With the holiday season here, community members may notice an increase in the number of individuals soliciting personal donations throughout Farmington. This practice is often referred to as panhandling. Questions have been raised by citizens regarding the legality and limitations of panhandling in our area. Farmington Municipal Code Sec. 18-4-10 Aggressive solicitation prohibited, addresses this question and reads:
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit by harassing or menacing another person on a public street or sidewalk or in another place open to the public, whether publicly or privately owned.
(b) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Solicit” means to ask another by word or gesture for money or for some other thing of value.
(2) “Solicit by harassing or menacing” means to do any of the following while soliciting:
- Block or impede the passage of the solicitee intentionally;
- Touch the solicitee with the intent to intimidate or coerce;
- Follow the solicitee, going behind, ahead or along side of him or her, with the intent to intimidate or coerce;
- Threaten the solicitee, by word or gesture, with physical harm; or
- Abuse the solicitee with words which are offensive and inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction;
- Coming closer than three feet to the person solicited unless and until the person solicited indicates that he or she wishes to make a donation;
- Engaging in solicitation activity in any of the prohibited places specified below:
- Bus stops;
- Public transportation vehicles or facilities;
- A vehicle on public streets or alleyways;
- Public parking lots or structures;
- Outdoor dining areas of restaurants or other dining establishments serving food for immediate consumption;
- Within 50 feet of an automated teller machine; or
- A queue of five or more persons waiting to gain admission to a place or vehicle, or waiting to purchase an item or admission ticket.
(c) Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable as provided in section 1-1-10.
(Ord. No. 99-1104, § 1, 10-26-99)
Whether or not a citizen gives money, food or other items to someone who is panhandling, is a personal decision. An alternative option is to donate to an established community charity. There are a variety of local organizations available to assist individuals and families in need and are collecting items to distribute during the holiday. A list of those organizations and needed items may be found on San Juan United Way’s website at sjunitedway.org.
Farmington Police Department wants citizens to remain safe and encourages anyone who believes they have been the victim of aggressive solicitation (panhandling), to contact non-emergency dispatch at (505) 334-6622.