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Tempe cracking down on aggressive panhandlers

TEMPE, Ariz. — Panhandlers bothering people outside of convenience stores, malls, supermarkets are a growing problem across the Valley.

Many of them are truly in need, but others are far more aggressive and Tempe is putting teeth into its ordinance to prevent the aggressive ones from hassling people.

Nikki Ripley with the City of Tempe said panhandlers could spend six months in jail and pay a $2,500 fine if they’re caught breaking the law, the highest level of misdemeanor offenses.

“It will preserve the rights of everyone who lives here and comes here for events. We don’t want people to be impeded by the behavior of some of the panhandlers.”

Starting in 30 days, panhandlers will not be allowed to bother customers within 15 feet of ATMs, banks, bus stops, light rail and taxi stops and they won’t be allowed to panhandle within 10 feet of businesses or block entrances at businesses.

It’s unknown if any other Valley cities will follow Tempe’s lead and toughen up laws against panhandlers.

The Arizona Court of Appeals struck down a Phoenix law against nighttime panhandling in 2011
saying that cities can’t bar people from simply asking passers-by for money at night.