Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. What are the laws regarding panhandling in Juneau? Almost every time I walk downtown I am bombarded by at least three requests for spare change. This has become increasingly aggressive and the behavior of some individuals is bordering on assault. For example I will often reply with, "nope" This has been met with a variety of expletives and derogatory comments. Does this cursing fall under the First Amendment, or can I file a formal complaint? Is the city still debating addressing this issue? I'm getting frustrated even visiting downtown anymore, unfortunately my job is located there. Thanks
Dear Juneau Resident,
Merely asking for money is free speech. I think everyone has at least one family member who exercises that right regularly.
So if the stranger on the street asks for money and then allows you to go on your way, they are acting just as legally as the brother in law who asks you to get dinner, again. If the panhandlers does something that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, he or she has violated a CBJ ordinance. The entire ordinance is noted below. If someone violates the ordinance, it is an infraction. JPD officers can write the person a ticket and they have to pay a $75 fine or go to court.
Call JPD when you believe illegal panhandling has happened. Be sure and provide a good description and your personal information. It is possible you would have to go to court to testify.
42.20.200 - Panhandling restricted.
As used in this section, "panhandling" means any solicitation made in person upon any street, sidewalk, public place or park in the City and Borough, in which a person requests an immediate donation of money or other gratuity from another person, and includes but is not limited to seeking donations:
By vocal appeal or for music, singing, or other street performance; and
Where the person being solicited receives an item of little or no monetary value in exchange for a donation, under circumstances where a reasonable person would understand that the transaction is in substance a donation.
It shall be unlawful to engage in an act of panhandling on any day after sunset, or before sunrise.
It shall be unlawful to engage in an act of panhandling when either the panhandler or the person being solicited is located at any of the following locations: at a bus stop; in any public transportation vehicle or public transportation facility; in a vehicle which is parked or stopped on a public street or alley; within 20 feet in any direction from an automatic teller machine or entrance to a bank; or within ten feet of any entrance to a building or crosswalk.
It shall be unlawful to engage in an act of panhandling in an aggressive manner, including any of the following actions:
Touching the solicited person without the solicited person's consent;
Blocking the path of a person being solicited, or the entrance to any building or vehicle;
Following behind, ahead, or alongside a person who walks away from the panhandler after being solicited;
Using profane or abusive language, either during the solicitation or following a refusal to make a donation, or making any statement, gesture, or other communication which would cause a reasonable person to be fearful or feel compelled; or
Panhandle in a manner that obstructs pedestrian or vehicular traffic. As used in this section, "obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic" means to walk, stand, sit, lie, or place an object in such a manner as to block passage by another person or a vehicle, or to require another person or a driver of a vehicle to take evasive action to avoid physical contact. Acts authorized as an exercise of one's constitutional right to picket or to legally protest, and acts authorized by a CBJ permit, shall not constitute obstruction of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
Each act of panhandling restricted by this section shall constitute a public nuisance and separate violation of this code. Violation of this section is an infraction.