City of Greensboro wants public input on soliciting

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The City of Greensboro will host five public forums for input on solicitation.

The announcement was made after months of discussions about what the city should do about panhandling. City council is deciding on whether an ordinance, that would ban solicitors from doing things like being overly aggressive, should pass.

Councilwoman Michelle Kennedy believes it is wrong because it punishes someone for doing something that is already illegal.

“We really want to see laws on the books that say everyone is treated equally based on their behavior and not on the content of what they're doing at that particular moment,” Kennedy said.

A few months ago, FOX8 spoke with a business owner who said panhandling has become aggressive and has impacted their business.

City attorney Tom Carruthers says Greensboro is trying to find a balance between those in need and others' safety. Any changes the city makes would have to apply to all solicitors.

“The Supreme Court of the United States has clarified the law and it is now clear that when you are soliciting for yourself or for your church or for your organization on the street or on the sidewalks in the city that you should be treated the same,” Carruthers said.

His team is going to make a recommendation for what the city should do after hearing from people at five public forums.

“We want to hear from our residents about problems they perceive with soliciting, including panhandling, and solutions they believe may be effective,” Carruthers said.

The schedule for the public forums is:

Guilford Merchants Association

Wednesday, June 20, 2-4 pm

225 Commerce Pl.

Congregational United Church of Christ

Thursday, June 21, 6:30-8:30 pm

400 W. Radiance Dr.

Interactive Resource Center

Friday, June 22, 10 am to noon

407 E. Washington St.

Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro

Monday, June 25, 2-4 pm

330 S. Greene St., Suite 100

New Zion Missionary Baptist Church

Tuesday, June 26, 6:30-8:30 pm

408 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.