Iowa City Group Targets Panhandling, Smoking

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By Becky Ogann

IOWA CITY (AP) - A group of downtown business owners in Iowa City wants to move panhandlers farther away and make an open air mall smoke-free from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

City law prohibits solicitations in the downtown area within 10 feet of an entrance or exit of a building, sidewalk cafes and the playground near the library, and within 20 feet of an ATM.

The Downtown Association wants that expanded to 25 feet. It also wants panhandlers to have a "soliciting license."

The group also wants the city to ban smoking in the open air mall, saying it would reduce loitering outside their stores and keep sidewalk cafe patrons from enduring nearby smoking. By allowing smoking after 10 p.m., bar patrons could smoke outside after the cafes had closed.

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