New rules could require beggars to register & wear neon vests

New rules could require beggars to register & wear neon vests
YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's a problem that's begging for a solution: too many panhandlers. In your face begging for cash, some who relieve themselves in public.

City officials proposed a new ordinance to crack down on the problem. Some of the rules require beggars to register for a ‘panhandling license.’ And, they would have to wear a vest that identifies them.

City officials tell KIMA the vests will likely look something like the orange construction vests, but some people are wondering if the panhandlers are actually going to wear it.

"What is a vest going to do, is it going to keep them from harassing people, no,” said a Selah man.

"Bad idea,” said a Yakima woman. “I'm not for it."

One Yakima tax payer thinks the registration is a good way to keep track of beggars. “I maintain that they're a business so they should have a business license,” he said.”

KIMA wanted to find out if the city thinks the panhandlers will actually use the vests. We spoke with Yakima City Manager, Tony O’Rourke.

REPORTER: “They're going to take this vest, throw it away, and continue what they're doing. What would your answer be to that?"

O’ROURKE: "Well that's when they would automatically be cited because they wouldn't be legal. If part of the requirement that's adopted includes having a license and wearing a vest then that has to be required."

If the panhandlers don't have the money to pay fines they'll likely spend more time in jail. O'Rourke says enforcement is one part, the city also wants to educate.

Yakima is also asking people simply not to give, because it typically goes towards illegal habits.

That’s one concept Yakima neighbors seem to agree with.

"If they aren't getting anything what are they going to stand on the corner for."

The new rules also increase pan-handling from a small offense to a misdemeanor. The city plans to review the ordinance in about 30 days. It could take effect before summer is over.

O’Rourke said the city is modeling its rules of cities like Tacoma and Tampa, Florida. Tacoma officials tell KIMA panhandling is simply and successfully outlawed. Tampa officials could not be reached for comment.