difficult to impose proper legal ramifications without coming under “constitutional scrutiny,” said Matt Jones, deputy city attorney and police legal advisor for Port Orange.
Councilman Scott Stiltner told Tramont and the council that, despite conversations with a “local prominent attorney and resident” about the issue, no lawful approach has been reached. Stiltner said 27 cities have tried to defend their zoning ordinances that can apply to panhandling in court, and all 27 lost. Tramont mentioned the work Daytona Beach and St. Augustine have done, but Jones stated that neither city has been tested in their approach.
Burnette reminded the council that some panhandlers have been arrested. Tramont acknowledged the progress that has been made, but told the council he hates telling people that there is nothing he can do.
“I love a challenge,” Tramont said. “When someone says that you can’t do it, then I want to go out there and do it. At the very least, I want to be able to tell them we’re not going to stop finding a solution.”