Lexington looking to pass new ordinance to combat panhandling

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Lexington’s Urban County Council is trying to pass a new ordinance that looks to decrease panhandling in the city.
The council heard its first reading of a new ordinance they say looks to increase pedestrian safety but many other people see the ordinance as a new way to fight panhandling in the city.

Mayor Jim Gray says this new ordinance’s goal is simple, to protect everyone who uses the city’s streets.

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“It’s to protect motorists as well as those who are pedestrians. So it’s keeping people out of the street where it’s really dangerous,” said Mayor Gray.

Specifically, the ordinance prohibits pedestrians from standing on medians or anywhere else in the street to approach cars.

“This is all about public safety. This is all about the safety of pedestrians and the safety of motorists,” said Mayor Gray.

But many see the wording of the ordinance as the city’s new way to combat the rise in panhandlers after an earlier ordinance banning panhandling all together was struck down by Ketucky’s Supreme Court in February.
Vice Mayor Steve Kay was the only city official to speak on the ordinance during this week’s meeting where he revealed he had tried to keep it off the agenda but failed.

“I’m not going to make another motion tonight but I want to note that I continue to believe that it would really benefit from additional vetting and when it comes up for a second read I’ll vote against it,” said Vice Mayor Kay.

When asked why the vice mayor wasn’t supportive of the ordinance, Mayor Gray simply said that’s his opinion.

“Well that’s the vice mayor’s point of view on it and I certainly respect his point of view. Sometimes we have different points of view and that’s what democratic process is all about,” said Mayor Gray.

The ordinance will now get a second reading at the council’s next meeting on May 25th and then if passed it will undergo a 60 day public education period before being implemented.