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Proposal for crackdown on aggressive panhandling

City Councilman Frank DiCicco will try again Tuesday to change language to the city's sidewalk behavior ordinance to make it easier for police to deal with aggressive panhandlers in Center City.

Prompted by ongoing complaints from residents and businesses about begging, DiCicco is proposing new language that will free police from calling in a social service expert for help if someone is acting out in a public place.

That could mean everything from repeated begging, yelling or touching someone, blocking a pedestrian from using the sidewalk - or pretty much any behavior police would find intimidating or confrontational.

City Council's Committee on Streets and Services will take up the matter at a 4 p.m. hearing Tuesday. Advocates for homeless individuals oppose any change to the language of the 1999 sidewalk behavior ordinance. A hearing on the matter was postponed last Thursday because of objections from some in Council on the focus on homeless individuals. The new language does not single out the homeless.

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