City Council Affirms Anti-Panhandling Law (Updated) – March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Note: The City Council yesterday held a closed session to consider anticipated litigation by political activist Richard Salzman challenging the City’s recently passed anti-panhandling ordinance. This morning the City issued the press release below. – Ed.

 

ARCATA CITY COUNCIL RECONFIRMS SUPPORT

FOR PANHANDLING ORDINANCE

Following the closed session held on March 24, 2011, the Arcata City Council, by a vote of 4 to 1, confirmed its support for the Panhandling Ordinance enacted in April 2010. Councilmember Shane Brinton was the dissenting vote.

Mayor Susan Ornelas stated, “Because of frequent encounters with panhandlers, many citizens expressed to me and other members of the Council that they felt unsafe in the downtown and other areas of the City.” The Council responded to these concerns with a carefully crafted ordinance that balances the rights of people to freely engage in activities without feeling threatened with the rights of people to ask for donations. Since enacting the ordinance, feedback to the Council has been strongly positive.

“A mother attending HSU told me she now feels comfortable bringing her children to the Plaza,” said Mayor Ornelas.

The Council worked closely with the City Attorney to draft an ordinance consistent with other cities’ ordinances which have been upheld by the courts. Specifically, the ordinance was drafted to address situations in which citizens did not feel free to say ‘no’ because of the manner or place of the panhandling.

According to Police Chief Tom Chapman, the ordinance is clear and well defined. For the first year, the police emphasis has been on helping solicitors comply with the ordinance. As a result, very few citations have been issued.

The Council’s position is that the ordinance is fair and effective in achieving the goals of people of all ages to participate in social, recreational and business activities throughout the City.

 

Note: Friday evening, Councilmember Shane Brinton issued this response to the above statement. – Ed.

BRINTON SPEAKS OUT IN SUPPORT OF FIRST AMENDMENT
In response to the Arcata City Council’s 4-1 vote and subsequent press release reaffirming support for the Panhandling Ordinance enacted in April 2010, Councilmember Shane Brinton released the following statement: 

“The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect free speech, even speech that makes some people uncomfortable. Panhandling is a problem that we should address as a community, not by denying citizens their constitutional rights.”

Brinton expressed disappointment that his fellow councilmembers did not take this opportunity to repeal the ordinance and work together to pursue real solutions.

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11 Responses to “City Council Affirms Anti-Panhandling Law (Updated) – March 25, 2011”

  1. I would say that more people are bothered on a regular basis by panhandlers more than they are by medical marijuana patients, yet no one is standing up for patient rights.

    #28570
  2. OK, No one currently on the City Council.
    On a lighter note, it is nice to have my laptop back, it only took HP 3 1/2 weeks to fix the screen…..

    #28583
  3. Well, the current CC supports Arcata’s ordinance allowing home cultivation of medical cannabis, which puts APD in the position of defying federal law for the sake of cannabis patients. That’s hard to reconcile with the absolutist statement that no one on the council is standing up for patient rights.

    #28600
  4. We will have to agree to disagree on this one, because as you know i believe that as it applies to patients, the local ordinance is a direct violation of prop 215 and the court decisions that affirm that limitations put on patients are unconstitutional.
    As far as our local PD enforcing STATE law as opposed to Federal law, that is their job, the state courts have already ruled that it is the job of local Law Enforcement to enforce STATE law when it comes to medical cannabis. San Diego v NORML: Federal law does not trump state law, California counties and agencies have to follow State law, not federal.( http://www.chrisconrad.com/expert.witness/SDvNORML08-050333.pdf )
    As far as I am concerned our “local medical cannabis ordinance” is a modern “Jim Crowe” law.

    PS
    Calling it “land use” does not change the fact that it limits our rights as patients.

    PPS

    Kelly Decision: Three Appeals courts ruled the quantity limits passed by the legislature in SB420 were unconstitutional .Chris Conrad testified at Kelly’s original Long Beach trial and is cited. The Supreme Court held that the quantities are legal as a safe harbor for state ID cardholders but are unconstitutional as a limit on a qualified patient’s defense in court. It also held that the state ID card system is constitutional and that collectives operating under Health and Safety Code 11362.775 are constitutionally protected throughout the state. Click here to view as a PDF (320k) Chris Conrad’s cannabis expert testimony cited multiple times.

    Kelly Appeals Court Decision. Chris Conrad testified at the original Long Beach trial and is cited. Ruling that was reviewed by the Supreme Court (Click here to view as a PDF (144k). Christopher Conrad testimony, mention 1. Christopher Conrad testimony, mention 2.

    Phomphakdy Appeals Court Decision: Chris Conrad testified at the original Sacramento trial and is cited. Held that Quantities listed in SB 420, HS 11362.77(a) are unconstitutional to the extent that they are taken as limits affecting patients’ rights or legal defense. Chris Conrad’s testimony, mention 1 . Chris Conrad’s testimony, mention 2.

    Archer Appeals Court Decision. Chris Conrad testified at the original San Diego trial. SB 420 quantity limits held unconstitutional by Appeals Court.

    Just because the “limits” are on “garden size” and “lighting wattage”, does not mean that it is legal, it is still an unconstitutional limitation placed on patients by our city council.

    #28620
  5. Without contesting your legal scholarship, what’s your solution to residential homes being converted into commercial factories throughout town?

    #28622
  6. Well, I always favored someone setting up a large industrial warehouse type setting and leasing, on a non profit basis, space that is appropriate for larger scale growing. In this set up there could also be a sort of “farmers market” to support the upkeep, security, staffing and electricity. The “Farmers Market” could basically give away space for gardening to patients with proper documentation and pay the bills by selling the “extra” medicine at the “Farmers Market”. This could do wonders to remove the larger scale grows from houses with out taking away the rights of patients to have collective gardens, or gardens large enough to meet their own needs. It could also go a long way to employ some of the skilled producers we have in the area in a “legitimate” job.

    #28623
  7. PS
    It is still a felony to vandalize someones house by doing the damage that is done by the “large scale industrial” grows.

    #28624
  8. One paragraph above in the main article stated, " Since enacting the ordinance, feedback to the council has been strongly positive."

    Public opinion does not decide the issue of "constitutionality."

    Congress & legislatures pass laws that are later found to be unconstitutional and and are struck down by appeals/Supreme Courts.

    Even initiative/propositions put on the ballot and then passed by voters/the people are often found by Courts to be unconstitutional. The question is not whether the majority of citizens rule, the question is whether the initiative is constitutional or is it void because it doesn't measure up to constitutional standards/requirements.

    So, it really doesn't matter what support the measure/ordinance has from the citizenry… 100% of Arcatans could favor the ordinance, but if unconstitutional..
    the law is void and struck down. It fails.

    Especially, going after people for merely carrying a sign…troubling, because that is one of the bedrock rights that make us a so-called 'free country."

    Some city official says that the ordinance is based upon what has already been declared constitutional in other towns/cities. Please let us know when/Where a appeals court or the Supreme Court/Calif. or the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed with laws prohibiting carrying signs. I think even George Carlin, if he was still alive, could carry a sign using the language he was famous for.

    There are over 10,000 towns, cities, hamlets, etc..in this country, and I can guarantee you that in hundreds of those burgs, every single day, people stand in front of courthouses, city halls, and on the streets with signs.

    Reading about this issue, from Arcata of all places, I still wonder if you are going the way of Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960's. Like I said in a previous comment, "I wonder who the next Bull Connor is going to be…and if his ghost will arise in Arcata." Judging from the comments, and the actions of the city…it would not surprise me to see "someone" stand up to be that next Bull Connor."

    George Shieman Eureka/SanFrancisco gshieman@aol.com.

    #63502
  9. One paragraph above in the main article stated, " Since enacting the ordinance, feedback to the council has been strongly positive."

    Public opinion does not decide the issue of "constitutionality."

    Congress & legislatures pass laws that are later found to be unconstitutional and and are struck down by appeals/Supreme Courts.

    Even initiative/propositions put on the ballot and then passed by voters/the people are often found by Courts to be unconstitutional. The question is not whether the majority of citizens rule, the question is whether the initiative is constitutional or is it void because it doesn't measure up to constitutional standards/requirements.

    So, it really doesn't matter what support the measure/ordinance has from the citizenry… 100% of Arcatans could favor the ordinance, but if unconstitutional..
    the law is void and struck down. It fails.

    Especially, going after people for merely carrying a sign…troubling, because that is one of the bedrock rights that make us a so-called 'free country."

    Some city official says that the ordinance is based upon what has already been declared constitutional in other towns/cities. Please let us know when/Where a appeals court or the Supreme Court/Calif. or the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed with laws prohibiting carrying signs. I think even George Carlin, if he was still alive, could carry a sign using the language he was famous for.

    There are over 10,000 towns, cities, hamlets, etc..in this country, and I can guarantee you that in hundreds of those burgs, every single day, people stand in front of courthouses, city halls, and on the streets with signs.

    Reading about this issue, from Arcata of all places, I still wonder if you are going the way of Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960's. Like I said in a previous comment, "I wonder who the next Bull Connor is going to be…and if his ghost will arise in Arcata." Judging from the comments, and the actions of the city…it would not surprise me to see "someone" stand up to be that next Bull Connor."

    George Shieman Eureka/SanFrancisco gshieman@aol.com.

    #66004
  10. One paragraph above in the main article stated, " Since enacting the ordinance, feedback to the council has been strongly positive."

    Public opinion does not decide the issue of "constitutionality."

    Congress & legislatures pass laws that are later found to be unconstitutional and and are struck down by appeals/Supreme Courts.

    Even initiative/propositions put on the ballot and then passed by voters/the people are often found by Courts to be unconstitutional. The question is not whether the majority of citizens rule, the question is whether the initiative is constitutional or is it void because it doesn't measure up to constitutional standards/requirements.

    So, it really doesn't matter what support the measure/ordinance has from the citizenry… 100% of Arcatans could favor the ordinance, but if unconstitutional..
    the law is void and struck down. It fails.

    Especially, going after people for merely carrying a sign…troubling, because that is one of the bedrock rights that make us a so-called 'free country."

    Some city official says that the ordinance is based upon what has already been declared constitutional in other towns/cities. Please let us know when/Where a appeals court or the Supreme Court/Calif. or the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed with laws prohibiting carrying signs. I think even George Carlin, if he was still alive, could carry a sign using the language he was famous for.

    There are over 10,000 towns, cities, hamlets, etc..in this country, and I can guarantee you that in hundreds of those burgs, every single day, people stand in front of courthouses, city halls, and on the streets with signs.

    Reading about this issue, from Arcata of all places, I still wonder if you are going the way of Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960's. Like I said in a previous comment, "I wonder who the next Bull Connor is going to be…and if his ghost will arise in Arcata." Judging from the comments, and the actions of the city…it would not surprise me to see "someone" stand up to be that next Bull Connor."

    George Shieman Eureka/SanFrancisco gshieman@aol.com.

    #66256

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