Dallas's "New" Solicitation-Free Zones
Chapter 31, Section 31-35 of the Dallas City Code already provides definitions for coercion ("... to approach or speak to a person in such a manner as would cause a reasonable person to believe that the person is being threatened ...") and solicitation ("... to ask, beg, solicit, or plead, whether orally or in a written or printed manner, for the purpose of receiving contributions, alms, charity, or gifts of items of value for oneself or another person ...") and outlaws both citywide during hours of darkness under the banner of miscellaneous offenses.
Maybe you recall -- it's the so-called panhandling ordinance passed by the council during the tenure of then-Mayor Laura Miller but seldom enforced. In recent months, DowntownDallas has wanted that sucker strengthened. On Wednesday, the council appears primed to hand out the clamp-down: It'll vote on a revised ordinance that fines violators up to $500 (right now, there is no fixed fine), and creates four so-called Solicitation-Free Zones (downtown, Deep Ellum, Uptown and Victory). The whole ordinance follows, but here's the highlight:
The proposed ordinance would amend Section 31-35 of Chapter 31, "Offenses - Miscellaneous," of the Dallas City Code to ban outdoor solicitations in designated solicitation-free zones. The designated solicitation-free zones would be in the Central Business District, Deep Ellum, Uptown, and Victory, which are high tourist, high pedestrian traffic areas of the city. The purpose of the ban is to encourage tourism, pedestrian traffic, economic development, and residential development in those areas. The ordinance would provide a defense to prosecution if the solicitation was conducted on property with the advanced written permission of the owner, manager, or other person in control of the property. An offense under the ordinance would be punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Council was busy on November 17: The new version of the solicitation ordinance was first discussed behind closed doors with city attorneys that afternoon -- the same day they crafted the sex-offenders-can't-live-together law that'll also be voted on Wednesday. New law would go into effect January 1, otherwise known as A Month Before The Super Bowl.
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