Wanting to protect citizens who use downtown parking meters, the city has adopted an ordinance to make it illegal to panhandle within 20 feet of a meter.
“This is in direct response to something that happens anytime you install something that requires people to take out their wallets or purses,” said Sarasota Police Capt. Jeff Karr.
Peter Fanning, president of the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association, said he’s heard reports from residents that they were putting money into the meters when people came up and asked for some cash or offered to help with the meter but then refused to leave after that offer was declined.
Karr said the new law is not meant to target people who are asking for help but rather thieves who look for an opportunity to grab a wallet or purse.
Panhandling is already illegal near a number of places where people take out money, including bank ATMs, bus stops, city buses, sidewalk cafes, public parks and public parking garages.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].