Home > Uncategorized > Court calls Arcata panhandling ordinance “largely unconstitutional”

Court calls Arcata panhandling ordinance “largely unconstitutional”

Photo from North Coast Journal. The sign reads “Please buy me a pizza before I am arrested for holding this sign.”

Story is at the Times-Standard, http://www.times-standard.com/breakingnews/ci_21636370/arcata-panhandling-ordinance-thrown-out.

The complete text of Judge Dale Reinholtsen’s ruling can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/107095113/Arcata-s-panhandling-ordinance

Arcata citizen and all around great guy Richard Salzman had filed suit against the supposedly progressive city after it created the ordinance, which the city claimed targeted “aggressive panhandling,” but which Salzman asserted had much wider effect.  The court evidently agreed with Salzman, saying it found no disagreement between the parties about aggressive panhandling.

The T-S quotes Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen’s opinion: “the Court finds that the legitimate interests advanced by Arcata with respect to the targeted panhandling prohibition are insufficient in most instances to justify the infringement of solicitors’ right and, for that reason, it is largely unconstitutional…”

The Arcata Eye’s web site has what it says is a press release from Richard Salzman: http://www.arcataeye.com/2012/09/salzman-claims-victory-in-panhandling-lawsuit-september-26-2012/ In the press release, Salzman is quoted as saying “if you believe… in our Bill of Rights, then you have to defend the rights of people you don’t agree with, or find annoying.”

  1. tra
    September 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Congrats to Richard, and to all of us who value human rights and civil liberties. Panhandling may be annoying, but so is a lot of speech, and the bottom line is that “annoyance” doesn’t trump free speech.

    Yes, you may feel uncomfortable for a minute, because someone has asked you for money and you declined to contribute. Oh well. If that’s the biggest problem you face in life, you have ample reason to be thankful, and should just get on with enjoying the rest of your day.

  2. Anonymous
    September 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    “all around great guy”

    Are you being facetious?

  3. SourceCode
    September 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Good for you, Richard.

  4. Rick
    September 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Do what I do and keep a jar of urine that I would throw out my window dousing the bum.

  5. September 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Well done, Richard.

  6. September 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Salzman says: In the press release, Salzman is quoted as saying “if you believe… in our Bill of Rights, then you have to defend the rights of people you don’t agree with, or find annoying.”

    I wonder if that includes Joe Blow? Everybody has “rights,” but him, right?

  7. Plain Jane
    September 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Where are your rights being denied, Joe?

  8. Mitch
    September 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    He could tell you, Jane, but then he’d have to kill you.

  9. September 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    See my blog listed anywhere on the right side of this post?

  10. Mitch
    September 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Is that it, then? So not giving you publicity is interfering with your rights? I’ve never heard that conception of rights before, but maybe that’s what the Republicans are all upset about.

    For anyone who wants to treat themselves to Joe Blow’s thoughts in even greater depth than provided here, just click his name and you’ll land on the Joe Blow Report.

  11. What Now
    September 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Congratulations, Richard.
    Well done.

  12. Anonymous
    September 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Instead of simply congratulating Richard, take 10 minutes and read the ruling. You might learn something. The ordinance restrictions on “aggressive panhandling” were not ruled unconstitutional. In fact, those provisions were not questioned by Richard. Those protections are what most people wanted. They remain effective.

  13. Thorstein Veblen
    September 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Be more helpful if salzman then had offered ways to address the problem. We are getting outnumbered here in arcata by the vagrants and the ubiquitous pit bull on a string. Bad sign of things to come, perhaps.

  14. September 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Cool. I have always supported people who want to stand around with signs. Crazy religious ones are my favorite. And there is a big myth that arcata pan handling so bad. Im willing to bet that if you dont like smoking cigarettes in front of the bars if will rarely effect you.

    Oh and Joe, your blog is linked directly below your name. That pretty convenient, dont ya think?

  15. Plain Jane
    September 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Sorry Joe, but no one has a “right” to have their views expressed in any privately owned newspaper or blog. The government (federal, state or local) has no authority to restrict free speech, but that doesn’t pertain to individuals, blogs or newspapers. Private individuals have the right not to listen to you or read your views and they certainly have no legal or moral obligation to provide you with a forum or advertise your forum for you.

  16. Mitch
    September 27, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Dr Veblen,

    We generally agree, but I think your #12 is a bit off. “The problem” needs to be better defined.

    Aggressive panhandling remains illegal, as does panhandling on public transportation or within 20 feet of an ATM. So the remaining “problem” may be that people on the street may legally ask you for money. Is that the “problem”?

    Yes, that can be unpleasant. But I’m very glad that it is not illegal. And if it bothers you, you are welcome to say “no” to all who ask — if they respond in an aggressive way, you are welcome to call the police, who are far more likely to assist you in your argument than to assist the panhandler.

    In reality, the “problem” is that there is a large and growing group of young people who, for whatever reason, appear to be incapable of supporting themselves in more pleasant ways than panhandling. If that’s NOT the case, then your argument is with those who provide them with their spare change, somehow making panhandling more pleasant to the panhandlers than working. Personally, I find it hard to believe that large numbers of people find sitting out on the street begging to be a delightful work alternative. At the least, it strikes me as curious that the increase in panhandling seems to correspond to a high unemployment rate.

    If the panhandlers really don’t have better alternatives, our government and social system has completely failed them (and us), and the panhandlers are merely a symptom of that failure. Treating symptoms never works, and it often leads to disastrous results when the underlying sickness gets worse and worse because the symptoms appear gone.

  17. Anonymous
    September 27, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Salzman is just trying to rehab his image. Does not matter, what he is and represents is well known..

    [Ed note: In a different thread, I indicated that my rule for deleting comments would be if they were unsubstantiated attacks against a named individual by someone who does not use their own real, verifiable name. This qualifies, but I’m leaving it in place on this thread, so that when I delete subsequent such attacks, people know why. I’ll also publish the IP address of such comments, if I think that will be helpful. –Mitch]

  18. September 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Mitch, the panhandling ebbs and flows with the seasons (at least in Arcata). And there is a group of people who would rather ‘spange’ and hit health food store dumpsters for subsistence than plod through a 9 – 5. I call them “the 1%”.

  19. Mitch
    September 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

    bolithio,

    Of course it does. The degree of unpleasantness also varies with the season. I’m not saying that there are NO alternatives, I’m saying that there are no more acceptable alternatives to those who panhandle. Working a regular shift at a McDonalds is not pleasant, but for the overwhelming majority of people, I think it’s more pleasant than panhandling. For the vanishingly small minority of people who find it more pleasant to bum spare change off college students, if the only way they bother people is by their presence, their presence is one of the many prices we pay for living in a free society. You chase them by educating the college students about useful ways to provide real help, and you also educate yourself that there are ALWAYS exceptional cases.

  20. September 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I wonder what other local ordinances are unconstitutional and illegal…(the campaign donation limits, and the medical cannabis law come directly to mind…)

  21. September 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Don’t you just luv it when everyone (those that think their the most important ones, anyway,) tell you what your “rights” are. Once again the disingenuous question (Jane) leads to the unintentional truth? When it comes to “right” it’s too bad you don’t know what you’re talking about – Worthless opinions, you know, are just that, worthless..

  22. Thinking Anonoymous
    September 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks Richard. All of us who thought the one thing that would improve all our lives is to have more panhandlers, bums & vagrants.

  23. September 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I was kind of reached a bit by understanding Joe’s feeling yesterday, off the side of the logic of rights.

    My thought went towards the idea of community.

    Those who provide the weblog for us to write in surely have every right to highlight other weblogs they prefer, as in the present list.

    What I found myself wondering was if there could be a second list, below, which was labelled something simply like ‘Regular Commenters Here’, and so could acknowledge other voices, as we do in the interesting give and take of comments.

    Just a thought, that’s all.

  24. Mitch
    September 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Just for the record, Narration, it is Heraldo and not any of Heraldo’s guests who control/s the contents of the page layout outside the postings. My personal opinion is that lists of Humboldt blogs, unless they claim to be exhaustive, should represent the opinion of the list’s compiler as to what is worthwhile. I don’t think the list on the Herald is intended or claims to be exhaustive.

  25. September 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Know those things, Mitch.

    It was just a suggestion, hoping to land in appropriate hands. Not about rights, but about something else – I am sure you understand that.

  26. What Now
    September 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Well, it’s apparent that HIghly “fried is still with us afterall.
    Nice new monicker, “Fried.

  27. liberty
    September 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Free Speech Radio News covered this story today:
    http://fsrn.org/audio/headlines-thursday-september-27-2012/10935

  28. Thorstein Veblen
    September 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    As a child, I dont recall ever seeing a beggar in the u.s. Now its part of our landscape. And so many. Makes me sad.

    Salzman addressed the problem, and defended their right to beg in Arcata. Cool. Now what?

  29. September 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Er, Thorstein V, wonder where that was?

    Eureka in the 50’s certainly had its share of what were then called ‘bums’, and that in the post-war prosperity.

    In New York City of the early 70’s, with far more prosperity, the night streets were just covered with men (usually) in black raincoats lying down to take their rest, on a grating or otherwise.

    I remember breaking from what I was doing on a project there, and going into a drugstore to pick up some hydrogen peroxide, iodine, and bandages, to patch up in pre-HIV days a particular pretty lost elder gentleman who had a terrible sore on his leg, in that situation.

    Repeating something I and Mitch liked, I would say that is ‘How it is’.

    I heard Bruce Hornsby in a certain ear, after he said so.

  30. Pop Goestheweasel
    September 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

    So now the bums on the Plaza are going to get in my face about giving them money? Hopefully they will be prepared for my vulgar sarcastic response. You want money? Call mommy or daddy, get a job or sell your dog. Now get out of my way. Why don’t you go down to the marsh and play with yourself.

    Aggressive panhandling turned me off of Arcata. I used to tolerate it but now they are getting violent towards law abiding, tax paying and respectful citizens who tell them ‘no’. Screw that. I would rather spend my money in McKinleyville or Eureka. At least I can walk down the street without anyone getting in my way or bothering me.

  31. Mitch
    September 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

    “Cool. Now what?”

    I wish I knew. There’s thirty years of active societal destruction that needs repairing, people still worship the first vandal-in-chief because he had an actor’s folksy manner, and I honestly don’t know how the repair can happen at the necessary scale. Maybe FQ’s right and we’re all headed for higher consciousness. Maybe I’m right and we’re going to go the way of other hubristic civilizations, and sooner rather than later. Either way, it can’t hurt to be compassionate towards the vulnerable.

  32. September 28, 2012 at 11:42 am

    What do we call this attitude toward “rights”? BAD Rights versus GOOD Rights? Or just plain bigoted discrimination?

    Pop Goestheweasel :
    So now the bums on the Plaza are going to get in my face about giving them money? Hopefully they will be prepared for my vulgar sarcastic response. You want money? Call mommy or daddy, get a job or sell your dog. Now get out of my way. Why don’t you go down to the marsh and play with yourself.
    Aggressive panhandling turned me off of Arcata. I used to tolerate it but now they are getting violent towards law abiding, tax paying and respectful citizens who tell them ‘no’. Screw that. I would rather spend my money in McKinleyville or Eureka. At least I can walk down the street without anyone getting in my way or bothering me.

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