Panhandlers on streets face new Ordinance

The City of Phoenix needs to remain committed to addressing the needs of the homeless population and the working poor.  At the same time there is need to ensure that ordinances are passed to address unsafe conduct.  In October the Public Safety and Veterans Subcommittee unanimously recommended the City Council approve an amendment to City Code 36-128 that adds language prohibiting pedestrians from stopping or remaining in traffic island or median except to wait to cross the roadway.

The ordinance reads “No pedestrian may stop or remain in the portion of the roadway designed for vehicular use, or in a painted or raised traffic island or median not designated for use by pedestrians except to wait to cross the roadway at the next pedestrian signal, or in the absence of a pedestrian signal, when traffic has cleared or yielded”

It was approved at the November 19th City Council meeting; the ordinance will go into effect immediately.   Councilman Bill Gates says he voted to approve the ordinance as a step towards ensuring pedestrian safety.

Councilman Bill Gates said “I do not want the quality of life in our neighborhoods to deteriorate because of blight and increased traffic safety issues created by people loitering in our medians”

The changes to the ordinance would not be enforced on individuals who had a legitimate reason to be there such as city and utility company workers, contractors, or landscapers.

Enforcement has begun as police officers are handing out warnings for a first offense. After the first offence violators can be issued a fine up to $250. For more on enforcement read here.


As far as Panhandling or Solicitation it is legal in most parts of the city.

Panhandling or solicitation is asking a person for money, or asking them to buy goods or services from you.  You can solicit verbally or with a sign.

However “aggressive solicitation” is illegal in Phoenix.  Aggressive solicitation can be defined as:

• Continued soliciting a person, from a distance of 10 feet or less, after they verbally ask you to stop.

• Touching a person without their consent.

• Following a person in a way that intimidates them or
makes them fear bodily harm.

• Physically blocking a person’s path, or making them
change their path or the path of their vehicle, in order to
avoid running into you.

• Using obscene or abusive language or gestures with
the person.

• Soliciting a person within 15 feet of an ATM or the
entrance or exit of a bank.

• Soliciting a person on a bus, on a train, or within 10
feet of a bus or train stop.

For more information see the Phoenix City Code section 23-7 on aggressive solicitation.