You Can't Panhandle at Sidewalk Cafes Anymore in Houston

With no discussion, the city council unanimously approved a ban on panhandling anywhere within eight feet of a sidewalk cafe.

The cafe ban was added to the current city ordinance that bars panhandling at ATMs, pay telephones, gas pumps and other places where people tend to get hit up. Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor.

There's no real rationale offered for the move beyond this, from the city attorney's office: "While this was not an issue when this ordinance was first enacted, recent development in the city has encouraged the establishment and use of sidewalk cafes and/or seating."

You put in sidewalk cafes, you're gonna get attention from broke dudes on the sidewalk.

The ordinance says the panhandling is barred whether or not the person being solicited asks the begger to stop.

Here's how they define such a request:

It "means any imperative instruction, whether verbal or non-verbal, from a solicitee to a solicitor to desist the solicitation including but not limited to words or gestures such as 'stop,' 'back off,' 'stay back,' 'get away,' 'leave me alone' or 'withdraw.'"

"Withdraw"? How does that work?

"Hey, got any spare change for some food?"

"Withdraw, sir! Prithee, I say withdraw!"

At least now you can enjoy your overpriced food outside without having to endure such indignities.


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