Tampa City Council debates ways to curb panhandling downtown - FOX 13 News

Tampa City Council debates ways to curb panhandling downtown

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Some say Downtown Tampa is making a bit of a comeback.

But apparently panhandling is also back from the dead on Tampa streets. The city banned the practice at Tampa intersections back in 2011.

Now they say aggressive panhandling in downtown and Ybor City has become such a problem, it's forced the city council to look at it again in a broader way.

"We've got folks sleeping in parks, we've got folks sprawled out on the sidewalks, we've got folks engaged in public urination, we've got folks who are intoxicated, we've got folks aggressively panhandling and we've got to put a stop to it," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

The City Council passed a first reading of two ordinances Thursday: one would put a stop to aggressive panhandling; another would ban storing property, camping or sleeping in public parks or on sidewalks in a designated Downtown/Ybor city zone.

"We'd just like to see some decisive and firm action from council," said business owner Joshua Pillock.

Pillock is set to open Crumb and Cork Wine Bar at the corner of Franklin and Madison in a few weeks.

"We'll be able to serve wine and have live jazz outdoors," said Pillock.

He says he understands that the homeless issue is a complex one, but says something has to be done.

"People actually come up as soon as you open the door and ask you for money, ask you for a cigarette, pretty much anything you can think of," Pillock said.

If the laws pass, the city says it's not just going to usher the homeless out of downtown without a place to go.

"We're locating and identifying the beds so that when we tell people to move, they do have an alternative," said Mayor Buckhorn.

The end result?

"I think that everyone has the same goal in creating a downtown that's livable, walkable and enjoyable," Pillock said.

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