City already has some no-solicitation laws

       While the legalities of the city's new no-solicitation ordinances get hashed out in a Denver courtroom (Federal District Court - hearing scheduled Dec. 13), citizens might not realize they already have a number of rights when they encounter panhandlers.
       In ordinances approved in 1999 and 2002 (now part of the City Code), Colorado Springs City Council spelled out a range of restrictions on those seeking to extract money from people in public places. Violators can be charged with misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances, police have said.
       On private property, people selling or begging are guilty of trespassing if they continue to do so after being asked to leave, the code states.
       The public-property restrictions are listed below, with quoted segments representing exact language from the codes.
       Most of the restrictions are under the heading of “Aggressive Soliciting,” which is defined in City Code 9.2.111 as:
       “Continuing to solicit from a person after [hearing] a negative response to the soliciting.
       “Intentionally touching… another person without that person's consent in the course of soliciting.
       “Intentionally blocking, obstructing or interfering with the safe or free passage of a pedestrian or vehicle by any means, including unreasonably causing a pedestrian or vehicle operator to take evasive action to avoid physical contact in the course of soliciting.
       “Using violent or threatening conduct toward a person solicited which would cause a reasonable person to be fearful for his or her safety.
       “Persisting in closely following or approaching the person being solicited and continuing to solicit [after being informed otherwise].
       “Using profane or abusive language which is likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction from the person being solicited or would cause a reasonable person to be fearful for his or her safety.
       “Soliciting money from anyone who is waiting in line for tickets, for entry to a building or for another purpose.
       “Approaching or following a person for solicitation as part of a group… in a manner [that would] cause a reasonable person to fear imminent bodily harm or damage to or loss of property.”
       Code 9.2.111 also states that begging is disallowed…
  • From anyone “entering or exiting a parked motor vehicle or in a motor vehicle stopped on the street.”
  • From anyone in “the patio or sidewalk area of a retail business establishment that serves food and/or drink.”
  • When it's dark (specifically a half-hour after sunset or before sunrise).
  • Within 20 feet of an outdoors ATM.
  • Within 6 feet of a building entrance. (Note: The new ordinance would increase the building-entrance distance from 6 to 20 feet.)
           As for roadways, the existing code, 10.18.112, prohibits people standing on roads to seek money from passing cars (sidewalks are OK). They also can't solicit at interstate entrances or exits, from medians or anywhere that drivers can't pull over safely. The new ordinance on roadways would expand that to include all national highways; however, as it turns out, no Westside roadways would be affected (see story, this page.)
           The code does note that the term “soliciting” does not apply to someone passively holding up a sign. The legal challenge has come from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), chiefly focusing on the free-speech implications in a downtown zone described in one of the ordinances, which bans even passive solicitation.
           Barring legal obstacles, both new ordinances are set to take effect Dec. 19.

    Westside Pioneer article