ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Amid a pending lawsuit one city councilor is moving to change some key details in the controversial panhandling ordinance.
Since it was passed in November 2017 City Councilor Trudy Jones has refused to call it a panhandling ban. “The most important thing in our city is to keep it safe,” Jones said.
Although her ordinance does outlaw soliciting donations from drivers from sidewalks, medians, and off-ramps – just months after the ordinance passed, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court.
“They’re not fooling anyone,” ACLU attorney, Maria Martinez-Sanchez said. “This is an effort, by the city, to sweep homeless people, low-income people, people that are soliciting public donations, out of the public view.”
The civil rights group called the “pedestrian safety ordinance” a guise targeting panhandlers. The city quickly agreed not to enforce it while there was a lawsuit pending. “From a legal perspective it is just downright, unconstitutional,” Martinez-Sanchez said.
Despite the ongoing lawsuit, Jones is making some changes to the ordinance, changes she refers to as “clarifications.” The ordinance is on the council’s “final action” list that will be decided on at tomorrow’s city council meeting.
The ordinance now pin-points some of the problem areas around town. It says “it’s unlawful for any person to occupy within six feet of a travel lane of an entry or exit ramp” along I-25 and I-40 or along Paseo Del Norte at Coors, 2nd Street and Jefferson. “This is a piece of legislation, we’ve worked on quite a while to make sure we did no harm,” Jones said.