Charlotte may borrow page from Fayetteville in dealing with panhandlers

Charlotte may borrow page from Fayetteville in dealing with panhandlers
(Troy Bowlby | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We see them all over town asking for money at busy intersections and on medians, but one North Carolina town may be making waves for trying a controversial new approach to panhandling.

Fayetteville officials are fining people who give to panhandlers. WBTV has learned the City of Charlotte could take a similar approach.

Drivers see it as an issue of public safety.

"Sometimes they come to the window and knock on it," one motorist at Wilkinson Boulevard and Ashley Road said.

They are unwanted introductions coming from panhandlers staking their turf at local intersections. A local panhandler who goes by the name of Jeff knows how the street hustle plays out.

"I don't think you should verbally ask," he said. "You see the sign, you know what it's there for."

Conversations may soon be underway not to target those in need, but rather the individuals choosing to open their wallets.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, who heads up Charlotte's Public Safety Committee, also confirms that city council may soon have a conversation based on a new ordinance enacted in Fayetteville.

Drivers who assist panhandlers there would be subject to a series of fines.

"Do we have ordinances that address, that could be tightened up, based on what we're trying to solve? That would be the first step," Eiselt said.

Back on the street, support can be found from some motorists.

"If they can't get money, they ought to stop standing out there," another driver said.

However, admitted panhandlers like Jeff say such an ordinance would take away life's necessities.

"I've got money for food and cigarettes. To ride the bus. Laundry soap... little stuff like that," Jeff said.

In Fayetteville, a first offense fine would be $25, with later penalties going up to $100.

It's unclear when Charlotte officials will take up the issue.

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