UPDATE: Iowa City council votes to lift ban on panhandling

Published: Jan. 17, 2017 at 7:34 PM CST
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Iowa City council members voted Tuesday night to lift the city's ordinance on panhandling.

The ordinance had banned panhandling near ATMs, cafes, and playground equipment on the ped mall.

But the city attorney had recommended doing away with the ban because courts in other parts of the country have ruled similar bans were unconstitutional.



Panhandlers may once again be able to panhandle in the ped mall in downtown Iowa city.

It banned panhandlers from being within 20 feet of ATM machines, and 10 feet of cafès, and playground equipment, which basically made the ped mall off limits.

A memo from the city attorney, recommended getting rid of the ban because of numerous court rulings across the nation that make bans like the one on the ped mall unconstitutional.

The city says it wants to just get rid of it and does not want to wait for a challenge to the ban because it could subject the city to attorney's fees.

A former panhandler downtown who goes by the name "Dog" says he would rather the city keep the ban in place because he is worried taking the ban away would bring in more aggressive panhandling to the city.

"If they take the ban off the ped mall all they gonna do is bring more pandhandlers into this town," Dog said, "They're gonna come from Cedar Rapids, they're gonna come from Davenport, they're gonna come from Des Moines, we're gonna have 50 people sitting on that."

The city attorney says the city did sit down with members of the downtown district to explain why the city wants to remove the ban.

The city is discussing it tonight and could potentially vote to remove the ban.